His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia Addresses the Fullness of the Russian Orthodox Church
There can be nothing more significant for us today than the continuing fratricide which is blazing on the territory of Ukraine, taking away more and more lives.
What is happening today, primarily in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, and how are the members of our Holy Church to assess these events?
In the southern regions of historic Rus’, internecine strife has now flared up.
The consequences of the bloody conflict are horrifying. No longer one hundred, as in Kiev over this past winter, but many, many hundreds have died, while thousands have been wounded and left homeless. Only the devil can celebrate victory when brothers take up arms against one another, destroy one another, maim one another, and weaken the vitality of the people.
And of course, the Russian Orthodox Church, the Church of the spiritually indivisible Rus’, cannot divide the united people of God along political, national, social, or any other lines. The Church fulfills the mission entrusted to Her by the Lord Jesus Christ, and not the instructions or orders from elsewhere, from one political force or another. That is how She differs from some nominally religious ‒ but in actuality worldly ‒ organizations.
Civil strife has occurred more than once in our history. They caused the weakening of Kievan Rus’ and the fall of the divided principalities under the assault of Batu Khan, they led to the terrible Time of Troubles in the Russian state in the seventeenth century, and to the bloodletting, massive in its scope, and the establishment for many years of the godless regime in beginning of the twentieth century.
The lessons of history also show that internecine struggle always gives rise to possibility of conquest of the Fatherland by outside forces. Both in the days of old and today, we face the danger of losing true sovereignty of the people; that sovereignty which is expressed in the possibility and ability to arrange one’s life on the basis of those moral, spiritual, and cultural values which were adopted, together with Divine grace, by our ancestors in the Kievan font of the Baptism of Rus’, which blossomed and were made our own over the course of our centuries-long history.
I appeal to all who are in a position to make decisions: immediately end the bloodletting, enter into real discussions to establish peace and justice. The can be no winners in fratricidal war, there can be no political gain more valuable than human lives.
As far as the Church is concerned, Her weapon and Her shield are prayer and the Word of God, which “is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12).
I call all of the children of the Russian Orthodox Church to strengthened prayer, to fastidious observance of the Apostles’ Fast, which has now begun. And I issue a special call to the monasteries: pray now to the Lord, as our pious ancestors knew to pray in terrible times of upheaval; as the founding ascetics of Russian monasticism, the Venerable Anthony and Theodosius of the Kiev Caves, in times of civil strife entreated of the Heavenly Father its cessation; as the reconciler of the Russian lands, the Venerable Sergius of Radonezh, prayed for the end to the hateful enmity of this world; as the Holy Hierarch Tikhon, Patriarch of All Russia, and Hieromartyr Vladimir, Metropolitan of Kiev, cried unto the Lord in the days of bloody chaos and civil war.
May special prayers for peace and the overcoming of civil strife tirelessly be made in all our churches, to the text of which I gave my blessing today:
“O Lord Jesus Christ our God, look down with Thy merciful eye upon the sorrow and greatly-painful cry of Thy children, abiding in the Ukrainian land. Deliver Thy people from civil strife, make to cease the spilling of blood, and turn back the misfortunes set against them. Lead unto sanctuary those bereft of shelter, feed the hungry, comfort those who weep, and unite the divided. Leave not Thine own flock, who abide in sorrows on account of their kinsmen, to diminish, but rather, as Thou art benevolent, give speedy reconciliation. Soften the hearts of the unmerciful and convert them to the knowledge of Thee. Grant peace to Thy Church and to Her children, that with one heart and one mouth we may glorify Thee, our Lord and Saviour, unto the ages of ages. Amen.”
Press Service of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia