Dear Brothers and Sisters!
We, the hierarchs of the Russian Church Abroad in Europe, published a statement on February 22. On that day, we were not yet as struck as we are now by the march of the Russian army through Ukraine. I myself grew up in the final years of the Second World War, and many of you have witnessed other wars, and so we feel how much this affects us personally – each of us, because we are all bound together by the single font of Kievan Rusʹ, and we should greatly fear that Orthodox Slavs are now shooting at Orthodox Slavs.
This notion is frightening. And we, in our weakness, are called to use the most successful, most important weapon against all that is happening. This is prayer. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, these days we are obliged to strengthen our prayer in church, at home, trusting in God as the only intercessor, as the only defender, as the only giver of peace. We cannot approve of any military interventions. Man has a tongue so as to be able to communicate with God, but also with man. And so peace talks are the only way for an Orthodox Christian to go.
This is why we call on all of you to intensify your prayers, while we here in Germany now also face a phenomenon that is new for us: refugees from Ukraine, and we are called to help wherever we can. Yesterday we, the acting bishops of the Russian Church in Germany – Vladyka Tikhon, Vladyka Iov, and I – published an appeal for all our faithful people to get involved in helping both refugees and those who remain in Ukraine in terrible conditions. We have no particular experience with housing refugees or with any other kind of assistance. But we encourage everyone to help settle these people, mostly Orthodox Christians, who have come and are coming to us. First of all, we can, in some form or measure, contribute to making them feel at peace here, we can contribute to this assistance by having bilingual faithful help these people who have lost their homes, some of their relatives – help them by translating in interactions with the authorities and doctors, help in the hospitals where they will be treated, help wherever they will be accommodated, and in all other areas where our help is needed. Some parishes have already collected food for them, both for those who have come and are coming here and for those who are staying there. We will also be collecting funds next Sunday, Forgiveness Sunday, when we all especially repent of our sins and ask the Lord for forgiveness. This Sunday all the basket collections in our churches will be for war victims or those in need, and we will pass on the funds raised not to some large organizations, but to our parishes and dioceses in Ukraine. It is important that we all participate in these events, as much as we can. Yet I ask you to make an effort, I ask you to make an effort both in prayer and in helping our brothers and sisters and to give the maximum that we can do for them.
Invoking God’s blessing upon all of you, I ask forgiveness from all of you before Lent for all my sins and shortcomings and omissions, and I ask you to do the same among yourselves so that all our sins may be washed away, especially in these days. May the blessing of God be upon on you all.
You may support the German Diocese’s work with refugees through
Russische orthodoxe Kirchenstiftung HypoVereinsbank Bonn
IBAN: DE20 3802 0090 0003 4461 31; BIC: HYVEDEMM402
Verwendungszweck: Flüchtlingshilfe www.rok-stiftung.de