Meeting against the background of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC), held in Karlsruhe, Germany, in September 2022, recognized that “WCC has a critical role to play in accompanying its member churches in the region and as a platform and safe space for encounter and dialogue in order to address the many pressing issues for the world and for the ecumenical movement arising from this conflict.” The Assembly encouraged the WCC to continue its efforts to promote dialogue through “round tables and other formats which can contribute to finding solutions to the conflict and its repercussions.” The WCC leadership subsequently undertook visits to the churches in Ukraine and to the Russian Orthodox Church with a view to securing participation in a dialogue process.

It is therefore with very deep regret that WCC has been obliged to postpone a planned initial roundtable dialogue meeting. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts over the intervening months, practical and political obstacles to the participation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) and the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) as core participants in any such dialogue process render our plans impracticable for the time being.

We continue to believe that the engagement of both the UOC and the OCU is an essential foundation for the dialogue process we envisage, for promoting social cohesion among the people of Ukraine on their journey as a free and independent nation, and for the broader search for peace in a deeply divided and contentious world.

We pray that God will lead us forward on the path to peace, and that circumstances and perspectives will change so that dialogue becomes possible. The WCC stands always ready to convene and facilitate any such dialogue, to explore other possible formats, and to work with and through its member churches for peace in Ukraine, for a fuller realization of ‘the things that make for peace’, and against the unconscionable violence of war.

Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay

General Secretary

World Council of Churches