Please ask Putin to stop the war in Ukraine

Polish Catholic Archbishop to Russian Orthodox Leader: Please ask Putin to stop the war in Ukraine.

Bishop Stanisław Gądecki and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. / via Wikimedia (CC BY 4.0).

Warsaw, Poland, March 2, 2022 / 10:55 p.m. (CNA).

The head of the Polish Catholic Bishops’ Conference has urged the head of the Russian Orthodox Church to ask President Vladimir Putin to stop the war in Ukraine.

In strong language letter dated March 2, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki told Patriarch Kirill of Moscow that Putin could “stop the suffering of thousands of people with just one word.”

“I ask you, brother, to call on Vladimir Putin to end the senseless war against the Ukrainian people, in which innocent people are being killed and the suffering affects not only soldiers but also civilians – especially women and children “, he wrote.

“One man can stop the suffering of thousands of people with one word – this man is the President of the Russian Federation. I very humbly ask you to call for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the sovereign state of Ukraine.

The UN human rights office noted by March 1, it had recorded 536 civilian casualties since the Russian president ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24. He said he established that 136 civilians had been killed, including 13 children, and 400 injured, including 26 children. , but that the true toll was probably higher.

The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, announced on March 2 that he was open an investigation in alleged war crimes committed by Russia during its campaign.

The UN refugee agency reported on March 2 that more than 900,000 people had fled the fighting in Ukraine. More than half of them have found refuge in Poland, which shares a 532-mile border with the country.

Patriarch Kirill, believed to be close to Putin, has led the Russian Orthodox Church since 2009.

He commented on the war in Ukraine in a address at the Cathedral Church of Christ the Savior in Moscow on February 27, saying, “May the Lord protect the peoples who are part of the united space of the Russian Orthodox Church from internal strife.”

Ukraine is a predominantly Orthodox Christian country of 44 million people that borders Russia.

Eastern Orthodox Christians in Ukraine are divided between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP), under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (OCU), which is affiliated with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

In one speech on the eve of the war, Putin described Ukraine as an “inalienable part” of Russia’s “own history, culture and spiritual space”.

In his message to the Patriarch, Gądecki referred to previous correspondence, thanking Kirill for “for the words conveyed in the letter of Metropolitan Hilarion», the chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church.

“I share Your Holiness’ view that hostility towards any nation is always unacceptable. We are all brothers, therefore we perceive every misfortune of the Ukrainian or Russian people as our own. Therefore, we pray to all hearts for peace in Ukraine,” wrote the Archbishop of Poznań in west-central Poland.

“However, in order for our prayer not to be seen as an expression of hypocrisy, it must be accompanied by action. I believe, Your Holiness, that you are a man of peace. Our Lord Jesus Christ taught: “ Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).”

Gądecki then called the patriarch, the head of more than 100 million Russian Orthodox Christians, to directly call on the Russian President to end the conflict.

The Archbishop continued: “No reason, no justification can ever justify the decision to launch a military invasion of an independent country, bombarding residential areas, schools or kindergartens. War is always a defeat for humanity.

“This war – as I wrote in the previous letter – is even more senseless because of the closeness of the two nations and their Christian roots. Is it permissible to destroy the cradle of Christianity on Slavic soil, the place where Rus was baptized?

The Archbishop was referring to the baptism of Prince Vladimir the Great, ruler of Kyiv Rusin the year 988, an event that led to the Christianization of Russia.

He continued: “I also ask you to call on Russian soldiers not to participate in this unjust war, to refuse to carry out orders which, as we have already seen, lead to many war crimes. Refusing to follow orders in such a situation is a moral obligation.

“The time will come to settle these crimes, including before international courts. However, even if someone manages to avoid this human justice, there is a tribunal that cannot be avoided. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body” (2 Corinthians 5:10).”

The Polish archbishop quoted a Russian soldier in Ukraine saying, “We don’t know who to shoot; they all look like us.

“So, I ask you to urge them to return home as soon as possible without staining their hands with innocent blood,” Gądecki wrote.

The Archbishop noted that Polish Catholics observed a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Ukraine on March 2, responding to a appeal by Pope Francis.

“I ask you, brother, to call on all Orthodox brothers and sisters in Russia to engage in similar spiritual work,” he concluded. “I believe that the Lord God will not remain indifferent to our prayers and our sacrifices. I believe that fasting and prayer change a person’s heart.

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