Litauen: Metropolitan of Lithuania on Ukraine

The head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s diocese in Lithuania issued a statement 17 March expressing his strong feelings about the fratricidal war in Ukraine. The Church in Lithuania strongly condemns the war and prays for its speedy end, writes His Eminence Metropolitan Innokenty, who has headed the Vilnius Diocese since December 2010. “As you have probably already noticed, Patriarch Kirill and I have different political views and perceptions of current events,” the Metropolitan writes.

According to the Lithuanian outlet lrt.lt, the state is currently home to about 14,000 Ukrainian refugees, and available accommodation is running low. And just as the Church in Lithuania supported state independence 30 years, it continues to stand for such independence today, and, according to Met. Innokenty, “will continue to strive for even greater Church independence, believing that the Lord will grant such independence in due time.”

Read His Eminence’s full statement:

Dear brothers and sisters!

My word is addressed to all people of goodwill, to all who want to hear us, to all Orthodox children of our Church in Lithuania.

A huge misfortune has come to the land of Ukraine: blood is shed there and innocent people suffer. An honest person and a God-fearing Christian cannot look impassively at what is happening. The voice of his conscience cries out to Heaven, his prayer is directed to God, to whom judgment belongs alone, and before Whom those who brought sorrow to the people of Ukraine, suffering to mothers, tears to relatives and friends, death and destruction, and mass exodus from their country will answer.

The Orthodox people of Lithuania accepted the tragedy of the people of Ukraine with pain in their hearts. From the very beginning of hostilities, in all Orthodox churches, prayer was intensified for a speedy end to the war, for the restoration of peace in the land of Ukraine.

The position of the Orthodox Church in Lithuania is unchanged—we strongly condemn Russia’s war against Ukraine and pray to God for its speedy end. As you have probably already noticed, Patriarch Kirill and I have different political views and perceptions of current events. His political statements about the war in Ukraine are his personal opinion. We in Lithuania do not agree with this.

I would like to openly say here that we, Orthodox in Lithuania, having today the opportunity to independently resolve our internal Church affairs, will continue to strive for even greater Church independence, believing that the Lord will grant such in due time.

We live in a free, democratic country. Lithuania is not Russia. This is a different state, a different society with its own spiritual and moral climate. The Orthodox of Lithuania make up a small part—there are hardly more than three thousand active parishioners throughout Lithuania—but an integral part of this society, and they are full-fledged citizens of their country, freely professing the traditional religion. Our parishioners are honest and modest people who have conscientiously worked for many years for the benefit of the country of Lithuania and have contributed to the cause of building a free Lithuania.

Let us remember that more than 30 years ago, Orthodox believers, led by Metropolitan Chrysostom, who is now retired, without hesitation, resolutely came out on the side of the Lithuanian people, for the independence of their state. The position of the Orthodox Church has remained absolutely unchanged. It can not be in any other way.

I wonder if those who write and talk about us know everything about the Orthodox? Have they attended services in Orthodox churches in Lithuania, have they heard how and what Orthodox people pray about? After all, at every Divine service, the Orthodox pray for the God-protected country of our Lithuanians, its authorities, the army, and all its people. And today—for the end of this bloody war, for the fallen soldiers, for the reign of peace in Ukraine, for the suffering people of the Ukrainian land—we pray and suffer together with them!

Whatever happens around us, we Orthodox will continue to pray for the country of Lithuania and its people, calling upon the help of our Heavenly Patroness—the Most Holy Virgin Mary, all the saints of the land of Lithuania, and we will be faithful to our country and its people. We will preserve the unity of people, regardless of their national and confessional affiliation; we will sincerely pray for the long-suffering people of Ukraine and help the refugees who have found shelter in the Lithuanian land. We will keep the spirit of peace and love in our hearts!

The great St. John Chrysostom said: “Glory to God for all things!” And we say today: Glory and thanksgiving to God for sending us, Orthodox, such a trial. Glory and thanksgiving to God for the fact that we endure reproach. For everything we thank the Lord God, sincerely trusting in His mercy and forgiveness. (Quelle: www.orthochristian.com, 18. März 2022)

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