By Efi Efthimiou
The Patriarchate of Jerusalem expressed its support and solidarity to… the Russian Orthodox Church and its Primate, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, through the mouth of Archbishop Theodosios of Sevastia.
Archbishop Theodosios of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem spoke “to a group of British journalists from various news agencies”, according to the website of the department of the external church relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow (under new administration after the dismissal of Metropolitan Hilarion).
In his statements, he praised the Russian Patriarch and spoke of Western provocations against him.
“We cannot silently see such attacks, which we consider to be illegal, inappropriate actions against a religious person of a high standard, who is a true spiritual symbol of modern Orthodoxy,” said Archbishop Theodosios.
He calls on “those who engage in incitement in the West against Patriarch Kirill to abandon their aggressive attitude not only against His Holiness but also against the entire Orthodox Church.”
According to the Hierarch of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Patriarch Kirill does not participate in any political conflict.
“He, as a man of peace, is always in favor of dialogue. The accusations against Patriarch Kirill are false and unfounded. I would like to emphasize again that the Patriarch always called on all sides to reconcile, to renounce wars and violence,” were his statements.
He then added that “the provocations against the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church are perceived by us as hostile actions on the part of the West against the entire Orthodox Church.
Once again I would like to express a sense of profound solidarity with the Russian Church, and the certainty that these accusations, which are unfounded, will not affect the life of the Russian Orthodox Church, its head, clergy, and faithful.”
The Archbishop of Sevastia even added that from the lips of Patriarch Kirill (“Primate for more than 100 million believers, not only from Russia and Ukraine, but also from many other countries of the world”), there were always sermons about love, peace, and mercy, as well as calls for reconciliation of all parties to the conflict, but also a rejection of all forms of violence and terrorism.
As can be seen from the statements of Archbishop Theodosios, it is the Patriarch of Moscow who needs support and solidarity, as he is “attacked” by unjust war and accusations from the “West”.
It is recalled that on February 24, the Russian army invaded Ukrainian territory, and for four months now the bombing and killing of civilians has continued, culminating in the blockade and siege of Mariupol, as well as the destruction and bombing of churches.
Patriarch Kirill was “active” in his sermons in favor of war from the very first moment, following government policy closely.
In his statements, the Patriarch of Moscow described the bombing of the Ukrainian cities by the Russian forces as “a deterioration of the political situation in Donbas”, while attributing the causes of the war to the gay parades.
Other times, he stated that the conflict in Ukraine aims “first and foremost” at the weakening of Russia and that the cause of the war lies in the relations between the West and Russia and the expansion of NATO, but also in… the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew who is being accused of creating an ecclesiastical schism.
At the same time, he donates an icon of the Virgin Mary to the leader of the Russian militia in order to achieve a “quick victory” against the Ukrainians, it is a special Divine Liturgy for the Russian soldiers whom he calls to defend their country “as only the Russians can”, he calls on the Russian citizens to support the Kremlin in order to win the war in Ukraine and states that – according to him – Russia never attacked anyone, “only defends its borders”.
There are two things that should be noted:
How did the Archbishop of Sevastia consider that it is the Patriarch of Moscow who is in need of support and solidarity, and not the Ukrainian people and the faithful and priests who have been living in a state of war for four months, for whom he hasn’t been supportive?
And why did the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which in a single statement on the war in the first days of the invasion speaks of a “painful crisis” without even mentioning the name of Russia or the attack, chose to offer its full support to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow in such an eloquent way, at a time when the Churches condemn the war in Ukraine and the use of religious discourse to justify the causes of the war, as is characteristically stated in the recent communiqué of the World Council of Churches?