Category Archives: Nationalism



Nation and Nationalism

Disregard for the World

As long as this body remains common with the rest, its corporal condition must also be common, and it is not granted the members of the human race to be separated from one another, unless there is withdrawal from this life. Meanwhile, we, good and evil, are contained within our house. Whatever comes within the house we endure with equal fate, until, when our temporal earthly period has been fulfilled, we are distributed among the homes of eternal death or immortality. So then we are not comparable and equal with you, because, while we are still in this world and in this flesh, we incur equally with you the annoyances of the world and of the flesh. For since all that punishes is in the sense of pain, it is manifest that he is not a participant in your punishment whom you see does not suffer pain with you.

— To Demetrian[1], by St. Cyprian of Carthage, Chapter 19

If, as the Apostle Paul says (1 Cor 7.31), heaven, earth and anything else in the universe passes away, how can we praise the fertility of the earth and water? Although you may consider the place where you live or one similar to be surpassing, the [divine] word regards them as nothing.

— The First Homily Concerning the Forty Martyrs[2] (part one), by St. Gregory of Nyssa

It is a very serious consideration, that now at this time any are forbidden to leave the world; a time when the end of the world is drawing nigh.

— Epistles3, St. Gregory the Great, Book 3, Epistle 65

The Value of Earthly Homelands

It is not virtue, therefore, either to be the enemy of the bad or the defender of the good, because virtue cannot be subject to uncertain chances.

Moreover, to reckon the interests of our country as in the first place.

What are the interests of our country, but the inconveniences of another state or nation? — that is, to extend the boundaries which are violently taken from others, to increase the power of the state, to improve the revenues, — all which things are not virtues, but the overthrowing of virtues: for, in the first place, the union of human society is taken away, innocence is taken away, the abstaining from the property of another is taken away; lastly, justice itself is taken away, which is unable to bear the tearing asunder of the human race, and wherever arms have glittered, must be banished and exterminated from thence.

How can a man be just who injures, who hates, who despoils, who puts to death? And they who strive to be serviceable to their country do all these things: for they are ignorant of what this being serviceable is, who think nothing useful, nothing advantageous, but that which can be held by the hand; and this alone cannot be held, because it may be snatched away.

The Divine Institutes, by Lactantius4, Book 6, Chapter 6

You have exchanged the notion of the motherland for a vacuous internationalism although you know very well that when it comes to defending the motherland, the proletarians of all nations will be its faithful sons, not its traitors.

— Letter to the Council of People’s Commissars, 13/26 October 1918, by St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow

The Identity of the Christian Empire

And they (the Jewish teachers) said once more: “if we accept that He (the anointed One) has already come, as you claim on the basis of the prophets and other arguments, then how is it that the Roman Empire is still in power?” The Philosopher answered: “It is no longer in power, for it has passed, like all empires at its likeness, for our Empire is not of Rome, but of Christ.”

— The Life of Sts. Cyrillus and Methodius5, Chapter 10

The New People

I exhort you to have but one faith, and one preaching, and one Eucharist. For there is one flesh of the Lord Jesus Christ; and His blood which was shed for us is one; one loaf also is broken to all [the communicants], and one cup is distributed among them all: there is but one altar for the whole Church, and one bishop, with the presbytery and deacons, my fellow-servants. Since, also, there is but one unbegotten Being, God, even the Father; and one only-begotten Son, God, the Word and man; and one Comforter, the Spirit of truth; and also one preaching, and one faith, and one baptism; and one Church which the holy apostles established from one end of the earth to the other by the blood of Christ, and by their own sweat and toil; it behooves you also, therefore, as “a peculiar people, and a holy nation,” to perform all things with harmony in Christ.

— The Epistle of St. Ignatius of Antioch to the Philadelphians6, Chapter 4

The Roman emperors worshipped idols, but all the present — coming from this or that people or tribe — rule in the name of Christ.

— The Life of Sts. Cyrillus and Methodius, Chapter 10

Racism and Xenophobia

This saying of Cicero is true: “But they who say that regard is to be had to citizens, but that it is not to be had to foreigners, these destroy the common society of the human race.”

— The Divine Institutes, by Lactantius, Book 6, Chapter 6

The whole of Russia has become a battlefield! And that is not all. Things are even more terrible. We receive rumours about pogroms against Jews, the beating of a race without concern for age, guilt, sex or convictions. Angered by the circumstances of life, man searches scapegoats for his mishap, and in order to throw upon them his offences, pain and suffering hits out so hard, that under the strikes of his hand, blinded by the thirst of vengeance, many innocent victims fall.

— Pastoral Letter to the Faithful of the Orthodox Church of Russia, 8/21 July 19197, by St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow

The True Homeland of the Christians

I see, most excellent Diognetus, that thou art anxious to understand the religion of the Christians, and that thy enquiries respecting them are distinctly and carefully made, as to what God they trust and how they worship Him, that they all disregard the world and despise death, and as to the nature of the affection which they entertain one to another.

For Christians are not distinguished from the rest of mankind either in locality or in speech or in customs. For they dwell not somewhere in cities of their own, neither do they use some different language, nor practice an extraordinary kind of life. Nor again do they possess any invention discovered by any intelligence or study of ingenious men, nor are they masters of any human dogma as some are. But while they dwell in cities of Greeks and barbarians as the lot of each is cast, and follow the native customs in dress and food and the other arrangements of life, yet the constitution of their own citizenship, which they set forth, is marvellous, and confessedly contradicts expectation. They dwell in their own countries, but only as sojourners; they bear their share in all things as citizens, and they endure all hardships as strangers. Every foreign country is a fatherland to them, and every fatherland is foreign. Their existence is on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven.

In a word, what the soul is in a body, this the Christians are in the world. The soul is spread through all the members of the body, and Christians through the divers cities of the world. The soul hath its abode in the body, and yet it is not of the body. So Christians have their abode in the world, and yet they are not of the world. The soul which is invisible is guarded in the body which is visible: so Christians are recognised as being in the world, and yet their religion remaineth invisible. The flesh hateth the soul and wageth war with it, though it receiveth no wrong, because it is forbidden to indulge in pleasures; so the world hateth Christians, though it receiveth no wrong from them, because they set themselves against its pleasures. The soul loveth the flesh which hateth it, and the members: so Christians love those that hate them. The soul is enclosed in the body, and yet itself holdeth the body together; so Christians are kept in the world as in a prison-house, and yet they themselves hold the world together. The soul though itself immortal dwelleth in a mortal tabernacle; so Christians sojourn amidst perishable things, while they look for the imperishability which is in the heavens. The soul when hardly treated in the matter of meats and drinks is improved; and so Christians when punished increase more and more daily. So great is the office for which God hath appointed them, and which it is not lawful for them to decline.

— The Epistle to Diognetus 8, Chapters 1, 5 and 6 [information regarding authorship is in the endnote]

The citizens of the heavenly city honour their (the martyrs’) success which brings joy to the entire assembly of heaven.

— Second Homily concerning the Forty Martyrs, by St. Gregory of Nyssa


Interior Peace

For what advantage is it, that the world enjoys profound peace, if thou art at war with thyself? This then is the peace we should keep. If we have it, nothing from without will be able to harm us. And to this end the public peace contributes no little: whence it is said, “That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life.” But if any one is disturbed when there is quiet, he is a miserable creature. Seest thou that He speaks of this peace which I call the third (inner, ed.) kind? Therefore when he has said, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life,” he does not stop there, but adds “in all godliness and honesty.” But we cannot live in godliness and honesty, unless that peace be established. For when curious reasonings disturb our faith, what peace is there? or when spirits of uncleanness, what peace is there?

— Homily 7 on 1 Tim 2:2-4, by St. John Chrysostom

Christ Brings Peace

Abel, peaceable and just, while he was sacrificing to God innocently, taught others also, when they offer a gift at the altar, to come with fear of God, with simple heart, with the law of justice, with the peace of concord. Worthily did he, since he was such in God’s sacrifice, himself later become a sacrifice to God, so that being the first to manifest martyrdom he initiated the Lord’s passion by his blood, who had both the justice and peace of the Lord. Finally, such are crowned by the Lord; such on the day of judgement will be vindicated with the Lord. But the discordant and the dissident and he who has not peace with his brethren, according as the blessed Apostle and the Holy Scripture testify, not even if he be slain for His name, shall be able to escape the crime of fraternal dissension, because, as it is written: Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and a murderer does not arrive at the kingdom of heaven nor does he live with God. He cannot be with Christ, who preferred to be an imitator of Judas rather than of Christ. What a sin that is which cannot be washed away by the baptism of blood; what a crime that is which cannot be expiated by martyrdom!

