Ukrainian archbishop compares Russian Orthodox war defense to ISIS
ROME — Ukraine’s top Greek-Catholic prelate has condemned the justification of the current war ravaging the country on the grounds that Christian morality is protected, saying the logic is similar to the fundamentalism embraced by Islamic terrorists.
Speaking via video conference at a May 23 event titled “Ukraine: Building Peace,” Major Archbishop of the Greek Catholic Church of Ukraine, Sviatoslav Shevchuk, said the current war is inconceivable for a lot, because “for centuries Ukrainians and Russians lived together.
He criticized the justifications given for the war by the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, who backed Putin’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine on the grounds that growing Western “Russophobia” is inciting international organizations such as the of the North Atlantic Treaty (NATO) to be strengthened in order to weaken Russia.
Kirill also characterized the conflict as a holy war waged against Western secularism, using sermons to denounce the violation of “God’s law” through the acceptance of homosexuality and the protection of LGBT rights.
In his remarks, Shevchuk criticized Kirill’s “Christian justification for this war”, saying that he and others who repeat the same rhetoric are “really exploiting the Christian message for a Russian nationalist ideology”.
Shevchuk warned that justifying the war on religious grounds “is getting closer and closer to the doctrine of ISIS, ISIS.”
Proponents of war among the Russian Orthodox, including Kirill, “are making the same arguments, but in this case under the banner of Christians,” Shevchuk said, noting that the conflict of my many Russian Orthodox elites has been called “ metaphysical war…against universal globalization, especially Western and American globalization”.
“They warn of the dangers of religious globalization, the danger against true and genuine orthodoxy,” he said. “This metaphysical war is a war against Western morality. They are increasingly trying to portray Ukrainian society as being under the influence of Western immorality, and because of that, it is an Antichrist ideology.
According to this view, he said: “Ukraine carries within it the seed of the Antichrist, and because of this, it must be eliminated. It’s crazy, but in the name of that, they kill people.
Shevchuk spoke as part of a panel at an event organized by the Ambrosianeum Foundation exploring how actors at different levels of society can contribute to peacebuilding efforts in Ukraine amid war with Russia extends into its third month.
Since Russia first invaded Ukraine on February 24, more than 10 million people have fled their homes and are either living as refugees abroad or as displaced people in other parts of the country.
Until three months ago, “I could never have imagined in my life being the head of my Church during wartime,” Shevchuk said, saying war was considered a thing of the past, but when the first missiles began to fall in In the early hours of February 24, “we woke up to a completely different reality from what we were used to”.
“From that day on, Russia and Ukraine as they were before no longer exist,” he said, calling the war itself “madness” and the intensity of the fighting on the field of “evil” battle.
Many people have wondered why the war was fought and why such violence is necessary, he said, saying he too had asked himself the same question after speaking with people, meeting survivors of bomb or missile attacks, or visited cities liberated from Russian occupation. .
“This war is really causing a human tragedy never seen in Ukraine,” he said, saying it was very significant, given that Ukraine during World War II was called “the land of blood”.
“Unfortunately today it is repeating itself,” he said, noting that since the start of the war around 500 people have taken refuge inside his cathedral, including the underground bunker where civilians went to take shelter from the bombs.
Shevchuk said he saw entire families, including children, who were killed and burned, and heard stories of Russian soldiers shooting Ukrainian civilians because of their profession, in order to “eliminate any expression of the Ukrainian people”. .
“This question must affect us all… Also cultural centers and all institutions: why? In the third millennium, how is this possible?
He also condemned the use of rape and sexual violence as a weapon, saying there have been “hundreds” of reported cases of women, men and even children being raped in occupied cities in order to humiliate and terrorize the population.
Recalling his own Soviet-era military service, Shevchuk said that in those days when rapes happened, commanders were thought to have lost control of their troops, but in the case of the current war, the victims say the soldiers “are encouraged and given orders” to commit the rapes.
This violence and others, he said, are part of an “extreme evil” that he says is rooted in “an ideology, which has a name. This is called the ideology of the Russian world.
Stressing the need to pray for peace, Shevchuk said there was “a lot of fear and a lot of hatred” felt by people, and the healing process will take years.
“I hope that as humanity we are able to stop this massacre, this ideology and seek a final solution,” he said.
Archbishop Mario Delpini of Milan, who is currently attending the Spring Plenary Assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference, also spoke via video, thanking Shevchuk for his presence and for offering the message that “God works in hearts and also calls people who are hostile to each other to conversion, so that they realize that they are called to a higher fraternity.
He assured Shevchuk of his personal prayers and solidarity, and that of the local church community in Milan, saying, “we share your pain.”
Delpini said many were shocked by the outbreak of the war and deeply disturbed by “the harm people are doing”, as evidenced by images from Ukraine.
He pledged continued support by sending medical and other essential supplies, and welcoming Ukrainian refugees who fled the war, saying some refugees are hosted by diocesan parishes and other structures in Milan.
Regarding the need to build peace, Delpini said that peace itself “is a system of relationships that are constructive for relationships between people…not those commanded by political forces, but possible through the persuasion of people called to be brothers and sisters”.
“I pray to the Lord that a time of prayer begins, a time of personal encounters, a time of fraternity,” he said.
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