The World Council of Churches is increasingly criticising the attitude of the Russian Orthodox Church towards the war in Ukraine. Meanwhile, a Czech pastor calls for the exclusion of the Russian church from the World Council.
The Czech pastor Pavel Cerny, former chairman of the Council of Churches in the Czech Republic, argues for the Russian church’s exclusion from the World Council. This was reported by the Christian Czech news site on Tuesday.
According to Cerny, a temporary exclusion could be “beneficial” for the Russian Orthodox Church, helping it to “wake up from its false dream” and end “its permanent complicity in the greatest military and humanitarian catastrophe in Europe since the Second World War.”
Last week, the World Council appealed to Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, through a letter from the General Secretary of the Council, Dr Ioan Sauca. In it, Sauca – himself an Orthodox priest – called on the patriarch to “raise his voice so that the war can be stopped.” Sauca pointed out that he co-wrote on behalf of “suffering brothers and sisters, most of whom are also staunch members of our Orthodox Church.”
Kirill kept a low profile for some time but spoke out more clearly on Sunday about the Russian invasion, siding with Putin. The Orthodox Church in Russia has been a loyal ally of the president for many years. Kirill defined the war as a spiritual struggle in his sermon on Sunday. Important traditional values would be at stake, which are threatened by the West. As an example, Kirill mentioned the permitting of gay prides by western governments.
The patriarch’s sermon aroused strong criticism, including from the Russian church itself. More than 280 Russian Orthodox priests have called for an end to the invasion. On Sunday, a priest was also arrested after he spoke against the war in his sermon.
The ties of the Russian Orthodox Church with the World Council of Churches were not warm, by the way. Kirill has repeatedly criticised the World Council in the past, partly because of the admission of women to office and the liberal view on homosexuality.