03/08/2022, 10.09
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Christians and intellectuals struggle for the salvation of the Russian soul

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Many Orthodox teachers, priests and artists are reacting to Patriarch Kirill's homily on war and the "moral invasions" of the West. These appeals were immediately censored and sanctioned in Russia, but spread by faithful of the Moscow Patriarchate living abroad. "The body of Christ that is the Church is being torn apart by the weapons of Russian soldiers". And they remember when Solzhenitsyn wrote: "I would not allow my children to take part in a conflict with the Ukrainians".



Moscow (AsiaNews) - The "apocalyptic" homily of Moscow Patriarch Kirill (Gundjaev) on Orthodox Forgiveness Sunday, in which he lashed out against the "moral invasions" of the West as in the medieval days of the dream of "Moscow-Third Rome", has left a deep wound. Many Church and cultural figures, lay people and priests at home and abroad are reacting to these words, as well as to the speeches of President Vladimir Putin.

The appeals have been made and signed by hundreds of people and representatives of the clergy in Russia, where they are immediately censored and sanctioned. The "Russian world" abroad then gathered, emigrants, Orthodox, professors and Slavists. An authoritative group of Orthodox believers invited to sign a document at myzamir2022@gmail.com ("noiperlapace"), starting with exponents of Russian Orthodoxy from various countries, France, Germany, even from Russia itself, but especially from Estonia, one of the countries that most fears and risks being next on Putin's list in his "military operations" to defend Moscow's interests.

They are professors, priests and priests' wives, simple parishioners, artists and workers in various sectors, who appeal to Patriarch Kirill because "we are under his canonical responsibility", and beg him to use it also towards the leadership of Russia to "immediately stop the bloodbath... you as Primate elected by the local Council of Bishops, have been delegated by the Church to tasks of this kind".

The authors of the appeal expect Kirill to write "words of consolation for the Ukrainian people", who are brothers and sisters in the faith, because "the Body of Christ that is the Church is lacerated by the weapons of Russian soldiers", and that the patriarch will write "an epistle to the entire Russian Orthodox Church", to explain the reasons for peace also "to that part of the faithful and priests who unfortunately support the war... praying for the victory of the Russian armies is immoral".

About fifty Russian Slavists, historians and philologists at home and abroad are also calling on the government and the civil and moral authorities of the country to stop the war, because "the tragic consequences of armed conflicts are well known. Even after the cessation of military action, countries and peoples involved in such conflicts bleed wounds that do not heal for a long time in the common conscience and in the historical memory... they feed the formation of negative stereotypes that complicate neighbourly relations for decades".

The intellectuals fear that the war will lead to tragic consequences for the Ukrainian people, which are already evident now, and lead Russia "to international isolation, economic and political catastrophe", turning history back decades. And above all, "The war will and already does cause irreparable damage to Russia's scientific and cultural relations with the Slavic countries, erases the memory of our country as the liberator of the Slavs from Ottoman power and Nazi dictatorship. The war led to the definitive exclusion of the Russian language from the Ukrainian cultural space. The Russian language, the language of great Russian culture, the language of Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and Chekhov, by becoming the language of the policy of aggression, is ruinously losing its prestige in the world'.

They are joined in a heartfelt message by the greatest of European Slavists, Frenchman Georges Nivat, whom the Russians themselves have long considered a true messenger of the Russian culture and soul. He recalls the words of Aleksandr Solženitsyn, of whom he was a friend and collaborator, 'who had a Ukrainian grandfather who spoke Russian badly'. In 1981, Ukrainians in Toronto, Canada, where he lived in exile, asked him if he thought a conflict between Russians and Ukrainians was possible in the future. The great writer replied that 'in my heart there is no place for this conflict, may God preserve us from it! We have never come to this extreme limit, and I would not take part in it for any reason, I would not allow my children to take part in it, no matter how much effort the demented heads might make to convince us'.

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