Interfaith leaders ask Patriarch Kirill to appeal to Putin, stop violence

Around 41% of the Russian population affiliates with the Russian Orthodox Church.

Russian President Putin and Patriarch Kirill applaud during the inaugural ceremony of Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin at the Zaryadye Concert Hall in Moscow (photo credit: REUTERS)
Russian President Putin and Patriarch Kirill applaud during the inaugural ceremony of Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin at the Zaryadye Concert Hall in Moscow
(photo credit: REUTERS)

More than 150 faith leaders worldwide signed a letter to Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church calling on him to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin and convince him to de-escalate the conflict.

“We, religious leaders representing many faith traditions, write to express our concern with the war taking place in Ukraine,” the letter, which was translated into Russian reads. “We are mindful of our religious obligation to choose peace through dialogue. Our role is to pray for and support peaceful resolutions of conflict situations.”

They said that the conflict also “poses a much wider risk of destruction beyond Ukraine, including the very real threat of a nuclear accident and a larger conflict between nuclear armed powers, which we know God wants us to avoid at all costs. At this moment, religious leaders are called to rise to the occasion on behalf of God, people, and all creatures.”

Read the full text.

The letter was sent to Kirill and Metropolitan Hilarion on March 6. 

Signatories include His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Swami Rameshwarananda Giri, Venerable Dharmakosajarn and Rabbi David Rosen. It was spearheaded by the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, the Elijah Interfaith Institute and the Swedish Theological Institute in Jerusalem.

Pope Francis, left, reaches to embrace Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill after signing a joint declaration at the Jose Marti International airport in Havana, Cuba, Friday, February 12, 2016. (Credit: GREGORIO BORGIA/POOL/REUTERS)Pope Francis, left, reaches to embrace Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill after signing a joint declaration at the Jose Marti International airport in Havana, Cuba, Friday, February 12, 2016. (Credit: GREGORIO BORGIA/POOL/REUTERS)
The leaders appealed to Kirill due to his influence on Putin as head of the Russian Orthodox church. According to the Interfaith Center, around 41% of the Russian population affiliates with the Russian Orthodox Church. Another 40% of the Russian population affiliates with a different sect or minimally believes in the Christian faith.