ASIA/SYRIA - Orthodox Church of Antioch: the war in Ukraine tears apart peoples "born from the same baptismal font"

Thursday, 3 March 2022 middle east   oriental churches   orthodoxy   wars   geopolitics   baptism

Damascus (Agenzia Fides) - For the end of the "painful events" in Ukraine, the Bishops of the Greek Orthodox Church want to look at the "spiritual ties between the Russian and Ukrainian peoples, born from the same baptismal font", and ask that the fraternity given by common baptism show its effectiveness and make it possible "to overcome conflict, to achieve reconciliation and to strengthen peace". Yesterday, Wednesday, March 2, Bishops of the Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, presided over by Patriarch Yohanna X, gathered in Damascus for an extraordinary session to discuss spiritual solutions to the tragic events that are taking place among the nations and peoples historically marked by a common bond with Orthodox Christianity. In the communiqué issued at the end of their emergency meeting, the bishops of the Greek Orthodox Church said they followed the painful events in Ukraine "with deep concern and great sadness" and prayed "for peace in Ukraine and in the whole world and for Almighty God to inspire decision makers to prioritize the logic of peace and embrace the language of dialogue to spare all from further destruction and human loss". In particular, the bishops of the Damascus Patriarchate expressed their solidarity with the pastors of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, headed by Metropolitan Onofry, which is still canonically subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate. The message of the Synod of the Antioch Orthodox Church does not mention the autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church, born in Ukraine in 2019.
The Russian invasion of the Ukrainian nation is aggravating and widening the tears that in recent years had already wounded relations between the Churches of Orthodoxy, having as its epicenter the contrasts between the Patriarchate of Moscow and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople regarding the canonical status of the Orthodox Christian communities in Ukraine. In this regard, the Bishops of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, at their meeting, reiterated the need to always observe the "principle of consensus", which obliges the canonically recognized Orthodox Churches to approach and resolve contentious issues in a consensual manner, with provisions and amendments only implemented if so when all the individual Orthodox Churches agree in substance in order to ensure their unity and not endanger their full communion. With a view to the situation in Syria, where Bashar al Assad's presidency survived the years of war thanks to Russian military support, the Bishops of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch reiterated the urgency of a "political solution" to the chaos and the ongoing wars in the country. Sanctions that are starving the weakest sections of the population should be ended and dismemberment of Syria's territorial integrity must be prevented. Therefore, the bishops conclude that the desired "political solution" must take into account the "aspirations of the Syrian people" in order to promote national reconciliation and to maintain "the unity of the Syrian state". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 3/3/2022)