— On the Lord’s Prayer, by St. Cyprian of Carthage, Chapter 24

And when the Spirit of prophecy speaks as predicting things that are to come to pass, He speaks in this way: “For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” And that it did so come to pass, we can convince you. For from Jerusalem there went out into the world, men, twelve in number, and these illiterate, of no ability in speaking: but by the power of God they proclaimed to every race of men that they were sent by Christ to teach to all the word of God; and we who formerly used to murder one another do not only now refrain from making war upon our enemies, but also, that we may not lie nor deceive our examiners, willingly die confessing Christ. For that saying, “The tongue has sworn but the mind is unsworn,” might be imitated by us in this matter. But if the soldiers enrolled by you, and who have taken the military oath, prefer their allegiance to their own life, and parents, and country, and all kindred, though you can offer them nothing incorruptible, it were verily ridiculous if we, who earnestly long for incorruption, should not endure all things, in order to obtain what we desire from Him who is able to grant it.

— First Apology, by St. Justin Martyr, Chapter 39

We who were filled with war, and mutual slaughter, and every wickedness, have each through the whole earth changed our warlike weapons,-our swords into ploughshares, and our spears into implements of tillage, — and we cultivate piety, righteousness, philanthropy, faith, and hope, which we have from the Father Himself through Him who was crucified; and sitting each under his vine, i.e., each man possessing his own married wife. For you are aware that the prophetic word says, ‘And his wife shall be like a fruitful vine.’ Now it is evident that no one can terrify or subdue us who have believed in Jesus over all the world.

— Dialogue, by St. Justin Martyr, Chapter 110

After the name of Christ was heard in the world, not only were wars not increased, but they were even in great measure diminished by the restraining of furious passions.

If all without exception, who feel that they are men not in form of body but in power of reason, would lend an ear for a little to His salutary and peaceful rules, and would not, in the pride and arrogance of enlightenment, trust to their own senses rather than to His admonitions, the whole world, having turned the use of steel into more peaceful occupations, would now be living in the most placid tranquillity, and would unite in blessed harmony, maintaining inviolate the sanctity of treaties.

— Against the Gentiles, by Arnobius9, Book 1, Chapter 6

He (Christ) not only preached through His own disciples, but also wrought so persuasively on men’s understanding that, laying aside their savage habits and forsaking the worship of their ancestral gods, they learnt to know Him and through Him to worship the Father. While they were yet idolaters, the Greeks and Barbarians were always at war with each other, and were even cruel to their own kith and kin. Nobody could travel by land or sea at all unless he was armed with swords, because of their irreconcilable quarrels with each other. Indeed, the whole course of their life was carried on with the weapons. But since they came over to the school of Christ, as men moved with real compunction they have laid aside their murderous cruelty and are war-minded no more. On the contrary, all is peace among them and nothing remains save desire for friendship.

Who, then, is He Who has done these things and has united in peace those who hated each other, save the beloved Son of the Father, the common Saviour of all, Jesus Christ, Who by His own love underwent all things for our salvation? Even from the beginning, moreover, this peace that He was to administer was foretold, for Scripture says, “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into sickles, and nation shall not take sword against nation, neither shall they learn any more to wage war.” Nor is this by any means incredible.

The barbarians of the present day are naturally savage in their habits, and as long as they sacrifice to their idols they rage furiously against each other and cannot bear to be a single hour without weapons. But when they hear the teaching of Christ, forthwith they turn from fighting to farming, and instead of arming themselves with swords extend their hands in prayer. In a word, instead of fighting each other, they take up arms against the devil and the demons, and overcome them by their self-command and integrity of soul.

— On the Incarnation, by St. Athanasius the Great, Chapters 8, 51 and 52


Moreover, you have many things to ponder. Ponder paradise, where Cain, who destroyed his brother through jealousy, does not return. Ponder the kingdom of heaven to which the Lord admits only those of one heart and mind. Ponder the fact that only those can be called the sons of God who are peace-makers, who, united by divine birth and law, correspond to the likeness of God the Father and Christ. Ponder that we are under God’s eyes, that we are running the course of our conversation, and life with God Himself looking on and judging, that then finally we can arrive at the point of succeeding in seeing Him, if we delight Him as He now observes us by our actions, if we show ourselves worthy of His grace and indulgence, if we, who are to please Him forever in heaven, please Him first in this world.

— Jealousy and Envy, by St. Cyprian of Carthago, Chapter 18

Non-Violence and Martyrdom

Non-violence and non-revenge is the Christian Norm

We, a numerous band of men as we are, have learned from His teaching and His laws that evil ought not to be requited with evil, that it is better to suffer wrong than to inflict it, that we should rather shed our own blood than stain our hands and our conscience with that of another. An ungrateful world is now for a long period enjoying a benefit from Christ, inasmuch as by His means the rage of savage ferocity has been softened, and has begun to withhold hostile hands from the blood of a fellow-creature.

— Against the Gentiles, by Arnobius, Book 1, Chapter 6

Why, then, are you disturbed? I will never willingly desert you, though if force is used, I cannot meet it. I shall be able to grieve, to weep, to groan; against weapons, soldiers, Goths, my tears are my weapons, for these are a priest’s defence.

I ought not, I cannot resist in any other way; but to fly and forsake the Church is not my way; lest any one should suppose I did so from fear of some heavier punishment. You yourselves know that I am wont to show respect to our emperors, but not to yield to them, to offer myself freely to punishment, and not to fear what is prepared for me.

— St. Ambrosius of Milan, Sermon Against Auxentius, on the Giving Up of the Basilicas10

Where the Saviour is named, there every demon is driven out. Again, who has ever so rid men of their natural passions that fornicators become chaste and murderers no longer wield the sword and those who formerly were craven cowards boldly play the man? In a word, what persuaded the barbarians and heathen folk in every place to drop their madness and give heed to peace, save the faith of Christ and the sign of the cross? What other things have given men such certain faith in immortality as have the cross of Christ and the resurrection of His body?

— On the Incarnation by St. Athanasius the Great, Chapter 8, 50

What a difficult, but yet elevated task it is for a Christian, to retain within himself the great joy of non-anger and love even when his enemy has been overthrown, when the persecuted martyr prepares himself to judge his recent persecutor and oppressor. The providence of God has already placed certain children of the Russian Orthodox Church in front of this temptation. Passions arise…

Orthodox Russia, let this shame pass by you! Let this curse not touch upon you. May your hand not be reddened by blood, which cries out to heaven. Do not let the enemy of Christ, the devil, carry you away by the passion of vengeance and to besmirch the endeavour of your martyrdom from the hands of the violators and persecutors of Christ. Remember: pogroms are the victory of your enemies. Remember: pogroms are a dishonour for yourself, a dishonour to the Church! For the Christian, the ideal is Christ, who used no sword to defend Himself, who brought the sons of thunder to peace, having prayed for His enemies on the Cross. For the Christian, the guiding light is the command of the holy Apostle, who suffered much for his Saviour and who sealed his dedication to Him by his death: “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God: for it is written: ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ No, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; is he his thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.'” (Rom. 12:19-20).

Should we, Christians, embark upon this way (of vengeance, ed.)? O, let this not be! Not even if our hearts would break from the grief and oppressions inflicted upon our religious feelings, our love of our native land or our temporary well-being, even if our feelings would infallibly tell us who and where our assailant is. No, let better bleeding wounds be inflicted upon us, than that we move to revenge, or worse even, to pogroms, against our enemies, or those, whom we take to be the source of our suffering. Follow Christ! Don’t betray Him! Don’t fall into temptation. Do not allow your own soul to perish in the blood of vengeance. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21).

— Pastoral letter to the faithful of the Orthodox Church of Russia, 8/21 July 1919, by St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow

You detach yourself from the cross to which you have crucified yourself alongside the Saviour if you go and hit your brother.

— Small Catechism, by St. Theodore the Studite

Martyrdom Without Self-defence

Hence (from the days of Cain and Abel) finally begin the first hatreds of the new brotherhood; hence the abominable parricides, when the unjust Cain is jealous of the just Abel, when the evil persecutes the good out of jealousy and envy… He was unjustly oppressed who had been the first to show justice; he endured hatred who did not know how to hate; he was slain impiously who while dying did not fight back. What other than the stimulus of jealousy provoked Saul the king also to hate David, to desire to kill that innocent, merciful man, patient with a gentle mildness, by often repeated persecutions? Because, when Goliath had been killed and so great an enemy had been slain by divine assistance and condescension, the admiring people burst forth into approbation unto praise of David, Saul through envy conceived the furies of hatred and persecution.

— Jealousy and Envy, by St. Cyprian of Carthago, Chapter 5

For this reason it is that no one of us fights back when he is apprehended, nor do our people avenge themselves against your unjust violence though numerous and plentiful. Our certainty of the vengeance which is to come makes us patient. The harmless give way to the harmful; the innocent acquiesce in the punishments and tortures certain and confident that whatever we suffer will not remain unavenged, and that the greater is the injury of the persecution, the more just and serious will be the vengeance for the persecution. Long ago divine Scripture laid down and said: ‘Vengeance is mine, I shall repay, says the Lord,’ and let the Holy Spirit again warn us saying: ‘Say not: I will avenge myself on my enemy, but wait in the Lord so that He may aid thee.’ Thus it is clear and manifest that not through us but for us do all these things happen which come down from the anger of God.

