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On 24. February 2023 one year has passed since Russia started its large-scale invasion of Ukraine. President Putin’s regime is inflicting great and incomprehensible suffering on the Ukrainian people. We, bishops of the Church of Norway, will not be silenced while the war is ongoing. We cannot accept that the war is supported by the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church. It is a war of aggression that violates international law, is ethically illegitimate and contravenes fundamental values of our Christian faith.
Targeted Russian attacks daily terrorise an entire population, disregarding people’s life and dignity. The war kills thousands and leaves millions fleeing their homes. Families are divided, and children are affected for the rest of their lives. Russia’s acts of war and menaces to use nuclear weapons threaten the global security situation. The war has great repercussions worldwide, such as food scarcity, energy crisis, rising costs of living, and insecurity. It affects the poorest first and most severely.
When a nation is attacked in this way, it has the right to defend itself. We support that Norway, with its growing financial resources, gives binding and comprehensive promises of support for years to come. This must be additional to increased support to people in poverty and need in other parts of the world, who are also affected by this war.
The tragedy of war demands something from all of us. Together with other countries in Europe, Norway must continue to receive refugees and include them in our local communities. Our common resources must be used both to receive refugees and for humanitarian support in Ukraine and its neighbouring countries.
We know that not all Russians support the war. We express our support to those who stand up for peace and justice, for protection of human dignity and human rights in an increasingly authoritarian state. This includes Russian Orthodox Christians who are speaking up against the war in Ukraine.
We look with horror upon the fact that the church is being used to motivate and justify the occupation and war against civilians. The leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church is actively contributing to legitimize the war and the propaganda of the regime. We strongly reject this misuse of Christian faith and tradition. It makes the leadership of the church complicit in the war.
The Bishops’ Conference of the Church of Norway urges the leadership of the Russian Orthodox church with its central position, to contribute to end the war.
We will continue to pray for all the victims of war and for a just peace.
Bishops’ Conference of the Church of Norway
16. February 2023