Photo Credit: Konstantin Brizhnichenko
The Anglican Bishop in Europe, Robert Innes, has condemned the “completely unjustified and aggressive war” in Ukraine, following the invasion by Russia last week, and has urged Christians to unite in prayers for peace. “Our hearts cry out for justice and peace” he said in a statement.
Describing the situation as “very deeply troubling”, Bishop Robert said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade had been condemned by Christian leaders including the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and that many Russians also “deeply deplore” the move.
The Russian military began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Thursday 24 February, after months of threats and build up. Hundreds of Ukrainians have died and more than half a million people have fled the country. Civilians are taking up arms to join the fight against Russian forces, as fears rise that conflict could destabilise the balance of power in Europe.
In a separate statement, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Justin Welby and Stephen Cottrell, have called the “horrific and unprovoked attack” by Russia “an act of great evil”.
One thing we can do is pray
Bishop Robert said the Anglican Communion was particularly concerned for the victims of war, including the members of Christ Church, the Anglican church in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.
“The Churchwarden there, Christina, messaged us this morning saying: ‘please pray for us as we are standing here for our land and for our roots. The battle for Kyiv has begun; it is fierce and intensive. Pray for us’”, he said.
The Bishop is inviting people to join an online prayer service to be held on YouTube on Tuesday 1 March at 6pm GMT. He will be joined by representatives from Christ Church Kyiv, and by Canon Malcom Rogers, the chaplain of St Andrew’s Moscow and area dean of Russia and Ukraine.
“In the face of military action, we can easily feel powerless and fearful. But one thing we can do is pray. We can pray in solidarity with those most affected,” Bishop Robert said. “We can pray that God will yet overrule in the hearts and minds of those with power and authority. We can pray that the victims will be few and that the innocent will be protected. We can pray that peace will come through justice and not through the infliction of the will of a stronger party on a weaker.”
Additionally, Canon Rogers in Moscow has issued a plea for prayers for the people of Ukraine, for Ukrainians in Russia, for those who have fled their homes and “for a miracle to happen, and for the tanks to turn round”.
Untold pain and devastation
On Sunday, Anglican churches in the UK and elsewhere joined in prayers for peace. Many cathedrals were lit up in the colours of the Ukrainian flag in a sign of solidarity.
Bishops across the Anglican Communion have been sharing their shock at the war, and urging people to join them in prayer.
Archbishop Linda Nicholls, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said that “any war brings untold pain and devastation to all involved. This one will do the same” and called for prayers to bring “a swift end to this unprovoked invasion”.
In Ireland, Bishop David McClay urged prayer for “an end to this invasion and in these days for peace in our world”. He highlighted local charities collecting aid for refugees from the conflict.