— To Demetrian, by St. Cyprian of Carthago, Chapter 17

They (the Christians) love all men, and they are persecuted by all. They are ignored, and yet they are condemned. They are put to death, and yet they are endued with life. They are in beggary, and yet they make many rich. They are in want of all things, and yet they abound in all things. They are dishonoured, and yet they are glorified in their dishonour. They are evil spoken of, and yet they are vindicated. They are reviled, and they bless; they are insulted, and they respect. Doing good they are punished as evil-doers; being punished they rejoice, as if they were thereby quickened by life. War is waged against them as aliens by the Jews, and persecution is carried on against them by the Greeks, and yet those that hate them cannot tell the reason of their hostility.

The flesh hateth the soul and wageth war with it, though it receiveth no wrong, because it is forbidden to indulge in pleasures; so the world hateth Christians, though it receiveth no wrong from them, because they set themselves against its pleasures. The soul loveth the flesh which hateth it, and the members: so Christians love those that hate them. The soul when hardly treated in the matter of meats and drinks is improved; and so Christians when punished increase more and more daily. So great is the office for which God hath appointed them, and which it is not lawful for them to decline.

— The Epistle to Diognetus, Chapters 5 and 6

Spiritual Benefit of Martyrdom

Our enemies do good when they are hostile and thereby cause no dishonour. The devil assists Job instead of harming him (Job 1+); the king of the Assyrians helps Daniel (Dan 3.1+); the three youths in the furnace profess God’s grace (Dan 3.24); Isaiah praises the Hebrews when he was sawed in half (cf. Heb 11.37); Zachariah blessed his murderers while standing between the temple and altar of incense (Mat 23.35-7); John proclaimed God’s help when Herod beheaded him (Mat 14.1+); the Apostles [blessed] those who bound and persecuted them; all the martyrs loved their persecutors and could not hold fast unless these athletes maintained their courage.

— Second Letter Concerning the Forty Martyrs, by St. Gregory of Nyssa

Love of Enemies

From the sacrament of the cross you receive both food and drink; let the wood, which availed at Mara in a figure for sweetening the taste, avail you in truth for soothing the softened breast, and you will not labour for the remedy for increasing the health. Cure yourself at the source from which you had been wounded. Love those whom you hated before; esteem those whom you envied with unjust disparagements. Imitate the good, if you can follow them; if you cannot follow them, surely rejoice with them and congratulate your betters. Make yourself a sharer with them in a united love; make yourself an associate in a fellowship of charity and in a bond (Syndesmos) of brotherhood. Your debts will be forgiven you, when you yourself shall forgive; your sacrifices will be accepted, when you shall come to God as a peace-maker. Your thoughts and actions will be directed by God, when you ponder the things that are divine and just, as it is written: ‘Let the heart of man ponder just things, so that his steps may be directed by God.’

— Jealousy and Envy, by St. Cyprian of Carthago, Chapter 17

They (the Christians) love all men, and they are persecuted by all. They are ignored, and yet they are condemned. They are put to death, and yet they are endued with life. They are in beggary, and yet they make many rich. They are in want of all things, and yet they abound in all things. They are dishonoured, and yet they are glorified in their dishonour. They are evil spoken of, and yet they are vindicated. They are reviled, and they bless; they are insulted, and they respect. Doing good they are punished as evil-doers; being punished they rejoice, as if they were thereby quickened by life. War is waged against them as aliens by the Jews, and persecution is carried on against them by the Greeks, and yet those that hate them cannot tell the reason of their hostility. In a word, what the soul is in a body, this the Christians are in the world.

The soul loveth the flesh which hateth it, and the members: so Christians love those that hate them.

— The Epistle to Diognetus, Chapters 5 and 6


Positive Service of War and Army

Law of Constantine concerning the confessors of the Christian religion.

Victor Constantinus, Maximus Augustus, to the inhabitants of the province of Palestine:

Once more, with respect to those who had previously been preferred to any military distinction, of which they were afterwards deprived, for the cruel and unjust reason that they chose rather to acknowledge their allegiance to God than to retain the rank they held; we leave them perfect liberty of choice, either to occupy their former stations, should they be content again to engage in military service, or after an honourable discharge, to live in undisturbed tranquillity.”

…Accordingly he called on God with earnest prayer and supplications that he would reveal to him who he was, and stretch forth his right hand to help him in his present difficulties. And while he was thus praying with fervent entreaty, a most marvellous sign appeared to him from heaven. About noon, when the day was already beginning to decline, he saw with his own eyes the trophy of a cross of light in the heavens, above the sun, and bearing the inscription, Conquer by this. At this sight he himself was struck with amazement, and his whole army also, which followed him on this expedition, and witnessed the miracle. And while he continued to ponder and reason on its meaning, night suddenly came on; then in his sleep the Christ of God appeared to him with the same sign which he had seen in the heavens, and commanded him to make a likeness of that sign which he had seen in the heavens, and to use it as a safeguard in all engagements with his enemies.

…Thus the emperor in all his actions honoured God, and exercised an unwearied oversight over His churches. And God requited him, by subduing all barbarous nations under his feet, so that he was able everywhere to raise trophies over his enemies: and He proclaimed him as conqueror to all mankind, and made him a terror to his adversaries: not indeed that this was his natural character, since he was rather the meekest, and gentlest, and most benevolent of men.

…Indeed, wherever this appeared, the enemy soon fled before his victorious troops. And the emperor perceiving this, whenever he saw any part of his forces hard pressed, gave orders that the salutary trophy should be moved in that direction, like some triumphant charm against disasters: at which the combatants were divinely inspired, as it were, with fresh strength and courage, and immediate victory was the result.

…The emperor, when he saw that he must meet his enemies in a second battle, devoted the intervening time to his Saviour. He pitched the tabernacle of the cross outside and at a distance from his camp, and there passed his time in a pure and holy manner, offering up prayers to God; following thus the example of his ancient prophet, of whom the sacred oracles testify, that he pitched the tabernacle without the camp. He was attended only by a few, whose faith and pious devotion he highly esteemed. And this custom he continued to observe whenever he meditated an engagement with the enemy. And then, as if moved by a divine impulse, he would rush from the tabernacle, and suddenly give orders to his army to move at once without delay, and on the instant to draw their swords. On this they would immediately commence the attack, fight vigorously, so as with incredible celerity to secure the victory, and raise trophies of victory over their enemies.

…With full confidence in his Saviour’s aid, he raised his conquering standard against these enemies also [the Scythian and Sarmatian tribes], and soon reduced them all to obedience; coercing by military force those who fiercely resisted his authority, while, on the other hand, he conciliated the rest by wisely conducted embassies, and reclaimed them to a state of order and civilisation from their lawless and savage life. Thus the Scythians at length learned to acknowledge subjection to the power of Rome.

…And not only so, but he also caused the sign of the salutary trophy to be impressed on the very shields of his soldiers; and commanded that his embattled forces should be preceded in their march, not by golden images, as heretofore, but only by the standard of the cross.

…With regard to those (soldiers) who were as yet ignorant of divine truth, he provided by a second statute that they should appear on each Lord’s day on an open plain near the city, and there, at a given signal, offer to God with one accord a prayer which they had previously learnt. He admonished them that their confidence should not rest in their spears, or armour, or bodily strength, but that they should acknowledge the supreme God as the giver of every good, and of victory itself; to whom they were bound to offer their prayers with due regularity, uplifting their hands toward heaven, and raising their mental vision higher still to the king of heaven, on whom they should call as the Author of victory, their Preserver, Guardian, and Helper. The emperor himself prescribed the prayer to be used by all his troops, commanding them, to pronounce the following words in the Latin tongue:

We acknowledge thee the only God: we own thee, as our King and implore thy succour. By thy favour have we got the victory. Through thee are we mightier than our enemies. We render thanks for thy past benefits, and trust thee for future blessings. Together we pray to thee, and beseech thee long to preserve to us, safe and triumphant, our emperor Constantine and his pious sons.” Such was the duty to be performed on Sunday by his troops, and such the prayer they were instructed to offer up to God.

— The Life of St. Constantine the Great, by Eusebius of Caesarea11, Book 1, Chapters 24-33; Book 2, Chapters 7-12; Book 4, Chapters 5-20

…You have taken from our soldiers everything for which they fought splendidly in the past. You have taught those, who not long ago were still brave and invincible, to abandon the defence of the motherland, to run from the battlefields12. You have extinguished in their hearts the conscience that “greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13).

