“Cain, what have you done? the voice of your brother’s blood cries out to me from the earth” (Genesis 4:10).
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
The topic of the war with Ukraine causes disagreement between us even more than the issues related to the Covid epidemic and vaccination against it. Moreover, these disagreements over the war cannot be explained by the fact that there are both Russians and Ukrainians in our parishes. The issue of the war in Ukraine touches us so deeply because it lies primarily in the spiritual and moral plane. This is not a matter of politics; in relation to this war, there is a painful clash between ideology and conscience.
The desire of church leaders to avoid discussing this topic is understandable, so as not to aggravate the conflict and not cause alienation from some part of the flock. But this is the wrong approach. The Church should not divide or alienate anyone from herself, but at the same time, the Church should guide and lead. The congregation expects spiritual guidance from the clergy, especially in these times of extreme spiritual disarray and confusion.
The Church Abroad has always been for the Russian people a voice of truth, exposing the lies of the godless Communist regime. The current Russian government is essentially the same dictatorship of the Chekists, only in a new guise.
It must be said that the Russian imperial ideology, in the name of which this war is being waged, was inherent in the Russian Church Abroad from the very beginning. Our Church has been preaching for decades that the Orthodox peoples of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus constitute a single people who must live within the borders of a single state. For example, Met. Anthony (Khrapovitsky) equated the Ukrainian separatists of his time with the Bolsheviks. At the heart of such a negative attitude of the Church towards Ukrainian separatism was primarily a concern for the unity of the Orthodox Church and the fear that the separation of Ukraine from Russia would strengthen the influence of Catholicism there.
But times are changing. It is impossible to identify today’s Russia with the former Orthodox Russian Empire. In any case, no ideology, even the most beautiful, can justify bloodshed. When an ideology is not content with words for its assertion, but demands bloodshed, then that ideology becomes criminal.
We consider the issue of the war with Ukraine not from the political, but from the spiritual and moral side.
You can talk as much as you like about the origin of the Ukrainian nation, the sources of the Ukrainian language, etc. You can consider issues of geopolitics, talk about the interests of America or the European Union in this war, speculate about the secret plans of the world shadow government. But whatever conclusions we may reach, no consideration can justify this senseless fratricidal slaughter.
It should also be recalled that during the collapse of the USSR, Ukraine renounced the nuclear weapons available on its territory and transferred them to Russia, in exchange for guarantees of its security and territorial integrity (“Budapest Memorandum” of 1994) These guarantees were treacherously violated by Putin back in 2014, with the general jubilation of the Russian people, when Russian troops occupied Crimea and regions in eastern Ukraine.
The war in Ukraine was unleashed by the Russian authorities, the basis of which is the KGB. The criminal Chekist regime committed this atrocity and made the Russian people an accomplice to their crime. The greatest tragedy is that a huge number of Russian people approve and justify this war, and thus share the responsibility for it. By God’s righteous judgment, those who approve of iniquity become partakers of it. “Not only those who do evil, but also those who approve of them, are subject to the same or even more severe punishment” (St. John Chrysostom).
A parallel can be drawn with how more than 100 years ago the Russian people agreed to the overthrow of their Tsar, and calmly accepted the murder of the Royal Family, and thus became an accomplice in this crime. Or, better said, the current disasters are a direct consequence of those events.
But not all Russian people approve of the war. Undoubtedly, there are a great many who condemn the invasion of Ukraine. Hundreds of courageous people in Russia were subjected to repression just for openly expressing their disagreement with the war. For the slightest manifestation of disagreement with the regime, dozens of people were sentenced to long prison terms, many were punished with fines, lost their position and property, and were forced to leave Russia. They knew what they were doing, what danger they were exposing themselves to, but their conscience would not allow them to remain silent.
This shows that not everything is lost yet, that the light of conscience and reason has not yet completely faded in Russian people.
And how can we, who live in freedom, remain silent, as if nothing is happening, as if this war does not concern us? No, we must clearly and unequivocally express our condemnation of this criminal, heinous, fratricidal war.
It is necessary to give a moral assessment of what is happening. It is our moral duty to take sides in this conflict: not the side of Russia or Ukraine – that would be the wrong way to put the question, if only because Russia is also a victim of this war. The destructiveness of this war for Russia lies not only in the fact that tens of thousands died and became crippled there, that the economy suffered, but also in the fact that it made Russia guilty of shedding the blood of a brotherly nation.
We must take the side of justice against treachery, the side of truth against lies and propaganda, the side of the victim of the attack, not the attacker. This does not mean that we endorse all the actions of the Ukrainian government or turn a blind eye to the atrocities that undoubtedly occur on both sides of the conflict. But we must not forget that it was Putin’s Russia that attacked Ukraine, and not vice versa. It is unacceptable to put the aggressor and his victim on the same level; And an even more outrageous distortion of reality, when the victim is called the aggressor, as Russian propaganda does.
The propaganda of the Putin regime is even more crafty and skilful than the Soviet propaganda of past years. Twenty years of exposure to this propaganda did not remain without consequences for the Russian people. This propaganda is also heard in the West, as the Russian regime spends billions to promote its narratives in the Western media. The Russian people were seduced by the totally deceitful government and its minion – an equally deceitful church.
Will the Russian people be able to rise from such a terrible spiritual fall? We believe that this is possible. We hope that the Russian people have preserved their love of truth and the feeling of justice.
But arising is possible only through repentance, through a deep and full awareness of one’s sin – Cain’s sin of fratricide.