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CTE Presidents call for ‘immediate cessation of hostilities’ in Ukraine

17 March 2022

Diocese of Bath & Wells

A collection point for donations for Ukrainian refugees in a church building in Bath & Wells diocese, this month

A collection point for donations for Ukrainian refugees in a church building in Bath & Wells diocese, this month

THE Presidents of Churches Together in England (CTE) — who include the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols — have called for peace in Ukraine and swift action to support refugees from the conflict.

A statement released on Tuesday called for an “immediate cessation of hostilities, the withdrawal of invading forces and the observance of the Geneva Conventions”.

It continued: “In this holy season of Lent, we call upon churches everywhere to campaign for an immediate end to the war in Ukraine, and to proclaim the dignity of every human life, whatever its nationality.”

A separate statement, approved on Wednesday at a meeting of CTE’s members, welcomes the Government’s decision to expand the visa scheme for people fleeing Ukraine, and highlights the part that churches can play in supporting refugees.

It also calls on the Government to “consider amendments” to the Borders and Nationality Bill (News, 11 March): “Refugees come from many nations in conflict, and we pray that Britain might become a society where strangers find a welcome, whatever their origin.”

The statement also draws attention to “the discrimination against African and Asian people and those of religious minorities fleeing Ukraine”, and to “the slowness to welcome Afghan refugees who are already in Britain”.

The General Secretary of Churches Together in England, the Revd Dr Paul Goodliff, told the Church Times that there was “nothing intentional” in the fact that the first statement did not name Russia as the aggressor.

Archpriest Stephen Platt, the Secretary for Inter-Christian Affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) in Great Britain and Ireland, was among the representatives of CTE’s 52 member Churches who unanimously endorsed the statement.

Dr Goodliff said that Russian Orthodox parishes in England were “generally mixed Ukrainian and Russian in nationality and they are very supportive of the call to peace. They’re not identifying with the approach that Moscow is taking.” Patriarch Kirill has been widely criticised for his failure to condemn the invasion (News, 2 March).

On BBC Radio 4 on 6 March, Fr Platt said of the reaction from Moscow that the “situation was complex” and that Russian Orthodox priests in Russia risked imprisonment for speaking out against the war. Fr Platt is among Russian Orthodox priests to have signed a letter calling for peace, and said that clerics outside Russia had a “unique calling to speak the truth” about the conflict.

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