Horlivka, December 12, 2014
Archbishop Mitrofan of Horlivka and Sloviansk, who did not leave his diocese even during the most tragic months of 2014, was asked by a reporter for the Pravoslavnaya Zhizn (Orthodox Life) website: “What should be the Church’s mission during times of civil strife? Nothing other than fostering reconciliation? Is it ethical to give material support to one of the parties (for example, the Supreme Court of the Ukraine)?”
His Eminence answered, “Sooner or later, any war ends. And, however it may be, whatever may happen, we must realize that we will have to continue living on the same territory. Whether we will live either in the same country or as a neighboring country does not depend on the Church, because it was not the Church that started this war. But the Church can do something to make it so that hatred may not increase and animosity may not get stronger; so that people, after all, would regard each other as human beings, and not as animals to be killed. And this is another task of the Church: to witness that we are all human beings, not to sow enmity, not to promote revenge; to seek for the things that can unite us and not turn the knife in the wounds. This is the mission of the Church: to testify about God before people.”
“As for material support, it seems today that there are enough public organizations supporting armed forces. In my opinion, the Church should not be involved here. This is not because there are no spiritual children there who need support—that is not the point. The fact of the matter is that there is much prevarication in this war. There are many things in this war that, should the Church touch them, It will have to bear this burden. It is not the Church’s business to equip an army with arms,” noted the hierarch. “The Church can give aid and support to the wounded in hospitals and in the medical tents of the army, help the destitute and the needy with food and medicine. The Church can and should give spiritual guidance to the people who take up arms, to prevent them from using them wantonly, and that they might remember that they are Christians and have a conscience. That is all that the Church can do.
“I cannot fully understand it when the clergy or some hierarchs purchase bullet-proof vests, helmets, various weapons or automobiles and send them to the combat zone. I believe the Church should keep away from everything related to the war. If today the parishes situated in the so-called “anti-terrorist operation zone” start buying helmets and bullet-proof vests for the people’s volunteer corps, then the Church will be accused of supporting ‘terrorism’. Immediately. Nobody will hesitate for a moment. But we have two belligerents; our spiritual children are in both parties, there are Christians both here and there—members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. And if we purchase bullet-proof vests for this one, then we have to buy them for the other as well.”