Heads of Churches condemn war in Ukraine, demand immediate ceasefire and dialogue

BETH NAHRIN / KIYV — Church leaders from around the world continue to speak out against the Russian invasion of Ukraine which has killed tens of thousands of civilians and made millions more refugees and internally displaced persons. In his sermon on Sunday in Beth Kerke (Bkerke), Syriac Maronite Patriarch Mor Bechara Boutros al-Raï called for an immediate cessation of hostilities.

“In the name of humanity and millions of Ukrainians refugees and victims who fall on the Ukrainian and Russian soil, I denounce this war and call for its cessation,” stated the Patriarch, noting that war brings nothing but killing, destruction, displacement, impoverishment, starvation, the destruction of nature, hatred, and enmity.

Chaldean Patriarch Cardinal Louis Raphaël I Sako, in turn, sent a message of solidarity to the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, wishing peace for the Ukrainian and Russian peoples.

“We follow up what is happening in your country, and we feel your feelings, concerns and fears about the future, because we experienced a similar situation in Iraq. Nothing can justify war because it is not a solution to problems, but rather complicates them and leaves negative effects,” said the Cardinal. “Sincere, courageous, and calm dialogue among peace-loving peoples is the only way to solve problems, as long as there is a chance for dialogue.”

Chairman of Archbishops Committee of the European Community and Archbishop of Luxembourg Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich sent a letter to Russian Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill I, asking him to be a carrier of hope and ask the Russian authorities to stop hostilities against Ukraine, pursue diplomatic solutions, and open humanitarian corridors for the displaced people.

Cardinal Hollerich spoke about the pain he feels about the tragic consequences of what he called “madness of war in Ukraine.”

“Thousands of people, military and civilians, have lost their lives, in addition to more than a million people who have been displaced,” added the Cardinal, noting that the largest group of these people are women and children.

Hollerich stated that due to violent attacks, fears of a large-scale war in Europe or even in the whole world are raised, which would have catastrophic repercussions.

Following statements by Moscow that it would seek to deploy Syrian mercenaries to Ukraine, Mufti of the Religious Administration of Muslims in Ukraine Sheikh Saeed Ismagilov called on Syrian Muslims not to join Russia in its war on Ukraine.

In a circulated video, Ismagilov appealed to Syrian fighters not to come to Ukraine to kill them.

“It was Russia that attacked Ukraine and killed children and women, so do not be part of the sin,” he stated. In the days since his address to Syrian Muslims, Ismagilov has joined Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces.