Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Druze clergymen and women gathered outside Jerusalem’s Russian Orthodox Holy Trinity Cathedral on Monday to call for an end to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
In a letter to Patriarch Kirill, the senior religious leaders asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to “take immediate steps to de-escalate the conflict, and seek a peaceful resolution to it.”
According to an article in the Times of Israel, the organizers were hoping to deliver the letter in person to local Russian Orthodox Church officials, however, they were told that the officials were in prayer and could not receive it.
They, therefore, posted the letter to the outer wall of the church, evoking the legend of Martin Luther who nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg in 1517.
“We, religious leaders representing many faith traditions, write to express our concern with [events] taking place in Ukraine,” the letter read. “We are saddened to see the fighting, which primarily pits Orthodox Christians against each other. The current conflict has already resulted in a significant loss of life, of both combatants and civilians.”
The letter also warned of the potential for war between nuclear powers.
Patriarch Kirill, 75, has been a close ally of Putin since his third-term reelection in 2022. He shares his vision of Russia and a new world order.
“We have entered into a struggle that has not a physical, but a metaphysical significance. We are talking about human salvation, something much more important than politics,” Kirill said on the invasion of Ukraine in a sermon on March 8.
He recently preached to his church’s 90 million faithful followers that if Russia sees Ukraine as a threat, it has “the right to use force to ensure the threat is eradicated.”
The initiative to send a letter to Kirill by multifaith leaders was initiated by Rabbi Yonatan Neril, founder and director of the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development.
“I believed it was important that there be a public event of religious leaders in the Holy Land affirming the importance of peace, and publicly calling on Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church to speak with President Putin to seek peace,” Neril told The Times of Israel.
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.