— Letter to the Council of People’s Commissars, 13/26 October 1918, by St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow

War is one of the tools in the hands of God, as well as peace. War is a poison, which kills, but which at the same time cures and heals.

It is better to have one great and mighty river than many small streams which easily freeze in frost and which are easily covered with dust and filth. A war which gathers an entire people for a great cause is better than a peace which knows as many tiny causes at it knows people, which divides brothers, neighbours, all human beings, and which hides in itself an evil and hidden war against all.

We have to wish those, whom we love, both a good life and a good death. To die in the struggle for a great common cause is a good death.

— Thoughts about War and the Military Endeavour, by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic13

Leaflets of St. Sergius”, nr. 10, 1929

The Militant Church

The people of Israel shall encamp each by his own standard, with the ensigns of their fathers’ houses; they shall encamp facing the tent of meeting on every side.” (Nr. 2:2)

The Apostle Paul reveals to us that when the people of Israel, on its way towards the promised land, near Mount Sinai, under the burning fire, the cloud and the darkness, the storm and the mighty sound, received the Law from God and entered into covenant with Him, that then, for the establishment of this covenant, which we now name the Old, Christ Himself dominantly acted, and “His voice shook then the earth” (Hebr. 12:18-26). From this we have to conclude that Our Lord Jesus Christ, by his own orders through Moses at that moment established the so-called “tent of the meeting,” meaning the Temple of God.

From this follows as well that Our Lord Jesus Christ also gave this commandment: “The people of Israel shall encamp each by his own standard, with the ensigns of their fathers’ houses; they shall encamp facing the tent of meeting on every side.” (Nr. 2:2). Further, in this order the exact position of the armies around the tent is determined.

In this way, the army was spread out like the shape of a cross, and the centre of the cross was occupied by the “Tent of the meeting.”

Behold the first church established on earth, behold it amidst hosts and armies, established in this position by the Lord of the Church Himself.

— Sermon at the Consecration of a Military Church, by St. Philaret of Moscow, Leaflets of St. Sergius, nr. 10, 1929

Christianity Brought the End of Wars

Who, then, is He Who has done these things and has united in peace those who hated each other, save the beloved Son of the Father, the common Saviour of all, Jesus Christ, Who by His own love underwent all things for our salvation? Even from the beginning, moreover, this peace that He was to administer was foretold, for Scripture says, “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into sickles, and nation shall not take sword against nation, neither shall they learn any more to wage war.” Nor is this by any means incredible.

The barbarians of the present day are naturally savage in their habits, and as long as they sacrifice to their idols they rage furiously against each other and cannot bear to be a single hour without weapons. But when they hear the teaching of Christ, forthwith they turn from fighting to farming, and instead of arming themselves with swords extend their hands in prayer. In a word, instead of fighting each other, they take up arms against the devil and the demons, and overcome them by their self-command and integrity of soul.

— On the Incarnation, by St. Athanasius the Great, Chapter 8, 52

The Evils of War

There are three very grievous kinds of war. The one is public, when our soldiers are attacked by foreign armies: The second is, when even in time of peace, we are at war with one another: The third is, when the individual is at war with himself, which is the worst of all. For foreign war will not be able to hurt us greatly. What, I pray, though it slaughters and cuts us off? It injures not the soul. Neither will the second have power to harm us against our will; for though others be at war with us, we may be peaceable ourselves. For so says the Prophet, “For my love they are my adversaries, but I give myself unto prayer” (Ps. 109:4); and again, “I was at peace with them that hate peace”; and, “I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.” (Ps. 120:6, 7, LXX) But from the third, we cannot escape without danger. For when the body is at variance with the soul, and raises up evil desires, and arms against it sensual pleasures, or the bad passions of anger, and envy; we cannot attain the promised blessings, till this war is brought to an end; whoever does not still this tumult, must fall pierced by wounds that will bring that death that is in hell. We have daily need therefore of care and great anxiety, that this war may not be stirred up within us, or that, if stirred up, it may not last, but be quelled and laid asleep.

— Homily 7 on 1 Tim 2:2-4 , by St. John Chrysostom

For a little consider that you are being transported to the loftiest peak of a high mountain, that from this you are viewing the appearance of things that lie below you and with your eyes directed in different directions you yourself free from earthly contacts gaze upon the turmoils of the world. Presently you also will have pity on the world, and taking account of yourself and with more gratitude to God you will rejoice with greater joy that you have escaped from it. Observe the roads blocked by robbers, the seas beset by pirates, wars spread everywhere with the bloody horrors of camps. The world is soaked with mutual blood, and when individuals commit homicide, it is a crime; it is called a virtue when it is done in the name of the state. Impunity is acquired for crimes not by reason of innocence but by the magnitude of the cruelty.

— To Donatus, by St. Cyprian of Carthago, Chapter 6

How do we count the fruits of earthly blessings? If we … add to our account those who have fared well in combat through inflicting defeats in battle and other recorded deeds, these examples do not suit our objective. A Christian is ashamed at anything contrary to the faith and rejoices at praise coming from persons who love Christ much like those in the shadow of a notable person exult in his victories. Let us be silent about this world’s glories despite their numerous accounts.

— The first Homily concerning the forty Martyrs (Part One), by St. Gregory of Nyssa

The Inevitability of War

That wars continue with greater frequency, that barrenness and famine accumulate anxiety, that health is broken by raging diseases, that the human race is laid waste by ravages of pestilence, this too you should know was predicted, that in the last days evils are multiplied and adversities are diversified and presently with the approach of the day of judgement more and more is the censure of an indignant God roused to the scourging of the human race. For these things do not occur because your gods are not worshipped by us, but because God is not worshipped by you. For since He himself is the Lord and the Director of the universe, and since all things are done at His decision and nod and nothing can be done except what He Himself has done or has permitted to be done, surely when those things are done which show the anger of an offended God, these are done not on account of us by whom God is worshipped, but are inflicted because of your sins and merits, by whom God is neither sought nor feared, nor are empty superstitions abandoned and true religion recognised, so that He who is the one God for all is alone worshipped and sought by all.

— To Demetrian, by St. Cyprian of Carthago, Chapter 5

Killing and Bloodshed

The Sin of Killing and Bloodshed

So long as the nature we at present possess is preserved, the moral nature is not able to bear a punishment commensurate with the more numerous or more serious faults. For the robber, or ruler, or tyrant, who has unjustly put to death myriads on myriads, could not by one death make restitution for these deeds; and the man who holds no true opinion concerning God, but lives in all outrage and blasphemy, despises divine things, breaks the laws, commits outrage against boys and women alike, razes cities unjustly, burns houses with their inhabitants, and devastates a country, and at the same time destroys inhabitants of cities and peoples, and even an entire nation — how in a mortal body could he endure a penalty adequate to these crimes, since death prevents the deserved punishment, and the mortal nature does not suffice for any single one of his deeds?

It is proved, therefore, that neither in the present life is there a judgement according to men’s deserts, nor after death [but after the Resurrection, ed.].

— On the Resurrection of the Dead, Treatise of Athenagoras the Athenian14, Chapter 19

Hence (from the days of Cain and Abel) finally begin the first hatreds of the new brotherhood; hence the abominable parricides, when the unjust Cain is jealous of the just Abel, when the evil persecutes the good out of jealousy and envy.

— Jealousy and Envy, by St. Cyprian of Carthago, Chapter 5

The world is soaked with mutual blood. When individuals commit homicide, it is a crime; it is called a virtue when it is done in the name of the state. Impunity is acquired for crimes not by reason of innocence but by the magnitude of the cruelty.

On gladiator games: Man is killed for the pleasure of man, and to be able to kill is a skill, is an employment, is an art. Crime is not only committed but is taught. What can be called more inhuman, what more repulsive? It is a training that one may be able to kill, and that he kills is a glory. What is this, I ask you, of what nature is it, where those offer themselves to wild beasts, whom no one has condemned, in the prime of life, of a rather beautiful appearance, in costly garments? While still alive they adorn themselves for a voluntary death, wretched they even glory in their wicked deeds. They fight with beasts not because they are convicts but because they are mad. Fathers look upon their own sons; a brother is in the arena and his sister near by, and, although the more elaborate preparation of the exhibition increases the price of the spectacle, oh shame! the mother also pays this price that she may be present at her own sorrows. And at such impious and terrible spectacles they do not realise that with their eyes they are parricides.

