2022.3.4. NCCK Prayer Ceremony for Peace in Ukraine

On Friday, March 4, 2022, Metropolitan Ambrosios of Korea, along with Fr. Roman Kavchak and his family, Fr. Antonios Lim and Deacon Johan Park, participated in the NCCK event at the Seoul Anglican Church for Peace in Ukraine.

At the event, the Metropolitan of Korea was the keynote speaker, during which he delivered the following speech:

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

Many words are not appropriate at a time when the fratricidal war continues in Ukraine. Words must give way to Prayer and Action. Therefore, after thanking you for the honor of being the keynote speaker at today’s event, I will limit myself to mentioning to your love only a few simple thoughts.

After the recent attack by Russia on Ukraine, an independent and sovereign state of Europe, as well as the violation of human rights and the brutal violence against our fellow human beings, and above all on civilians, we are all shocked and very worried, because no one knows the outcome of the war in Ukraine, and the impact it will have on the world community.

The war in Ukraine is the biggest conflict in Europe since World War II, in 80 years. A war that tends to take on uncontrollable proportions, as Russia has put on the table – albeit to serve largely rhetorical purposes – the “paper” of nuclear weapons. So we are not just talking about a possible world war, but about a possible nuclear war, which will be the ultimate destruction of humanity.

Korea has a bitter experience and still fresh memories from the invasion of our country by enemy forces, led by the same invader as the one that has now invaded Ukraine. It has been 70 years since then and we are still living the tragic consequences of the war on the Korean Peninsula. That is why all Christians in Korea must unite to condemn the war in Ukraine, because “there is no greater sin than war” (St. Sophronius of Essex). In the war against Ukraine, the word of the brother of the Lord apostle James is confirmed once again, who tells us with absolute clarity: “Where do the wars come from and where do the disagreements between you come from? Do not they come from your passions that fight within you? (James 4: 1) Also the St. John Chrysostom from the 4th century declares in an absolute way that: “the cause of the war is the love for money, power and glory”. Therefore every war is: «a consequence of evil and sin in the world… The only war allowed… as the least evil is the defensive war, or under certain conditions, the war for liberation. The Church tolerates war as an inevitable, tragic necessity for the protection of the innocent and justice. In these cases, the Church provides spiritual healing from the harmful effects of war.» (Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church, 2016)

In this difficult time that we live in, and that will bring great changes to humanity as brought about by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and Covid-19, we cannot remain inactive as individuals, but also as ecclesiastical communities, or keep neutral attitude. Because neutrality means guilty and sinful concealment of injustice against the wronged.

Let me remind you that during World War II most Christian Churches out of fear did not strongly condemn Fascism and Nazism. The United States did the same. They showed dangerous neutrality and tried not to get involved in the European war. But history has taught us that neutrality never helps to bring about world peace. And today, in order to be safe, the modern world must have alliances that will protect peace and justice in the world.

That is why His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew from the very first moment unequivocally condemned the war in Ukraine, saying that “we are all called to pray fervently and wholeheartedly for the maintenance of peace in Ukraine.” As he stressed in the present adverse circumstances, “we direct our prayers to the Lord Jesus, the Lord of peace, asking Him with fervent soul, « to give power of his people”and “to bless His people in peace” (Ps. 29, 11).

And then the Ecumenical Patriarch added:

“Indeed, in the last twenty-four hours a tragic humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in Ukraine. A war which, like any war, is an abominable and condemnable state. It is the domination of irrationality over reason, hatred over love, darkness over light, death over life. We call for an ending of the war now! We ask to stop immediately any act of violence, anything that spreads pain and death. Let reason prevail, love for fellow human beings, reconciliation and solidarity, the light of the Risen Christ, the gift of life.”

Finally, the Ecumenical Patriarch called on “the leaders of all states, European institutions and international organizations to work for the peaceful settlement of this critical situation through honest dialogue, which is the only means of resolving any problem and resolving any dispute.”

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, as Christians, advocates of love and peace between peoples and cultures, as the Holy Gospel teaches us, we condemn with all our might every war, because it causes death and destruction. It is our sacred duty to fight in every way against injustice, violence and war.

Condemnation of the war in Ukraine by all Christian Churches around the world is the first real resposibility of all of us. It is apsolutely forbitten for us not to experss dynamically our opposition for a matter which is against the will of God.

These days not only politicians, but unfortunately also some Church leaders do not dare to say things in their own name, so as not to go against Russian politics. Thus, instead of “Russian attack on Ukraine” or the word “war” they use expressions such as “current events” or “difficult situations”.

But we must always remember that: “Those who do not directly declare that the violation of borders and the attack of one state against another is called an invasion, rest assured that they do not understand the meaning of other words, such as philanthropy, coexistence, man, fellow human beings. Those who do not condemn the invasion of one country lose the moral right to refer to city and culture, international law and world peace, universal brotherhood and universal cooperation…

Those who remain silent because this is what their individual interests dictate, let them not talk again about the duty of service to the homeland and the resposibility of service to the universe. Those who do not realize that history should cultivate the memory of unifying persons and connecting ideas, but instead they admire those who work with inhumanity, let them not be upset when one morning they discover that the world has been turned into Auschwitz.

Those who think that they can be waterproof spectators in the arena of self-destruction of others, let them not be surprised when they feel in their own body the pain of the wounds of humanity. Those who do not feel “responsible for everyone and everything”, who do not understand that everything is like the ocean, everything flows and communicates, e.g. you touch a point here and your move is reflected in the other end of the world”, let them not complain when the time comes for them to be overthrown by every aspiring and paranoid helmsman of history.

Those who admire themselves as spiritual people, thinkers and intellectuals, but keep silent as a fish, let them admit that they are the greatest materialists, since for the sake of false motives they refuse to speak in favor of the weak…

Those who are afraid to die out of love for freedom they will remain slaves forever. Those who are afraid to live as free people, actually they have never lived.” (Stavros S. Fotiou, Founding Member of the Cyprus Academy, Professor at the University of Cyprus)

The conclusion from what has been said is that the condemnation of the war in Ukraine on the one hand and the support in every possible way to the Ukrainian people suffering from the consequences of the war on the other, is what our Christian identity requires us to do immediately. Our Christian duty for the defense of the weak is one way. Only in this way will we be entitled to call ourselves Christians and hope that evil will not knock on our door tomorrow. Only in this way will we be entitled to be called sons of God, since “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God” (Mt. 5: 9).

“Peace be with you all in Christ Jesus.” Amen”. (1 Pet. 5:14)

Thank you very much for your attention.