World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

You are here: Home / Resources / Documents / WCC commissions and working groups / Commission of the Churches on International Affairs / Regional concerns / Europe / Expression of profound concern about the continuing intervention in Chechnya by Russian armed forces.

Expression of profound concern about the continuing intervention in Chechnya by Russian armed forces.

15 November 1999

Joint letter to His Holiness Alexei II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, 15 November 1999.

Your Holiness,

We greet you in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ 'for He Himself is our peace' (Eph. 2:14).

On behalf of the Conference of European Churches and the World Council of Churches we express our profound concern at the continued escalation of the conflict in Chechnya and the human tragedy in the North Caucasus region, and we acknowledge with gratitude the recent statement of Your Holiness on this very matter.

The CEC and WCC recognize the context of lawlessness and terrorism which has preceded the current armed intervention by the Russian armed forces. We remember the many victims of terrorist acts, kidnapping and executions in Chechnya, including a number of Christian pastors and workers. However, we raise our voices that even legitimate political or military objectives cannot justify the innocent victims and suffering of peoples in the region.

We deplore the disproportionate and irresponsible use of force employed by the Russian military forces, which is contributing to a humanitarian crisis of the utmost seriousness. We appeal to the Russian and Chechen political authorities, and to the combatants on all sides, to manifest mercy to all people, especially the civilian population, the prisoners and the wounded.

The CEC and WCC appeal to Your Holiness and to the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church to do everything in your authority to enable unimpeded and secure international humanitarian assistance to be brought to those uprooted by this conflict, and to promote a peaceful resolution of the crisis. The ecumenical organizations will continue to work closely with the Russian Orthodox Church and with other partners to provide relief to those most in need, through its emergency office ACT - Action by Churches Together.

We share with the Russian Orthodox Church the rejection of any attempts to manipulate religion for political ends, which Your Holiness has drawn attention to in previous statements. We oppose any radicalisation on religious grounds, and we encourage all efforts by Islamic and Christian leaders which actively promote peace, tolerance and a real solution to the conflict.

The CEC and WCC pray with the Russian Orthodox Church and other churches, and with all people of good will, that a political solution, which expresses the genuine will of the Chechen people, may be found, and which will lead to the restoration of the rule of law, a lasting and just peace for all the peoples of this region.

                                                                                                                          Konrad Raiser                         Keith Clements
                                                                                                                         General Secretary                    General Secretary
                                                                                                                         World Council of Churches       Conference of European Churches