The conflict in Ukraine took centre stage during the second thematic plenary session of the 11th WCC Assembly on 2 September 2022, which focused on issues in Europe. In addressing church leaders and interfaith representatives, Dr Jørgen Skov Sørensen, General Secretary of the Conference of European Churches, asked that they view this gathering as a concrete response to the war-inflicted suffering witnessed in Europe today.
Delegates heard from several representatives about the current situation in Ukraine and what the people of Ukraine are facing in this protracted war. H.E. Archbishop Yevstratiy of Chernihiv and Nizhiyn, Deputy Head of the External Church Relations Department of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, and Professor at the Kiev Theological Academy spoke about how Russia had tried to erase the uniqueness of the Ukrainian people for over three centuries, with their Church annexed and used as an instrument of Imperial policy.
Dr Sørensen affirmed that Christ is on the side of those suffering, and exhorted all who were present to offer Christ’s message of hope, kindness, compassion and genuine help for those in need, and to consider the question, “Who is the good Samaritan today?”
With the biblical anchor text today on the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), faith leaders from different traditions and institutions were implored to demonstrate solidarity and be united in sharing Christ’s love for all of God’s people. They were also reminded of their moral obligation to not be used by politicians in establishments, and instead, “be the conscience of politicians”, emphasizing the need for reconciliation, unity and peace-building.
With the Season of Creation launched yesterday (1 September), the ecological crisis was also the subject of discourse over the past two days, and environmental activists demonstrated peacefully at the Assembly venue entrance today. The ecological degradation and the climate emergency demands our faith response, working towards a new climate theology in partnership with the indigenous communities.
Top image’s caption: H.E. Archbishop Yevstratiy of Chernihiv and Nizhiyn (Ukraine) speaks during a thematic plenary focused on Europe. Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC