The head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Epiphanius, said that wishing for the death of an enemy and killing Russian soldiers who invaded the country is not a sin. At the same time, the Metropolitan called on all Orthodox Ukrainians, including believers and clergy of the Moscow Patriarchate, to unite around the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
“As a nation, we do not seek the deaths of our neighbors. But because they came to our home, we protect our family, our homeland, our country. Our soldiers are protecting all Ukrainians. Protecting, killing the enemy, is not a sin,” said Epiphanius, according to the Unian agency.
“And whoever comes to us with a sword will perish by that sword,” he added.
A Russian fog hangs over the Vatican￼
The Vatican refuses to name Russia as the aggressor as it seeks closer relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, writes Jacek Dziedzina for Catholic portal Gosc.pl
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church had broken relations with Russia since the Russian invasion in 2014 when separatist areas in the east of Ukraine tore away, and Crimea became part of Russia.
The Ukrainian branch of the Orthodox Church unilaterally separated from the Moscow Patriarchate as early as the 1990s. It was not until 2018 that the Patriarch of Constantinople, who is recognized as the highest authority in Orthodoxy, consecrated the separation. Moscow Patriarch Kyrill, who maintains close relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, has sharply criticized this, claiming that “Ukrainians and Russians are one country, one nation.”
Metropolitan Epiphanius of Kyiv added on Monday that Ukraine is “ready to receive everyone with love. We are ready to build together the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – a church that serves and will continue to serve the interests of the Ukrainian people.”
The harsher rhetoric from the two Orthodox churches contrasts sharply with other modern, liberal Christian leaders, such as Pope Francis.