by Efi Efthimiou
The public statement issued by the World Council of Churches was a strong slap in the face of those responsible for the war in Ukraine.
“The war, with the killing and all the other miserable consequences it entails, is incompatible with God’s very nature and will for humanity and against our fundamental Christian and ecumenical principles,” is described in a public statement issued by the World Council of Churches (WCC) governing body.
While condemning the illegal and unjustified war “inflicted on the people and the sovereign state of Ukraine”, the central committee of the WCC spoke of “the awful and continuing toll of deaths, destruction, and displacement, of destroyed relationships and ever more deeply entrenched antagonism between the people of the region, of escalating confrontation globally, of increased famine risk in food-insecure regions of the world, of economic hardship and heightened social and political instability in many countries”.
It is characteristic that the announcement “rejects any misuse of religious language and authority to justify armed aggression”.
The governing body reiterated “the appeal of the global fellowship of churches represented in the WCC for an end to this tragic war, for an immediate ceasefire to halt the death and destruction, and for dialogue and negotiations to secure a sustainable peace.”
The statement further calls for “a much greater investment by the international community in searching for and promoting peace, rather than in escalating confrontation and division”.
It also affirms “the mandate and special role of the World Council of Churches in accompanying its member churches in the region and as a platform and safe space for encounter and dialogue in order to address the many pressing issues for the world and for the ecumenical movement arising from this conflict, and the obligation of its members to seek unity and together serve the world, and therefore urges members of the ecumenical fellowship in Russia and Ukraine to make use of this platform.”
The “continuity” of the views of the World Council of Churches
This stance of WCC should not come as a surprise. In Paralimni of Cyprus, in May, where all the Orthodox Churches met for the first time after the Russian invasion, there was unanimous condemnation of the war and of the disinformation campaigns that promote hatred and division.
It was also the first time that the views of all the Churches – including the Russian Church – were heard after many years, especially at a time when a war is in progress.
The condemnation of the war also came from the Russian side (since there were no different interpretations in the positions of the delegations or in the text).
With today’s public statement, the World Council of Churches speaks clearly of an invasion of a sovereign state as well as an illegal and unfair war.
More importantly, it rejects the misuse of the religious language to justify the invasion, “showing” essentially the Patriarchate of Moscow, which in recent years has followed a strategy that is almost identical to that of the Kremlin.
Finally, it confirms its role as a safe and reliable platform for dialogue between the Orthodox Churches, even in the midst of a war between Orthodox countries.