— To Donatus, by St. Cyprian of Carthago, chapters 6 and 7

Public spectacles are the greatest incitement to vices; for they not only contribute in no respect to a happy life, but even inflict the greatest injury. For he who reckons it a pleasure, that a man, though justly condemned, should be slain in his sight, pollutes his conscience as much as if he should become a spectator and a sharer of a homicide which is secretly committed. And yet they call these sports in which human blood is shed. So far has the feeling of humanity departed from the men, that when they destroy the lives of men, they think that they are amusing themselves with sport, being more guilty than all those whose blood-shedding they esteem a pleasure. They are even angry with the combatants, unless one of the two is quickly slain; and as though they thirsted for human blood, they hate delays. They demand that other and fresh combatants should be given to them, that they may satisfy their eyes as soon as possible. Being imbued with this practice, they have lost their humanity. Therefore they do not spare even the innocent, but practise upon all that which they have learned in the slaughter of the wicked. It is not therefore befitting that those who strive to keep to the path of justice should be companions and sharers in this public homicide. For when God forbids us to kill, He not only prohibits us from open violence, which is not even allowed by the public laws, but He warns us against the commission of those things which are esteemed lawful among men. Thus it will be neither lawful for a just man to engage in warfare, since his warfare is justice itself, nor to accuse any one of a capital charge, because it makes no difference whether you put a man to death by word, or rather by the sword, since it is the act of putting to death itself which is prohibited. Therefore, with regard to this precept of God, there ought to be no exception at all but that it is always unlawful to put to death a man, whom God willed to be a sacred animal.

If, then, it is in no way permitted to commit homicide, it is not allowed us to be present at all, lest any bloodshed should over spread the conscience, since that blood is offered for the gratification of the people.

— The Divine Institutes, by Lactantius, Book 6, Chapter 20

All who take the sword will perish by the sword.

–Matthew 26:52

The rivers of blood of our brothers, shed mercilessly at your orders, cry out to heaven and presses us to speak to you a bitter word of truth.

…Celebrate your anniversary in power by liberating the prisoners, by stopping bloodshed, violence, destruction, the restriction of faith; turn not to destruction, but to the establishment of order and lawfulness, grant the people the desired and well-deserved rest from civil war. Or else all just blood that you have shed shall be required from you (Lk. 11:51), and from the sword you shall perish, who have taken up the sword. (Mt. 26:52)

— Letter to the Council of People’s Commissars, 13/26 October 1918, by St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow

We don’t even mention that bloodshed always calls for new blood. And vengeance — for new revenge. Constructing on enmity means constructing on a volcano. There will be an explosion, and once more there will be an empire of destruction and death…

— Pastoral letter to the faithful of the Orthodox Church of Russia, 8/21 July 1919, by St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow

Chapter 5 page 2



Nation, Nationalism

Ethno-phyletism (Racism)

There have always been two races in the world; they exist today, and this division is more important than all other divisions. There are those who crucify and those who are crucified, those that oppress and those who are oppressed, those who hate and those who are hated, those who inflict suffering and those who suffer, those who persecute and those who are persecuted. It needs no explanation on whose side Christians should be.

— Christianity and Anti-Semitism (the religious destiny of Judaism), by N. Berdyayev, Paris, 1935, p. 30

Who Is Jesus Christ for Us?

When the question of the national (ethnic) origins of our Saviour comes in first position and overshadows the essence of the Christian teaching, a question naturally appears: who is Jesus Christ for us? A tribal leader, whose authority should facilitate national unification, or God, who saves us from malediction and death? For the believing mind the answer is self-evident, and those for whom Christianity is merely an ideology prefer, as Dostoevsky said, to stay with their own “truth” rather than with Christ.

For the leader of RNU, Jesus Christ is the tribal god of the Indo-Aryans, which will help us to establish a mighty national state, having placed us above all peoples. Remember: it was exactly this kind of Messiah that the majority of the Jewish people were expecting, because they had wrongly understood the prophecies of the Old Testament by giving them an exclusively earthly sense. Such an understanding fundamentally contradicts the preaching of Christ on the Kingdom of God, which is spiritual and above nature, a Kingdom which begins on earth and has no end.

By attempting to give a national character to Christianity, the leader of the RNU willingly or unwillingly attacks the very essence of Christ’s preaching. Christianity is not the national religion of the Indo-Europeans, nor is it an ideology. Christ is neither a national leader, nor a tribal chief. We believe in Christ, the God who saves us, the true, living God, the God of love. He says to us: “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Mt. 11:28-30). And, in the reply of the human soul top this appeal, in our striving towards Him, in the words of St. Paul, already “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:28-29).

Who needs such patriotism?

Patriotism is love for our motherland, our people with its customs and traditions, its sanctuaries and its faith. The patriotism of Mr. Barkashov has nothing in common with genuine patriotism, since it tramples on the foundations of the Orthodox faith of our people.

— In Whom Do We Believe?1, by Evgeniy Petrovskiy

(Syndesmos Eastern Europe Regional Representative)

From: Vstrecha Orthodox Student Journal, Nr. 3 (9), 1998

Ethno-phyletism and Orthodox Unity

As well as being a perversion of normal patriotic sentiment, racism is a real obstacle to cooperation between the Orthodox churches in the world and the worst enemy of the unity of the churches of the Orthodox East.

The predominance in the locally formed churches of the national character must be seen as responsible for … the dividing of peoples and churches. In principle such a division does not contradict the spirit of Christianity. But the principle of division by race, which came to prevail widely, assumed its worst possible form among some of these groups: that of pure racism or chauvinism, the worst enemy of peace, which destroys unity between the local Orthodox churches.2

… In reality, the Church organisation is based not on autocephaly, but chiefly on the principle, that one bishop stands for one church in one place. This, the local principle, makes quite plain by the unity and concord of the local church the unity of the new People of God, in which there is neither Jew or Greek, but a new creation in Christ.

— The Ecumenical Patriarchate in the Orthodox Church, by Metropolitan Maximus of Sardes, Thessaloniki, 1976

Orthodoxy and Identity

From a dogmatic and mystical point of view, the issue of Church and national identity is only a part of the great question of the relation of the Church with human history and cultural creation. However strange this may seem, after two thousand years of Christian history this question, notwithstanding its greatness and its actuality, has not yet found a conciliar answer within the Church. It has not found it, because it has not been raised in the Church. It has not been raised, because it has not been envisaged.

… The Eastern Orthodox non-humanistic world view experiences the tragedy of the “refusal of the world” with incomparably greater strength (than Western Christianity). Orthodox consciousness and the mysticism of Orthodox piety are deeply and essentially ascetic. The spirit of Palestinian, apostolic, eschatological Christianity, torn away from the concerns of history and resurrected in the spirit of monastic asceticism, still dominates in the heart of Orthodoxy. The century-long national-political inter-connectedness of Orthodox churches with Byzantine-style states didn’t shatter this intimate non-historicity of Orthodoxy.

… This radical asceticism of Orthodoxy seems to have little in common with its factual external history as a confession which is linked primarily, with almost pagan naivety to the life of specific nations, states and cultures. This cannot be explained by some positive inspiration of Orthodox mysticism and Orthodox ascetic piety on the tasks of human earthly history, but rather by a certain weakness and defenselessness of asceticism as such in all its forms. Christian asceticism knows an element of refusal of violent defence against evil.

… The Church should consider the values of national life according to the elementary analogy of the primacy of the spirit over the flesh. For Christianity, all is in second place to the mysteries of divine Revelation and the aims of the Kingdom of God. All other values are secondary and subject to spiritual and godly life, which is guarded by the Church. Lesser, relative values stand in opposition of the one greater and absolute value. The value of national origin is indisputable as well as the value of the self-affirmation of every individual personality, but they are relative values, easily changing into sinful egoism. They find their justification in their submission to the rule of absolute measures, the measures of the Church. From this point of view, relative values are unstable. In the judgement of the Church they may change into negative entities. Personal, natural egoism as well as national self-affirmation may from a relative good change, as a result of an orientation away from Christianity, into evil paganism.

What do we see in the reality of today? The patriarchal times when the national life of peoples would flourish and prosper under the good influence of the Church, have gone forever. The XIXth and particularly the XXth centuries have proved to be centuries of a new and stormy flourishing of national enthusiasms, but in a secular, lay and often simply an anti-Christian spirit. The recent self-affirming pathos of all small nations, not only in Europe but on all continents, is nothing but pagan nationalism. XIXth-century nationalism, although pagan in essence, in the great European nations still was only neutral in regard to the Church; it was anti-clerical and anti-church only as a result of practical and tactical clashes with the organised forces of the Church. (…) In the XXth century we witness a rather unexpected solidification of this anti-Christian lay spirit in some sort of religious paganism, with its own sort of mysticism, diametrically opposed to Christianity. Such is German racism with its resurrection of the religion of Thor, Odin and Wodan and Italian Fascism with its hysteric and artificial idolatry of the state and the physical Rome.

… In the face of this primitive and spiritually war-waging nationalism in the spirit of racism and fascism, the Church already has no grounds whatsoever for noble concessions. She is obliged to wage a tense war, if even defensive, against this demonic and perverse nationalism.

