Letter from the Chairman of the EESC to the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia
Author: Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki
Warsaw, March 2, 2022
Thank you very much for the words in the letter from Metropolitan Hilarion yesterday. I share Your Holiness's view that hostility towards any nation is always unacceptable. We are all brothers, therefore we perceive each misfortune of the Ukrainian or Russian people as our own. That is why we pray with all our hearts for peace in Ukraine.
However, in order for our prayer not to be considered an expression of hypocrisy, it must be accompanied by deeds. I believe, Your Holiness, that you are a man of peace. Our Lord Jesus Christ taught: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God" (Mt 5: 9). Therefore, I am asking you, Brother, to appeal to Vladimir Putin to stop the senseless struggle with the Ukrainian people, in which innocent people are dying and suffering affects not only soldiers, but also civilians - especially women and children. One man can stop the suffering of thousands of people with just one word - that is the president of the Russian Federation. I am asking you, as humbly as possible, to appeal for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the sovereign state that is Ukraine.
No reason, no reason ever justifies the decision to start a military invasion of an independent country, bombing housing estates, schools or kindergartens. War is always mankind's defeat. This war - as I wrote in the previous letter - is all the more meaningless due to the closeness of both nations and their Christian roots. Is it allowed to destroy the cradle of Christianity on Slavic soil, the place of the baptism of Rus?
I also ask you to appeal to Russian soldiers not to participate in this unjust war, to refuse to obey orders which, as we can already see, result in numerous war crimes. Refusing to carry out an order in such a situation is a moral obligation. The time will come for these crimes to be brought to justice, also before international tribunals. If, however, someone can avoid this human justice, there is a tribunal that cannot be avoided. "For we must all appear before the tribunal of Christ, that each one may receive payment for the works done in the flesh, bad or good" (2 Cor 5:10).
I believe that many of the Russians sent to the war are noble people. "We don't know who to shoot at, they all look like us ..." said one of your soldiers. So I ask you to appeal to them to come home as soon as possible without staining their hands with innocent blood.
As disciples of Christ, we know that the main weapon at the disposal of the Church is the spiritual weapon. "This kind of evil spirits is only cast out by prayer and fasting," we read in St. Matthew (Mt 17:21; Mk 9:29). In Poland, in response to the appeal of Pope Francis, today we announced a day of prayer and fasting for the establishment of a just peace in Ukraine. I am asking You, Brother, to call on all the Orthodox brothers in Russia to undertake a similar spiritual work. I believe that God will not remain indifferent to our prayers and sacrifices. I believe that fasting and prayer change the human heart.
In Christ the Lord,
+ Stanisław Gądecki
Metropolitan Archbishop of Poznań,
Chairman of the Polish Episcopal Conference