02/26/2022, 08.01
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Mideast patriarchs see the war between Moscow and Kyiv as a defeat for everyone

by Dario Salvi

The Latin primate of Jerusalem expresses “bitterness and disappointment” as well as “concern” given Russia’s “important role” in the Middle East. Card Sako mentions Shia leader al-Sadr who is surprised by “conflict between Christian countries”. For the Armenian patriarch, ordinary people will feel the consequences.

Florence (AsiaNews) – The winds of war coming from Ukraine, besieged by Russian forces after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared war, are source of “great bitterness and deep disappointment” for Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.

Speaking to AsiaNews, he notes that the escalation that led to the conflict "is a defeat for all those who believe in the possibility of overcoming differences in a different way,”

The prelate cannot hide his concerns since Moscow “plays a very important role in the Mediterranean and the Middle East”, and this “show of force could have repercussions on our region.”

Currently in Italy for the “Mediterranean frontier of peace” meeting in Florence from 23 to 27 February, the patriarch is concerned about the divisions between the Churches of Russia and Ukraine and their possible repercussions.

Such confrontations “will have consequences since conflicts between Churches accompany political divisions and have been exploited for [certain] political visions.”

“Unfortunately, we must acknowledge this.” But “hopefully, the split “within the Orthodox world will not widen” for this would be a “problem of all Christian communities”.

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem mentioned that a day of prayer and fasting is set for 2 March, which coincides “with the start of Lent”.

“This is a very important day for us”. It will be “a very intense event” and will include a special intention “for reconciliation between the Churches” and for “the end of conflicts”, starting with the one in Ukraine.

In Baghdad Chaldean Patriarch Card Louis Raphael Sako expressed "solidarity" with the people involved. “We too have suffered in recent years from war,” he told AsiaNews.

The prelate added that, “I am struck by the message released by Moqtada al-Sadr[*], who wonders “why two Christian countries are waging war with each other.”

For the patriarch, people should not pursue self-interest. “Wars are just not the solution; on the contrary, a solution and a way to engage in dialogue and reduce tensions must be sought.”

The patriarch cannot hide his fear for the war’s “repercussions” on the whole Middle East, concerned that the escalation between Moscow and Kyiv could lead to “a third world war.”

“We all hope not,” he said, but, “Christians too must personally act;” for this reason, he expects broad participation in Iraq on 2 March to the day of prayer, which falls on the first day of Lent.

For his part, Armenian Catholic Patriarch Raphaël Bedros XXI Minassian looks with “concern and attention" to the peoples of Russia and Ukraine, worried that it is ordinary people, civilians, who “are paying the highest price” for this situation.

For the patriarch, external forces are using Ukraine “to sow confusion”; in his view, the heart of the dispute is not Kyiv "but everything that revolves around it".

The same can be said about “Lebanon in the Middle East”, which was the battleground for “the conflict of other countries, but whose population paid the price for the violence.”

[*] Shia cleric whose party one recent parliamentary election in Iraq.

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