Thursday, December 8, 2022
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    German President: “ROC leaders complicit in war crimes against Ukraine”

    German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has made a number of harsh statements targeting the Russian Orthodox Church. Speaking at the World Council of Churches, the head of Germany condemned the support voiced by the leadership of the Moscow Patriarchate for Russia’s war on Ukraine.

    “The leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church is currently leading its members and its entire church down a dangerous and truly blasphemous path that goes against everything they believe in. They justify an aggressive war against Ukraine – against their and our brothers and sisters in faith. We must speak out, including here, in this hall, in this Assembly, against this propaganda aimed at the freedom and rights of citizens of another country, against this nationalism, which baselessly claims that the imperial dreams of a dictatorship for hegemony are God’s will. How many women, men, and children have also become victims of this incitement of hatred, this enmity, and this criminal violence in Ukraine!” Steinmeier said, as quoted by OCU Archbishop Yevstratiy (Zorya).

    The German leader mentioned the carpet bombings and pinpoint strikes on civilian homes, apartment buildings, hospitals, shopping centers, train stations, and public venues – war crimes taking place before the eyes of the whole world.

    “…[T]oday we cannot stay away from this issue. We must call it by its name, moreover, we must condemn it, and just as importantly, as a Christian community, we must express our commitment to the dignity, freedom, and security of the people of Ukraine. I would like to take this opportunity to convey a special and heartfelt greeting to the delegations of the Churches in Ukraine, and I hope that at this assembly they will be able to draw strength and support for their churches and communities suffering in their Homeland,” said Steinmeier.

    He also drew the attendants’ attention to the fact that representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church are present at the event today, and the fact that they are there “is not something taken for granted in our time.”

    “I expect that the Assembly will not mince words for the truth about this brutal war and criticism of the role of their church leaders,” the politician continued. “Yes, again and again Christians have to build bridges. This is and remains one of our most important tasks. But building bridges requires readiness on both sides of the river; a bridge cannot be built if one side destroys the pillars supporting it. On the eve of the Assembly, the opinion was expressed that at least dialogue should be possible. It is so, but dialogue is not an ultimate goal as such. Dialogue should shed light on what’s happening. Dialogue should draw attention to injustice, reveal both the victims and the perpetrators – and their accomplices. However, dialogue that doesn’t go beyond wishful thinking and vague generalizations can at worst become a platform for justification and propaganda. What kind of dialogue are we having here? This is a choice for the Assembly to make, and Germany’s position – I speak here also on behalf of the federal government – ​​is clear.”

    The President of Germany reminded the audience that hundreds of Orthodox priests took part in public resistance and opposed the war, despite the threats issued by the Putin regime. He addressed these individuals: “Even if you cannot be present at this Assembly and speak to us today, we hear you! May your voice also be heard in this Assembly.”

    “The leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church joined the war crimes against Ukraine. This totalitarian ideology, disguised as theology, led to the complete or partial destruction of many religious objects across the territory of Ukraine – churches, mosques, synagogues, educational and administrative buildings belonging to religious communities. No Christian who still possesses their faith, their mind, and their feelings will be able to see God’s will in this. All this fundamentally contradicts the third symbol of the Assembly’s logo – the cross,” concluded Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

    It should be recalled that the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine approved a sanction package targeting Patriarch Cyril and other top clerics of the Russian Orthodox Church, due to their support for the Russian war on Ukraine. The ROC decried sanctions as “political PR.”

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