… The organisational task of the Orthodox churches is the gathering of the individual autocephalous churches, spread over tiny national areas, de facto submitted and sometimes enslaved by the state, into organised conciliar unions, capable of lifting up individual churches somewhat above the level of their nations. Fragmented as it is, Orthodoxy, particularly in our “communist” and “fascist” time, which loses no time being kind to any, let alone religious freedom, must hastily acquire some extra-territorial strength in its great ecclesial “monarchies” and ecumenical councils, as prescribed by the canons. The present moment demands for the Orthodox East to re-enter into the conciliar practice, mutual contact and extra-territorial unification, as a start by means of permanent inter-conciliar synods. This need is prescribed by the tasks of the Church as regards national life and the new dangers in this field which appear out of the forces of pagan nationalism.

— The Church and National Identity, by A. Kartachov, Paris, 1934

… While economic logic pushes in the direction of globalisation, interdependence and regional integration, political logic moves, in numerous regions, towards national fragmentation. This process is not accompanied by the decline of nationalisms. We are obliged to note that the global market and the universal Homo economicus don’t dissolve distinctive ethnic identities, either intra-national or supra-natural.

The paradox of globalisation, accompanying the development of a society of consumption and planet-wide entertainment, is that in producing homogenisation and uniformisation it exacerbates the need for distinction and recognition. The more individuals — and peoples — look alike, the more they will seek to underline their differences. The smaller the real differences are, the more their significance is underlined. To deny a similarity with the other may serve as a means for resurrecting a lost distinctive feature.

Citizenship is less and less a space for free encounters between persons. Men and women are often reduced to the roles assigned to them by the forces of the market or by those of neo-tribalism: from the one side, individuals defined by their needs and consumer capacities, from the other, the subjection of the individual to the interests — often pretended — of a community which is structured, in its head, by opposition to others.

Between relativist consumerism, including the religious level, and the re-appearance of ethnic or communitarian fanaticism, Orthodoxy is called to make its way to the future.

— Reflections on the Orthodox Identity in Today’s World, by Tarek Mitri3, Speech at the 10th congress of the Orthodox Fellowship in Western Europe, Paray-le-Monial 1999

Movements for the reaffirmation of religious identity have undergone a considerable change between 1975 and 1990. In fifteen years they have succeeded in transforming the confused reaction of their adherents to the ‘crisis of modernity’ into plans for rebuilding the world, and in those plans their holy scriptures provide the basis for tomorrow’s society. These movements have arisen in a world which has lost the assurance born in scientific and technological progress since the 1950’s. Just as the barriers of poverty, disease and inhuman working conditions seemed to be yielding, the population explosion, the spread of AIDS, pollution and the energy crises burst upon the scene — and all of these scourges lent themselves to presentation in apocalyptic terms. During the same period the great atheist messianic ideology of the twentieth century, communism, which had left its mark on most of the social utopias, went into its death throes, and finally succumbed in the autumn of 1989 when its most potent symbol, the Berlin Wall, was destroyed.

The Christian, Jewish and Muslim movements we have been observing are to be viewed in this dual perspective. Their first task was to fix labels on to the confusion and disorder in the world as perceived by their adherents, breathing fresh life into the vocabulary and the categories of religious thought as applied to the contemporary world. Next they conceived plans for changing the social order so as to bring it into line with the commands and values of the Old Testament, the Koran or the Gospels; for as they saw it, nothing else could ensure the advent of a world of justice and truth.

These movements have a great deal in common beyond mere historical simultaneity. They are at one in rejecting a secularism that they trace back to the philosophy of the Enlightenment. They regard the vainglorious emancipation of reason from faith as the prime cause of all the ills of the twentieth century, the beginning of a process leading straight to Nazi and Stalinist totalitarianism.

This radical challenge to the foundations of secular modernism is uttered by its own children, who have had access to today’s education. They see no contradiction between their mastery of science and technology and their acceptance of faith not bounded by the tenets of reason. In fact, people like Herman Branover consciously symbolise the fact that a ‘God fearing Jew’ can also be a ‘great scientist’. And the self-image favoured by Islamist militants is that of a girl student, muffled in a veil with only a slit for the eyes, bent over a microscope and doing research in biology.

All these movements agree that the modern secular city is now completely lacking in legitimacy. But while Christians, Muslims and Jews all consider that only a fundamental transformation in the organisation of society can restore the holy scriptures as the prime source of inspiration for the city of the future, they have differing ideas of what that city will be like. Each of these religious cultures has developed specific truths which, insofar as they provide the basis for a strong reapportion of identity, are mutually exclusive.

— The Revenge of God: the Resurgence of Islam, Christianity and Judaism in the Modern World, by Gilles Kepel


I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and I wish that it were already burning.” (Luke 12:49)

Jesus Christ claims that his mission is to cast fire upon the earth. This fire has come and it is burning. It is the fire of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of grace and truth, of peace and joy, of justice and all embracing love. This Spirit has come. And where He breathes, there is freedom. “For where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor. 3:17).

The organisation Syndesmos exists to be a “bond” which binds together many men and movements in the single unity of the one divine Spirit, in the single burning flame of the one divine Fire. As a World Fellowship of Orthodox Youth, Syndesmos takes its name from the apostolic words: “be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond — Syndesmos — of peace” (Eph. 4:3).

The world is not in peace. Neither is it in unity. The spirit of this world, which burns from the black ghettos of Chicago to the streets of Paris, from the Holy Land in the Middle East to the jungles of Africa, this spirit is not the Spirit of unity and peace. It is not a bond which can pacify and unite. It is a barrier which can only divide and destroy.

But the firm belief of Syndesmos, and its only reason for existence, is that there is a Spirit, not as this world gives, which is a power, a unity and a peace. There is a Spirit which can burn in men and movements and can empower them to go beyond every spirit of this world. This is the Spirit which Christ gives, the fire which He has cast upon the earth. And Syndesmos desires, as its only consuming desire, to be alive and burning with this spiritual fire.

— Jesus Christ in a Changing World, report of the VIIth, Syndesmos General Assembly, Introductory message, by Albert Laham, Syndesmos president, Rattvik 1968


The Role of the Church in Wartime

… Without doubt, from the Christian point of view, war is an evil and a sin, against which the Church is obliged to struggle. Here the Church, listening as a doctor with a stethoscope to the sick heart of the nation, should gather all the strength of its super-human impassivity and evangelic purity of consciousness, in order to show, when in moments of passionate nationalistic taking up of arms, by its non-earthly, prophetic judgement and its authoritative voice, both to its own people, to the enemy and to all mankind the way towards higher justice and towards better, nobler means to achieve it than the iron ultima ratio. This is the super-humanly difficult service the Church must render.

— The Church and National Identity, by A. Kartachov, Paris, 1934

“Just,” or “Holy” Wars

Our Church insists that religion is like a “secret balm” which should not be used by just anyone or in order to spark armed conflict. This balm is a gift of God, given to soften hearts, to heal wounds and to help persons and peoples establish bonds of brotherhood among them.

— “We pray God that peace and justice may once more reign in the Balkans”, Archibishop Anastasios of Albania, Tirana, 1999

There was another heresy as well — spiritualist this time — which tried to juxtapose itself to the materialism of the “equipment war,” to infuse it with an artificial soul. This was the ideology of a “holy war,” or a “crusade.” It had several nuances; the struggle for democracies, for freedom, for human dignity, for Western culture, for Christian civilisation, eventually for divine justice. I say “heresy,” because these ideas, although often justified by themselves, were not founded upon a living experience, They did not spring forth of a deep and healthy spring which only could have transformed them into “ideas-forces.” These words also sounded false, as all that is abstract. They sounded false especially because they wanted to present as absolute secondary and relative concepts and values. For even Christian civilisation, as a civilisation, is nothing but a product, a realisation, the exterior manifestation of an absolute reality, which is the faith of the Christian people. Holy wars are not waged over cathedrals, theological summae or missals. These are but the clothing of the Church — the clothing of Christ that was divided by the soldiers at the feet of the Cross. As for the Church, which is the source of these secondary goods, she has no need of our material defence, of our childish sword. It is useless to renew the naive gesture of Peter who cut the ear of the slave in the garden of Getsemani… War is not waged over absolute values: this was the great error of all wars we call “religious,” the main cause of their inhuman atrocities. It is not waged either over relative values which are tried to make absolute, over abstract concepts which are granted a religious character. Whether we oppose the idol of the “pure race” by the other, more humane idols of rights, liberty, humanity, — all the same these would be idols as well, hypostated and absolutised concepts; it would always remain a war of idols, not a human war… Human war, the only just (for as far as a war may be called just), is a war over relative values which are known to be relative. It is a war in which man — a being called to an absolute destiny — sacrifices himself spontaneously, without hesitation, for a relative value, which he knows to be relative: the soil, the earth, the motherland. And this sacrifice acquires an absolute imperishable value for the human person.

