Russian Church Calls Ukraine Invasion ‘Holy War’

( – The Russian Orthodox Church has endorsed President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as a “Holy War,” as affirmed in a document approved during a gathering of the World Russian People’s Council at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. This assembly brought together religious, political, and cultural figures.

Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church and the council, known to be an ally of Putin, has faced criticism for justifying the war on religious grounds rather than outrightly denouncing the violence in Ukraine.

In February 2022, Patriarch Kirill referred to Ukraine and Belarus as part of “Russian lands” and labeled Ukrainians resisting Russian aggression as “forces of evil,” framing the conflict as a battle for the future of Christianity.

The document, termed “special military operation” by the Kremlin, presents the conflict as a “Holy War” from a spiritual and moral standpoint, depicting Russia and its people as defenders of the spiritual realm of Holy Russia.

Furthermore, it contends that the war aims to shield the world from the advance of globalism and the perceived triumph of the West, which it accuses of descending into Satanism. The document asserts that post-war, the entire territory of modern Ukraine should fall under Russia’s exclusive influence, eradicating the possibility of a Russophobic regime hostile to Russia.

Despite global condemnation of the war by Orthodox leaders, including the U.S. Orthodox Public Affairs Committee (OPAC), the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) took a strong stance by breaking away from the Russian Orthodox Church after the invasion.

Meanwhile, during an interview, Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, condemned the systematic destruction of non-Russian Orthodox religious sites by Russian forces. He stressed the need to shield Ukraine’s religious diversity from Russian attempts to weaponize the Russian Orthodox Church for political gain. Shevchuk’s church maintains communion with the Vatican and is the second-largest in the Catholic faith after the Latin Church. He recently visited Washington, D.C., to inform U.S. lawmakers of the extensive damage inflicted on religious structures by the war.

According to the Kyiv-based Institute for Religious Freedom, Russian military actions have resulted in the destruction, damage, or looting of over 400 religious sites, with the actual figure likely surpassing this estimate.

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