“With very deep sadness and regret, we again missed the presence of representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church, due to very recent changes in the hierarchy of the Moscow Patriarchate, which had however been committed to taking part in our gathering,” reads a message from the roundtable. “Obviously, the absence of these key counterparts constituted a fundamental obstacle to the purpose for which we convened – that of dialogue and mutual consultation.”
The participants strongly reaffirmed the joint ecumenical position expressed by the participants in the first roundtable meeting, especially the rejection of war as against the will of God, and of the use of deadly military force as a means of resolving disputes – in Ukraine or elsewhere.
“We reiterate our denunciation of the unjustified and illegal military aggression launched by the leadership of the Russian Federation against the people of the sovereign state of Ukraine,” reads the message. “We call again for an immediate ceasefire and for dialogue and negotiations as the only morally acceptable path forward.”
Participants lifted up again the consequences of the war for the poor and vulnerable of the entire world, especially due to the escalating global food crisis and the accelerating trajectory towards climate catastrophe.
“Despite the absence of our dialogue partners from Russia in this meeting, we re-emphasize the critical importance of the WCC as a platform for encounter and dialogue among the churches and communities most directly impacted by this war,” reads the message. “This is the key and unique contribution that the global ecumenical movement can bring to the peaceful resolution of this crisis for which we all hope and pray.”
The roundtable emphasized that the calling to dialogue, encounter, and the pursuit of mutual understanding is the very essence of ecumenism. “Division and exclusion is the antithesis of the purpose of our movement,” the message reads.
“Nevertheless, we strongly reject the apparent instrumentalization of religious language by political and church leaders to support an armed invasion of a sovereign country. It is urgently necessary to help turn the tide of division, confrontation and conflict, and to help heal the deep wounds created in the global community by this brutal ongoing war.”
WCC convenes roundtable on Ukraine, calls for diplomacy instead of threats, dialogue instead of confrontation (WCC news release 30 March 2022)