German bishops ask Kirill to condemn the war

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Children at the Central Station in Kyiv, Ukraine, watch from an evacuation train to Lviv on March 3, 2022, as they say goodbye to their father.

Photo CNS/Gleb Garanich, Reuters

The German Bishops’ Conference has called on the Patriarch of Moscow to take a clear stand against Russian military aggression in Ukraine.

He earnestly hoped for a “clear declaration against Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine,” underlined in Bonn on March 4, Msgr. Gerhard Feige of Magdeburg, who heads the conference’s ecumenical commission.

Feige strongly condemned the violence and destruction that Russian armies were causing in Ukraine. He hoped the war would soon be over and the bloodshed would stop, he said. “The faithful of all faiths and religions in Ukraine are suffering in this war and it is the responsibility of the Patriarchate of Moscow to act for them all.”

The German bishops also condemned any justification for Russia’s war of aggression. “There must be no overt or indirect support or legitimization of the Russian war from religious protagonists,” Feige said. Earlier this week, Moscow Patriarch Cyril called Russian opponents “forces of evil”.

The head of the Justice and Peace Commission in Germany, Bishop Peter Kohlgraf of Mainz, criticized the “close relations” between the Russian Orthodox Church and political powers in Russia. It was fundamentally problematic “to consolidate political power with theological motives”. War and violence against others can never be theologically justified, he stressed on March 4 on German radio.

“Behind the scenes, Germany must do everything in its power to de-escalate the conflict, but it must also make it clear that it stands with the Ukrainian people and that the government has now done so by sending arms,” German military bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen told the Bild Zeitung.

Meanwhile, Catholic bishops in Africa remain silent on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as few governments on the continent condemn the conflict.

The Tablet has reached the Catholic Church in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic (CAR) and Kenya. Sudan said he preferred not to comment for the good of the Church. On February 23, Sudanese General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo traveled to Russia to meet with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and defense officials.

Kenyan officials said there would be no comment or statement from the Bishops. without giving reasons. Similarly, the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences of Eastern Africa (AMECEA) said it would not comment on the matter.

At press time, the church in the DRC and CAR had not responded to a request for comment. Russia has a known presence in the CAR, while some reports indicate that it has attempted to increase its presence in the DRC.

The loudest voices against the Russian invasion come from the Church in South Africa. While the country abstained in the vote on the UN General Assembly motion to reprimand Russia, Jesuits and Anglicans condemned the Russian invasion.

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