World Council of Churches denounces 'Russian campaign to terrorize people of Ukraine'

(Photo: Ivars Kupcis / WCC)Residential buildings and children's playground in Irpin, Kyiv region, destroyed during Russia's invasion of in Ukraine, in August 2022.

World Council of Churches head Rev. Jerry Pillay has denounced Russia's continuing campaign to terrorize Ukraine's people shown by "missile attacks on several Ukrainian cities which have resulted in at least 30 deaths and more than 160 wounded."

Russia struck targets in Kyiv, Odesa, Dnipro, Kharkiv, Lviv, and elsewhere in the early hours of 29 December, hitting a maternity hospital, a shopping centre, and residential buildings.

"Such attacks on civilian targets -- in most cases far from the frontlines -- and Russia's evident efforts to terrorize the entire Ukrainian population are a clear and outrageous violation of international law and of fundamental moral precepts," said WCC general secretary Pillay  on Dec. 30, 2023.

He reiterated the WCC's commitment to continuing to seek ways through its member churches, to can promote dialogue, peace, and "an end to the violence and fear that Russia's invasion has inflicted on the people of Ukraine."

The criticism is significant because the Russian Orthodox Church is the single church with most members in the Geneva-based WCC and is involved in a dispute with Ukrainian Othodoxy.


At the June 2022 meeting of the WCC's main governing body between its once ever seven year assemblies the question on whether the Russian Orthodox Church should be suspended from the council due to its position on the Ukraine war.

The Swiss publication Reform's Martin Hoegger blogged that this was the most debated question at that meeting of the governing body.

Hoegger said that ater a long debate, it was decided not to suspend it the Russin church but to challenge it, using the WCC as a space for dialogue

The BCC reported that Ukraine has not seen attacks as heavy as this since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion .

The report said what's different is not just the size of the strikes - it's the tactics.

The Jan 2 attack lasted six hours in Kyiv as the Russians launched a wave of drones at the capital.

Ukraine's air force said it was able to shoot down all 35 of them.

"But this was followed up with missile attacks, using different kinds of weapons in a bid to overwhelm and break through the city's defences," reported the BBC.

"Missiles have struck the very heart of Kyiv in these last five days, for the first time in months."

Pillay said, "As we approach the New Year, the WCC invites all member churches and all people of faith and goodwill to join in praying for a change of course by the Russian leadership, for respect for international humanitarian and human rights law, for full accountability for the many crimes committed, and for a secure and sustainable peace for the people of Ukraine."

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