— Seven Days on the Roads of France (June 1940), by Vladimir Lossky4, Paris, 1998, p. 21

Conlict Between Ethnic and Religious Communities

Civilisation identity will be increasingly important in the future, and the world will be shaped in large measures by the interaction among seven or eight major civilisations. These include Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and possibly African civilisation. The most important conflicts of the future will occur along the cultural fault lines separating these civilisations from one another.

… The processes of economic modernisation and social change throughout the world are separating people from long-standing local identities. They also weaken the nation state as a source of identity. In much of the world, religion has moved in to fill this gap, often in the form of movements that are labelled “fundamentalist”. Such movements are found in Western Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism, as well as in Islam. In most countries and most religions the people active in fundamentalist movements are young, college-educated, middle-class technicians, professionals and business persons. The “unsecularization of the world,” Georges Weigel has remarked, “is one of the dominant social facts of life in the late twentieth century.” The revival of religion, “La revanche de Dieu,” as Gilles Kepel labelled it, provides a basis for identity and commitment that transcends national boundaries and unites civilisations.

… Cultural characteristics and differences are less mutable and hence less easily compromised and resolved than political and economic ones. In the former Soviet Union, communists can become democrats, the rich can become poor and the poor rich, but Russians cannot become Estonians and Azeris cannot become Armenians. In class and ideological conflicts, the key question was “Which side are you on?” and people could and did choose sides and change sides. In conflicts between civilisations, the question is “What are you?” That is a given that cannot be changed. And as we know, from Bosnia to the Caucasus to the Sudan, the wrong answer to that question can mean a bullet in the head. Even more than ethnicity, religion discriminates sharply and exclusively among people. A person can be half-French and half-Arab and simultaneously even a citizen of two countries. It is more difficult to be half-Catholic and half-Muslim.

… As people define their identity in ethnic and religious terms, they are likely to see an “us”versus “them” relation existing between themselves and people of different ethnicity and religion. The end of ideologically defined states in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union permits traditional ethnic identities and animosities to come to the fore.

… The fault lines between civilisations are replacing the political and ideological boundaries of the Cold War as the flash points for crisis and bloodshed. The Cold War began when the Iron Curtain divided Europe politically and ideologically.

The Cold War ended with the end of the Iron Curtain. As the ideological division of Europe has disappeared, the cultural division of Europe between Western Christianity, on the one hand, and Orthodox Christianity and Islam, on the other, has re-emerged. The most significant dividing line in Europe, as William Wallace has suggested, may well be the eastern boundary of Western Christianity in the year 1500. This line runs along what are now the boundaries between Finland and Russia and between the Baltic states and Russia, cuts through Belarus and Ukraine separating the more Catholic western Ukraine from Orthodox eastern Ukraine, swings westward separating Transylvania from the rest of Romania, and then goes through Yugoslavia almost exactly along the line now separating Croatia and Slovenia from the rest of Yugoslavia. In the Balkans this line, of course, coincides with the historic boundaries of the Habsburg and Ottoman empires. The peoples to the west and north of this line are Protestant or Catholic; they shared the common experiences of European history — feudalism, the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution; they are generally economically better off than the peoples to the east; and they may now look forward to increasing involvement in a common European economy and to the consolidation of democratic political systems. The peoples to the east and south of this line are Orthodox or Muslim; they historically belonged to the Ottoman or Tsarist empires and were only lightly touched by the shaping events in the rest of Europe; they are generally less advanced economically; they seem much less likely to develop stable democratic political systems. The Velvet Curtain of culture has replaced the Iron Curtain of ideology as the most significant dividing line in Europe. As the events in Yugoslavia show, it is not only a line of difference; it is also a line of bloody conflict.

… On the Eurasian continent, the proliferation of ethnic conflict, epitomised at the extreme in “ethnic cleansing,” has not been totally random. It has been most frequent and most violent between groups belonging to different civilisations. In Eurasia the great historic fault lines between civilisations are once more aflame. This is particularly true along the boundaries of the crescent-shaped Islamic bloc of nations from the bulge of Africa to central Asia. Violence also occurs between Muslims, on the one hand, and Orthodox Serbs in the Balkans, Jews in Israel, Hindus in India, Buddhists in Birma and Catholics in the Philippines. Islam has bloody borders.

— The Clash of Cultures, by Samuel Huntington, from: Foreign Affairs, Volume 72 No.3, Summer 1993

Killing and Bloodshed

Not only the Jews crucified Christ. By their acts, Christians, or those who call themselves Christians, have in the long course of history crucified Christ, they have crucified Him by their anti-semitism as well, they have crucified Him by their hate and their acts of violence, by their service to the powerful of this world, by their changes and deformations of the truth of Christ in the name of their own interests. … [I]t is better, when Christ is directly and openly denied, then when His name is used as a cover to act in the interests of one own’s kingdom. When people curse and persecute Jews for having crucified Christ, they clearly stand on the point of view of blood feuds, which was characteristic of ancient peoples, including the Jewish people. But blood feuds are absolutely unacceptable for the Christian consciousness; [replacing comma with semicolon] it fully contradicts the Christian understanding of human personality, of personal dignity and personal responsibility. Moreover, the Christian consciousness accepts no form of vengeance, neither personal or hereditary. Feelings of vengeance are sinful and we should repent of [for “in”] them. Heredity, blood, vengeance; all this is completely alien to pure Christianity and is introduced into it from outside, from ancient paganism.

— Christianity and Anti-semitism (The Religious Destiny of Judaism), by N. Berdyayev, Paris, 1935, p. 20

State-Church relations

Incompatibility of the Church with Absolute Statehood

Ap. 13:1: The beast in the given case clearly indicates the state, not just in the sense of the state’s organisation of legal order, which assists mankind on its ways (about which the Apostle speaks, when he says “there is no authority, except from God”, Rom. 13:1), but totalitarian statehood, attempting to become the sole determining and all-fulfilling principle of human life. Such a state that falsely exaggerates its own importance, constitutes by the very same not just a pagan principle, but a demonic one, the earthly face of Satan or the multitude of his faces. Such a state as an earthly kingdom affronts the Kingdom of Christ, wages war against it, and by the force of things constitutes — consciously or unconsciously — an anti-Christian force, a tool of the “prince of this world,” his kingdom, and the heads of such states become his masks.

Only in the Revelation of the New Testament the antagonism and struggle between the Kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of the prince of this world reach their final incompatibility, and this is specifically expressed in the Revelation of St. John. Other texts of the New Testament, such as the letters of the Apostles Paul and Peter (Rom. 13:1-7, Tit. 3:1, 1 Tim. 2:12, Petr. 2:13-17) search and find a certain measure of reconciliation with the state, its recognition as the rightful order of things, which guarantees external peace. The state, here, serves humanity as a means and is not an end in itself; it is submitted to the norms of morality. In this sense, indeed, it was possible to say: “There is no authority, except from God.” (…) When considering the Christian state — for as far as it has ever existed and can possibly exist — or more precisely, the state of the Christians, new boundaries and tasks appear, namely: serving Christian morality. However, such a service presupposes a certain spiritual equilibrium, where the state does not go beyond its own, legal tasks. Still even this situation always remains unstable; when the state crosses these boundaries, it turns into the beast.

In general, absolute states on earth are the image of man deified, of anti-Christianity, they are the incarnation of the spirit of the prince of this world, from whom it is said: “and to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority” (13:2). Even though in the days when the Revelation was written, this apparently referred to the Roman Empire as the image of state absolutism, today this may be applied to all varieties of this principle, to Bolshevism and racism (without even mentioning Japanese pagan deification of the Emperor and others). (…)

“And the whole earth followed the beast with wonder. Men worshipped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshipped the beast saying, ‘Who is like beast, And who can fight against it?'” (13:4). It is difficult to add anything to the simplicity of these words, which may be applied to the totality of world history. Today’s tsarism, both the Russian and the Germanic type, in their own way are new and almost unexpected parallels of Roman absolutism, as is its victorious self-affirmation, which leads entire peoples which are under its power to a state of madness.

— Commentary on the Apocalypse of St. John, by Fr. Sergi Boulgakov5, Paris, 194, p. 100-104

Compliance with Existing National and State Structures

Christianity and the Christian churches in many ways are obliged to repent, not only on (their handling of) the Jewish issue, but also on social matters, on war, on the constant compliance to the most negative state systems.

— Christianity and Anti-semitism (the religious destiny of Judaism), by N. Berdyayev, Paris, 1935, p.6

Using all forces of the spiritual battle with the sinful world for the defence of the soul from the attacks of sin, for the endeavour of passive suffering, asceticism renounces active participation in the things of this world; it accepts them as inevitable fact in the way that the laws of nature, harmed by sin, an the worldly sinful will of men arrange them. Accepting this, asceticism finds some consolation in nations and states that accept baptism and the seal of Christianity. Under this condition, their sinful earthly national existence finds an ideal and hope, just as every individual sinner: to throw from oneself, by means of repentance and asceticism, the weight of sin, to free oneself from corruption and to approach the boundaries of a kingdom which is neither earthly nor fleshly, but already heavenly and spiritual.

