Moscow Patriarch feels 'pain' after Russian invasion of Ukraine, but does not call for peace
Russia's invasion of Ukraine is now in full forces, so there is not much church leaders can do in the intervention to stop the act and all pleas now are to halt the war or make calls to help the flood of refugees that is springing up and prevent civilian casualties.
The religious leader who is thought to have the ear of President Vladmir Putin, is Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kiril and who could help talk him out of his folly.
Kirll expressed "heartfelt pain" at "events taking place" after Russia launhed the invasion and called "on all parties to the conflict to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties," but stopped short of calling for peace.
But later on Feb. 27 AFP reported that Kiril had at a Sunday serivce called Moscow's opponents in Ukraine "evil forces", speaking on the fourth day of the Kremlin's invasion of its pro-Western neighbour.
"God forbid that the current political situation in brotherly Ukraine should be aimed at ensuring that the evil forces that have always fought against the unity of Russia and the Russian Church prevail," said Patriarch Kirill in an address to parishioners.
Pope Francis visited the Russian embassy to the Holy See in Rome to speak to Russian Ambassador Alexander Avdeyev, on Feb. 25, "to express his concern at the war."
The Pope appealed "to those with political responsibility to examine their consciences seriously before God, who is the God of peace and not of war," Vatican News reported.
And Franics called on believers and non-believers alike to unite in a joint supplication for peace on March 2, Ash Wednesday.
"Jesus taught us that the diabolical senselessness of violence is answered with God's weapons, with prayer and fasting," the Pontiff said.
Pope Francis' visit to the Russian embassy has few if any precedents and reflects the depth of his concern and his readiness to do anything to promote peace, America Magazine reported.
Formal diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the Soviet Union were only established in 1990, shortly before the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Numerous world leaders have called Russia's invasion of Ukraine the greatest threat to peace in Europe since the Second World War.
Pope Franics visit to the Russian embassy to the Holy See in Rome took place as Russian tanks and troops arrived at the outskirts of Kyiv.
In Moscow the website of the Russian Orthodox Church, the biggest church in the Orthodox tradion, carried a statement from Kiril, who is believed to have access to Putin.
"As the Patriarch of All Russia and the primate of a Church whose flock is located in Russia, Ukraine, and other countries, I deeply empathize with everyone affected by this tragedy," said Kiril.
"I call on all parties to the conflict to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties.
"I appeal to the bishops, pastors, monastics, and laity to provide all possible assistance to all victims, including refugees and people left homeless and without means of livelihood."
Kiril said, "The Russian and Ukrainian peoples have a common centuries-old history dating back to the Baptism of Rus' by Prince St. Vladimir the Equal-to-the-Apostles. I believe that this God-given affinity will help overcome the divisions and disagreements that have arisen that have led to the current conflict."
Religious Dispatches commented on Feb. 25, "Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus is not calling for peace in Ukraine.
"Kirill's tepid remarks also stand in contrast to the words of other Orthodox hierarchs," said the publication.
"The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, for example, called the invasion an unprovoked attack and a violation of human rights. Patriarch Daniel of Romania called the violence, " a war launched by Russia against a sovereign and independent state."
"Even Metropolitan Onufry, the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church that's still tied to the Moscow Patriarchate—literally, Kirill's Man in Kyiv—compared the Russian invasion to Cain killing his brother Abel and addressed Putin directly.