A RESOLUTION condemning the use of "violence and aggression by
pro-Russian separatists" was signed at Lambeth Palace on Tuesday,
at a consultation attended by priests from Ukraine and the UK.
Produced by Mission Eurasia and the Baptist World Mission, the
resolution warns that "the Pan-Slavic Orthodox notion of the
so-called 'Russian World' is now monopolising ideology and
practice" in Ukrainian Crimea and the territories of eastern
Ukraine "occupied by pro-Russian separatists".
It was signed by 27 people at the end of a consultation on the
crisis in Ukraine, at which criticism of Russia was repeatedly
expressed. Archbishop Evystratiy Zoria of the Ukrainian Orthodox
Church (Kiev Patriarchate) emphasised that there was no civil war
in Ukraine, and that Russia was waging a "Holy War for the values
of the Russian World against the Godless and decaying West". There
was, he said, "an aggressor and a victim. We cannot say 'both sides
are right or both sides are wrong.'"
He was critical of the World Council of Churches, which sent a
delegation to Ukraine this year. It had met with the Ukrainian
Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) he reported, but only half
the delegation had met the Ukrainian Council of Churches. He was
concerned whether it had therefore heard the whole truth about the
Bishop Anatoly Kalyuzhny, President of the Evangelical Council
of Churches in Ukraine, known as the "Pastor of Maidan", gave the
day's most impassioned speech. Events in Ukraine might seem
"insignificant", with little impact on stability in Britain, he
said, "but that is an illusion and a lie . . . all of our
civilisation is being decided there."
He spoke of Ukrainian widows, orphans, and refugees, and of
rape, and hostage-taking, the imprisonment of pastors and the
destruction of churches.
Although Tuesday's resolution states that the Church is "key to
the process of reconciliation", Ukrainian leaders present warned
that this must not come at the expense of truth.
"We all agree that truth is the beginning of healing," said Dr
Mykhailo Cherenkov, who served as Provost of Donetsk Christian
University until it was seized by pro-Russian forces last year.
"People are in need not just of bread but of truth."
"There can be no peace where there is untruth," agreed Bishop
Michael Panochko of the All-Ukrainian Union of Evangelical
Christians Churches. "Today, it is difficult to say anything about
reconciliation to a young person who has lost his limbs at the
front-line, and there are thousands of those. . . Reconciliation
begins when the fire is put out. As long as tanks and soldiers and
untruths keep coming forward, there can be no reconciliation."