Hundreds of experts have signed a statement renounce the religious ideology that led Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
In particular, Eastern Orthodox Christian scholars around the world supported the statement to express their horror at the suffering in Ukraine and the militarization of Christianity in Russia.
The statement, now available in more than 10 languages, has been signed by more than 1,000 people until there.
Vladimir Putin has repeatedly expressed his wish that Russia and Ukraine (together with Belarus and other Eastern European states) form a single “Russian world” with a common language (Russian), a political center (Moscow), spiritual center (kyiv), church administration (the Russian Orthodox Church), all united under one leader (Putin).
The statement, organized by Dr Brandon Gallaher from the University of Exeter and Dr Pantelis Kalaitzidis, from Volos Academyis designed to raise awareness and protest how – rather than condemning Russian aggression against Ukraine, the Russian Orthodox Church continually repeats Kremlin propaganda about invading Ukraine as a “special military operation” intended to protect the breakaway Donbass region of Ukraine from Ukrainian aggression and Western ideas, such as gay rights.
Scholars and others have signed the declaration because they want to maintain the original teachings of Jesus in the New Testament.
Among other things, their statement states:
- That the Church should not submit to the State, nor become an agent of the State for the promotion of geopolitical objectives, dictated by personal ambition or the assertion of the superiority of one group over another , like the Russians on the Ukrainians.
- This love is central to the Christian message and that waging war is the ultimate failure of Jesus’ law of love.
- That Christians are called to be peacemakers, not warmongers, to uphold justice and condemn injustice.
- The statement also condemns “fake news” or disinformation, such as labeling the war of aggression against Ukraine as a “special military operation”, as contrary to the Christian principle of truth.
Dr Gallaher said:
“The ‘Russian world’ ideology opposes a supposedly corrupt and degenerate West, with Ukraine as the main front line. Accordingly, the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Kirill, and President Vladimir Putin regularly justify the invasion of Ukraine on the basis of its return to the fold of the “Russian world”.
“The reality is that the ‘Russian world’ ideology reinforces the personal and geopolitical ambitions of Vladimir Putin. Putin wants to create a greater Russia by restoring the borders of the former Soviet Union under his dictatorship.
“We hope that as many people as possible will sign the statement to draw attention to how Putin misuses religion as a tool for his propaganda. It’s wrong.”
A Statement on Teaching the “Russian World” (Russkii Mir)
Cover letter from the Editorial Board Coordinators (Revd Dr Brandon Gallaher (University of Exeter) and Dr Pantelis Kalaitzidis (Volos Academy):
In the wake of Vladimir Putin’s unconscionable and horribly destructive invasion of Ukraine, Orthodox Christians everywhere are faced with a difficult question: how can a nation whose majority embraces Orthodox Christianity justify attacking and kill the inhabitants of a sister nation, who almost all share the same faith?
How, at the start of Great Lent, when our tradition calls us to forgiveness, fasting and prayer, can Orthodox Christians unleash violence and bloodshed against their brothers and sisters in Christ?
The painful truth, but which we must face in this time of repentance, is that our own leaders, and more specifically the leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church, have developed and promoted a false teaching known as “Russkii Mir” or “world,” providing Mr. Putin with the religious “blank cheque” that guarantees his heinous invasion and annexation of Russia’s peaceful, democratic neighbors: Ukraine.
During this holy season, Orthodox Christians everywhere must declare unequivocally that the ideology of the “Russian world” is both false and destructive, fueling violence and bloodshed, causing scandal and division in the world. ‘Church. Nor can we delude ourselves that this ideology is an exception in the history of Orthodoxy: we must condemn all orthodox ethno-phyletic ideologies related to the false teaching of the “Russian world” in all ages, nations and cultures. .
Orthodox scholars and theologians have written a powerful statement (attached) regarding the theologically condemnable ideology of the “Russian world”. We invite you to read this Declaration, sign it and share it with others.
We urge you to pray for the repentance of those who propagate this evil teaching, which continues to fuel the megalomaniac ambitions of Vladimir Putin. Pray also for the repentance of every Orthodox Christian, for our own complicity in this evil through silence, obscuration and denial.
Only if we confront this evil, which thrives both inside and outside of us, bowing deeply in repentance with the simple words of the Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete: “Have mercy of me, O God, have mercy on me! we truly reaffirm our divided and bloodied community as the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, united only by our broken and contrite hearts in the person of Jesus Christ, who alone is with us in adversity.
The Coordinators on behalf of the Editorial Board
Rev. Dr. Brandon Gallaher
Dr Pantelis Kalaitzidis
To sign and support this Declaration, please add your name here.
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