Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios made an impassioned appeal for an end to the war in Ukraine in his Sunday sermon, while clearly condemning the invaders.
“Our dear Christians, war cannot and must never be an option in resolving any differences. Weapons spread death and, certainly, make no distinctions. They kill everybody. The tragic images being broadcast around the world over the past 25 days bear witness,” Vartholomaios said.
“Unfortunately, the invaders of Ukraine, a sovereign and independent state, believers in the same (religion), appear to seek the total humiliation of the proud, worshipful Ukrainian people, their brothers, who fight bravely and sacrifice themselves for their freedom. At the same time, however, those who chose thε path of war are leading their own youth to destruction. Several thousand Russian soldiers have already lost their lives. Simple people on both sides are already experiencing the effects of the war. Ukrainian and Russian mothers have seen their children leave to fight and many, unfortunately, already mourn their loss. We take advantage of our presence here to assert, once again, with all our strength: stop this horror! Stop the war now! Enough with the madness! How much blood will our earth bear? How many dead will she contain in her bosom? How many more tears will wet her soil?” the Patrairch said.
Vartholomaios reminded the attending faithful that the Ecumenical Patriarchte had denounced the invasion of Ukraine from the very start and asked for an immediate stop to the war and calling for incessant prayers “for peace all over the world” which only a sincere dialogue can lead to.
The Ecumenical Patriarch added that Istanbul’s small Christian Orthodox community had done lots to help suffering Ukrainians and help refugees from that country resettle, something he said he was very proud of.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate, first among equals in Orthodox Christianity, has clashed with the Russian Church over the Ukrainian Church’s decision to severe ties with Moscow and attach itself to Istanbul.
Also Sunday, Pope Francis told thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square, in Rome, that every day brings more atrocities in what is a “senseless massacre.”
“There is no justification for this,” Francis said, in an apparent reference to Russia, which sought to justify its invasion as vital for its own defense. But Francis again stopped short of naming Russia as the aggressor. Pontiffs typically have decried wars and their devastating toll on civilians without citing warmongers by name.