More than 150 global faith leaders and clergy personally endorsed a letter addressed to Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church, asking him to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to de-escalate the conflict in Ukraine and to seek a peaceful resolution instead.
The letter, translated into Russian, was sent on March 6 to heads of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill – Leningrad-born Vladimir Mikhailovich Gundyaev – as well as Metropolitan Hilarion [Alfeyev], an influential bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Among the signatories are His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Swami Rameshwarananda Giri, Venerable Dharmakosajarn and Rabbi David Rosen.
The interfaith leaders expressed their concern with the war and emphasized the important role religious leaders play in promoting peace between Russia and Ukraine.
The letter asks Kirill to use his prominent position as head of the Russian Orthodox Church to help stop the violence and support peace among the two nations.
“We, religious leaders representing many faith traditions, write to express our concern with the war taking place in Ukraine. We are mindful of our religious obligation to choose peace through dialogue. Our role is to pray for and support peaceful resolutions of conflict situations,” the letter fervently stated.
“We are saddened to see the fighting, which pits people of faith against each other.”
The letter laments how the current conflict has already resulted in significant loss of lives, both combatants and civilians.
“The conflict also poses a much wider risk of destruction beyond Ukraine, including the very real threat of a nuclear accident and a larger conflict between nuclear armed powers, which we know God wants us to avoid at all costs,” the signatories added.
“In light of your close connection to President Vladimir Putin, we call on you to request that he take immediate steps to de-escalate the conflict, and seek a peaceful resolution to it.”
“In this moment, religious leaders are called to rise to the occasion on behalf of God, people, and all creatures," the letter concludes.
About 59 million people in Russia, roughly 41% of the population, are affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church, making it the largest religious denomination in Russia. The movement has grown significantly since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.
An additional 40% of the Russian population affiliate either with a different Christian denomination or religion, or simply identify themselves as "believers."
The text of the letter, including a full list of signatories, is available here.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.