The following letter was sent out by the Orthodox Christian Studies Center at Fordham University. We reprint it here to urge Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s readers around the world to sign it. Click the three links to add your name, read the Declaration, and check daily on the updated list of signatures.
The Volos Academy in Greece co-sponsored this project with OCSC.
In the wake of Vladimir Putin’s unconscionable and horrendously destructive invasion of Ukraine, Orthodox Christians across the globe must face a difficult question: how can a nation whose majority embraces Orthodox Christianity possibly justify attacking and killing the people of a sibling nation, who almost all share the same faith?
How, at the beginning of Great Lent, when our tradition calls us to forgiveness, fasting, and prayer, can Orthodox Christians unleash violence and bloodshed against their brothers and sisters in Christ?
The painful truth, but one that we need to confront in this time of repentance, is that our own leadership, and specifically, the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church, has developed and promoted a false teaching known as “Russkii Mir” or “Russian World,” providing Mr. Putin with the religious “blank cheque” that underwrites his heinous invasion and annexation of Russia’s peaceful, democratic neighbors: Ukraine.
During this sacred season, Orthodox Christians throughout the world need to declare in no uncertain terms that the “Russian World” ideology is both false and destructive, feeding violence and bloodshed, causing scandal and division in the Church. Nor can we fool ourselves that this ideology is an exception in the history of Orthodoxy: we must condemn all Orthodox ethno-phyletist ideologies akin to the false teaching of the “Russian world” in every age, nation and culture.
Orthodox scholars and theologians have drafted a powerful Declaration (attached) concerning the theologically condemnable “Russian World” ideology. We urge you to read this Declaration, sign it, and share it with those around you.
We urge you to pray for repentance for those who propagate this evil teaching, which continues to feed the megalomaniacal ambitions of Vladimir Putin. Pray also for the repentance of every Orthodox Christian, for our own complicity in this evil through silence, obfuscation, and denial.
Only if we confront this evil, which thrives both within and outside us, bowing low in repentance with the simple words of the Canon of St. Andrew of Crete—“Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me!”—can we truly reaffirm our divided, bloodied community as the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, united only by our broken and contrite hearts in the person of Jesus Christ, who alone is with us in adversity.
If you wish to sign and support this Declaration, please follow the link https://forms.gle/uCBo8YVhTupjafoA6 and add your name.
The Coordinators on Behalf of the Drafting Committee
Revd. Dr. Brandon Gallaher
Dr. Pantelis Kalaitzidis
The list of signatures is automatically updated here: https://bit.ly/3MOq0Le
At least once daily, signatures will be updated in the webpage of the Declaration too.