Thursday, April 14, 2022

Calls for removal of Russian Church from WCC

(Washington Examiner) - The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church faces mounting blowback after expressing support for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his invasion of Ukraine.

Patriarch Kirill, who has also criticized Ukraine and its defenders in the face of aggression, risks losing his place in an international ecumenical council.

The bishop recently described Ukraine and its defenders as "evil forces" who opposed Ukraine uniting with Russia. "God forbid that the present political situation in fraternal Ukraine so close to us should be aimed at making the evil forces that have always strived against the unity of Rus' and the Russian Church gain the upper hand," Kirill said, according to an English translation of his Sunday remarks.

Kirill's support of Putin has put the Russian Orthodox Church at risk of losing international allies. The World Council of Churches, a fellowship of 352 churches across 120 countries, is under pressure to oust Kirill from its ranks.

While the WCC's leaders openly criticized Kirill's decision to support the war in a Monday statement on the council's website, they appeared unwilling to oust the entire Russian Orthodox Church due to the expulsion being a deviation from the organization's goals.

"It is easy to exclude, excommunicate, demonize; but we are called as WCC to use a free and safe platform of encounter and dialogue, to meet and listen to one another even if and when we disagree," said Rev. Ioan Sauca, the acting secretary-general of the WCC.

That doesn't mean Kirill is in the clear, however. Only the council's central committee can expel a member denomination, a spokesperson told Religion News Service. The committee is scheduled to meet between June 15 and June 18.

Several religious leaders are already attempting to make the case that expulsion is a good idea. Czech pastor Pavel Cerny, the former chairman of the Council of Churches in the Czech Republic, argued in a March 26 opinion piece that the ROC should not be allowed to be a part of the WCC due to its complicit support of Russia and the history of ROC leaders being connected to the KGB.

Rev. Rob Schenk, the president of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute, is also organizing an effort among the WCC's member denominations to press for a vote to exclude Kirill from leadership. Schenk posted an online petition to promote the ousting of Kirill and the ROC from the WCC...

Complete article here.

(ROC) - On February 27, 2022, in his Primatial homily after the Liturgy at the Cathedral Church of Christ the Saviour, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia spoke about the events going on in Ukraine. In particular, His Holiness said:

Today we also need unity - the unity with our brothers and sisters in Ukraine. We are aware of the difficult circumstances encountered today by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. I especially prayed today for His Beatitude the Primate and certainly for the whole episcopate and all the faithful people of Ukraine; and I call you to lift up these prayers too. God forbid that the present political situation in fraternal Ukraine so close to us should be aimed at making the evil forces that have always strived against the unity of Rus’ and the Russian Church, gain the upper hand. God forbid that a terrible line stained with the blood of our brothers should be drawn between Russia and Ukraine. We should pray for the restoration of peace, for the restoration of good fraternal relations between our peoples. A guarantee of this fellowship is our united Orthodox Church represented in Ukraine by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church headed by His Beatitude Onuphry. We prayed for them today as well. We prayed that the Lord may give them strength and wisdom to repulse the attacks of the evil one while serving their people in faith and truth promoting peace by all possible ways.

May the Lord preserve our Church in unity. May the Lord protect from fratricidal battle the peoples comprising the one space of the Russian Orthodox Church. It must not be allowed to give the dark and hostile external forces an occasion to laugh at us; we should do everything to preserve peace between our peoples while protecting our common historical Motherland against every outside action that can destroy this unity.

Today we lift up a special prayer for His Beatitude Onuphry, for our Church and for our devout faithful. May the Lord preserve the Russian land. When I say “Russian”, I use the ancient expression from “A Tale of Bygone Years” - “Wherefrom has the Russian land come”, the land which now includes Russia and Ukraine and Belarus and other tribes and peoples. That the Lord may protect the Russian land against external enemies, against internal disorders, that the unity of our Church may strengthen and that by God’s mercy all the temptations, diabolical attacks, provocations may retreat and that our devout people in Ukraine may enjoy peace and tranquillity - these are our prayers today. And I ask you all to mention His Beatitude Onuphry in year prayers in church and at home, to mention our brothers and sisters in Ukraine and to pray for peace.


  1. Well, that would be ironic: an Orthodox church leaving the ecumenical movement, but unwillingly and because of falling into sins that repel even the heterodox. --Dionysius Redington

  2. The only ecumenicism that matters is communion with fellow Orthodox, who are currently split several different ways last I counted.

    I imagine Russian society is roughly divided over the Ukraine war in much the same way the US was divided over the second Iraq war. Half the US saw it as a pretextual war crime, and half saw it as a righteous crusade against dictatorship and Weapons of Mass Destruction. I assume (this was before my chrismation) that at least some Orthodox bishops supported the US government's war on Iraq.

    Russia gets invaded from its western frontier rather consistently--it wants access to the Black Sea, and it doesn't want NATO in Ukraine, which it regards as an imperial province in any event. +Kirill is an elderly, conservative Russian; he likely reflects the views of lots of elderly, conservative Russians. His Church is wedded to the country of Russia through a long, intergenerational succession of baptisms, weddings and funerals. The Russian Orthodox Church is as Russian as the Greek Orthodox Church is Greek. When the Russian State goes to war, its Church supports it. This perspective is not so alien to American Christians, who accept their country's ultimate secular democratic authority over the Church.

    In any event, fratricidal wars between two peoples with sub-replacement fertility are tragic and horrible, and Putin should not have initiated hostilities. The churchmen on both sides should be exhorting their national leadership for peace.

  3. Only the WCC? That's a bit limited eh?