During the recently-concluded 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Ukraine was one of the centers of every participant’s attention, and delegates from the Ukraine Orthodox Church joined the meeting in Karlsruhe, Germany. During the assembly, Bohdan Mostovyi, a representative of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church called on global Christians not to get used to the ongoing war in Ukraine in an exclusive interview with China Christian Daily.
The message he urges to tell is that Ukraine is still at war and innocent blood is being shed every day. “We should not get used to the war,” he said. “Only together we can solve this problem, only united we can have peace in Ukraine, in Europe as well as in the whole world.”
Russia declared war on Ukraine on 24 February, and in the first two months, the whole world was shocked and really into this issue. Then more and more people around the world started getting used to it. “Even though the situation on the front now is slightly better than six months ago, and some regions were liberated, innocent people are still being killed every single second... Thousands of children still have a broken childhood, and thousands of the elderly still become homeless. The situation is still extremely tough,” he added.
Until the day the interview was conducted (7 September), around 200 religious buildings in 14 regions of Ukraine were destroyed, and 70% of them belonged to the Orthodox church.
Due to the war, a large number of Ukrainians became displaced: many people crossed the border, others fled from their region to safer places, and there were also people who could not flee — elderly people, people with disabilities, etc. The lives of many Ukrainians are out of order. Many people lose their jobs and do not have any resources for income. Even worse, they are in constant danger of being killed.
Mostovyi told China Christian Daily that Christians in Ukraine are very much engaged in the war, and many soldiers in the fighting nowadays are Christians. They are protecting civilians who cannot resist because Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
Churches in Ukraine have been supporting the army and helping internally displaced persons during the war. They provide supplies for the army and pray for them. Church leaders and priests stay in the regions under occupation to help evacuate people to safer places and provide people in need with food, clothes, and medicine.
As the WCC aims to be a platform for dialogue, both delegates from the Russian Orthodox Church and Ukraine Orthodox Church attended the Assembly. Mostovyi agrees that dialogue is the best way to fight and solve problems, but "unfortunately, it does not work when one country is willing to solve problems with weapons and force. Therefore, in the current situation, people in Ukraine are forced to defend their freedom on the front line.” Being disappointed with the Russian Orthodox Church, he said, “First their leaders including the Patriarch of Moscow were silent, and then they started to support, bless and encourage the Russian army to invade Ukraine......it would be a little bit better if they had been silent, but they are not. I, as an Orthodox Christian, find it extremely painful when men of God disgrace their faith and Church”. But he still believes there are decent Christians from the Russian Orthodox Church.
Attending the 11th Assembly, he is trying to seek support for his country. The Ukrainian representative is very grateful for the people who expressed their solidarity. “People are suffering, and only together we can solve this problem... everybody should fight somehow and this fight can be done in different ways,” he added.
Specifically, he suggests the first thing people can do is to pray for peace in Ukraine and the world. The second thing is to spread information about the real things that happened in Ukraine. Mostovyi feels sad because thinking about the war, people worry about the increase in gas prices though blood is spilling there. “Nothing compares to life, human life, right?” he asked. He urges the rest of the world to help their refugees—they flee just because they want to live.
“When everyone does a little bit of their own work, it becomes a huge help. All small efforts become together a great power that moves Ukraine, Europe, and the world to peace!”, he concluded.