This is the logic of asceticism, in its every-day, prosaic historical existence, which creates the acceptance, typical for the Orthodox churches, of all existing local national regimes and even the submission to them. In fact, a compromise is achieved which is perceived by the majority as sufficiently founded in Orthodox dogma and mysticism. meanwhile, no clear motivation for such a compromise is provided for the theological consciousness.

Thus an internal paradox in the attitude of the Orthodox Church towards the interest of national life is created; having a tragic (negative towards things of the world, ed.) ascetic principle, we see a non-tragic, passive cohabitation with national interests. In addition, simple psychology, dominated as it is, speaking in biblical terms, by “flesh and blood”, easily brings forth the leading type of ecclesial nationalism and justification of narrow, local politics by the blessing of the Church. Instead of a tragic demand posed by an ascetic Church to the pagan and natural sphere of national motives and passions, we witness not only the forbearance and tolerance of morally imperfect ways of national politics by the Church, but even a direct service to these politics, going to the extremes of the temptations of opportunism and enslavement.

— The Church and National Identity, by A. Kartachov, Paris, 1934

Spiritual Warfare

For the first time, doubt took hold of my heart. The territory of France, its expanse in space and time is restricted, limited. Is there another stronghold, another soil, unchanging and fixed for ever, a space impenetrable by enemy invasions? Hasn’t is been said: “Do not fear enemies who can kill only the body, but rather fear those who, with the body, kill your soul?” Therefore, our only expanse free of enemy invasions, our only vital space, infinite in its richness and forces, we find in God. And thus our combat will be transposed to another terrain, it will become unlimited in new resources, forgotten for centuries but always present in our spiritual sub-soil. And then it will no longer be a material war which we will have lost, it will not even be the human war we have not yet lost, but which we may lose (for man may well be a hero, he always remains limited in his forces); it will be an interior combat where God will fight on our sides, against ourselves in a purifying and salutatory combat.

— Seven Days on the Roads of France (June 1940), by Vladimir Lossky, Paris, 1998, p. 34

endnotes for chapter 6:

1 The article reacts to the claims by the leader of the organisation “Russian National Unity,” Alexander Barkashov, that real Orthodoxy proclaims Christ to be the national, Aryan leader of the Russian people.

2 Schmemann writes that “Admitting the positive value of nationalism in Christianity, we must not fall into the trap of idealising history, fixing our eyes on the light, and shutting out what is dark. The progress and earthly life of the Church is not an idyll. On the contrary, it requires struggles and a vigilant ecclesial conscience… The danger of nationalism lies in its subconsciously altering the hierarchy of values, so that the nation no longer serves Christian justice, truth or itself, and no longer evaluates its life in accordance with these qualities. Instead, Christianity itself and the Church begin to be assessed and evaluated by the extent to which they serve the state, the nation, etc.” (A. Schmemann, Tserkov’ i tserkovnoye ustroistro, in Messager de l’Exarchat du Patriarche Russe en Europe Occidentale, March 1949, XIV). H. Alivizatos was no less perceptive when he wrote : “National and nationalistic theories and an exaggerated emphasis upon nationalism in the Church have caused the individual autocephalous churches to commit unacceptable acts which destroy the ecclesiastical organism by simply making it share the nationalistic inclinations of their own people… There is no doubt that exaggerated stress upon national churches has been detrimental to the integrity of Orthodoxy, and the various churches’ unrestricted involvement in national antagonisms has damaged the great basic principles of the Orthodox consciousness in the whole of ecclesiastical life and has deeply and seriously wounded the internal unity of Orthodoxy” (H. Alivizatos, Peri tis enotitos en tis orthodoxo Ekklisia), pp. 169-170

3 Tarek Mitri is Professor of Sociology at Balamand Orthodox University in Lebanon and Head of the Office on Inter-Religious Relations of the World Council of Churches in Geneva. He is a former member of the Executive Committee of Syndesmos.

4 This book, published in 1988, contains the notes taken by one of the leading Orthodox theologians of the XXth century, Vladimir Lossky, during his attempts to join the retreating French army in June 1940. The present passage starts denouncing the “heresy” of those who tried, during those first days of the war, to reduce the “war to an industrial enterprise, a matter of capital.”

5 Fr. Sergi Boulgakov, Dean of St. Sergius’ theological Academy in Paris, wrote this commentary of the Apocalypse during the first half of the Second World War. Started as notes for his lectures, he finished a draft of the book version shortly before his death in 1944.

marginal quotation from chapter 6:

The point of view idea that there is a latent conflict between Islam and Christianity in Kosovo, and that this conflict has become one of the cause of the war, is completely wrong. Those responsible for this crisis have not acted in the name of a given religion. On the contrary, they have been raised and educated under a regime which had a deep contempt for religion. On the other hand, everyone knows that the vast majority of the NATO member countries belong the Christian tradition. It is very dangerous to exploit religious ideas and words in armed conflict. Any crime committed in the name of a religion is a crime against religion itself. Our Church insists that religion is like a “secret balm” which should not be used by just anyone or in order to spark armed conflict. This balm is a gift of God, given to soften hearts, to heal wounds and to help persons and peoples establish bonds of brotherhood among them.

— “We pray God that peace and justice may once more reign in the Balkans”, Archbishop Anastasios of Albania


For the Peace From Above — Table of Contents



7.1 Prayer for Peace in the Liturgy

Extracts from the writings of Archimandrite Lev Gillet, most of whose books were published anonymously as “A Monk of the Eastern Church”

The Great Litany by which the Divine Liturgy begins opens with a fervent request that peace be granted to us. This request is so important and so basic that it recurs three times in slightly different forms. These are not superfluous repetitions, for each of these petitions is filled with a deep and special meaning.

“In peace let us pray to the Lord!” This means first of all that we are called to assume a state of inner peace. Those who will take part in the Divine Liturgy should rid their minds of all confusion, all susceptibility to fleshly and earthly temptations, all obsession with “worldly cares,” all hostile feelings towards any other person, and all personal anxiety. They should come before God in a state of inner calmness, trusting attentiveness, and single-minded concentration on “the one thing needful.” (Luke 10:42)

Then at once there is a second request: “For the peace from above and the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord!” The peace which we have already requested is something other than a state of mind or a psychological condition produced by our own effort. It is the peace which comes ‘from above.” We should humbly recognise that such peace is a gift from God, and we should open ourselves to this gift, stretching out our hands to receive it. On the other hand, we recognise that the divine peace and the “salvation” of our souls are intimately related. Peace is a sign of the presence and the work of the Saviour within us.

Then comes a third request for peace: “For the peace of the whole world, for the welfare of the holy Churches of God and for the union of all, let us pray to the Lord!” The peace which we request goes beyond our isolated persons and acquires a practical aspect. We pray for the peace of the universe, not only for mankind, but for every creature, for animals and plants, for the stars and all of nature. Thereby we enter into a cosmic piety, we find ourselves in harmony with everything God has called into being. We pray for every disciple of Christ, in order that through each one God might be worshipped “in Spirit and in Truth.” We pray for an end to warfare and to struggles between races, nations and social classes.

We pray that all of humanity might be united in a common love.

Every temple of the Lord is a house of divine Presence and a house of prayer. Every temple is also a house of peace. May the soul of all those who enter into this holy temple to take part in the assembly of God, become itself a house of peace.

— From Serve the Lord with Gladness by Fr. Lev Gillett, Saint Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1990

7.2. From the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great

From the Eucharistic Canon (Anaphora) of the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great

The priest prays:

Again we pray thee, remember, O Lord, the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, which is from one end of the world to the other, and give peace to Her whom thou hast purchased with the precious Blood of thy Christ, and establish thou this holy house, even unto the consummation of the age.

Remember, O Lord, those who have offered unto thee these Gifts, and those for whom, and through whom, and the ends whereunto they are offered. Remember, O Lord, those who bear fruit and do good works in thy holy churches, and who remember the needy; requite them with thy rich and heavenly gifts; give them things heavenly for things earthly, things eternal for things temporal, things incorruptible for things corruptible. Remember, O Lord, those in the deserts, the mountains, and in the caverns and pits of the earth. Remember, O Lord, all those who continue in virginity and devotion, and in asceticism and a sober way of life.

Remember, O Lord, the Emperor, all civil authorities, and the armed forces; grant them peaceful times, that we also in their tranquility may lead a calm and quiet life in all piety and sobriety. In thy goodness guard those that are good, and make good those that are evil, by thy loving kindness.

Remember, O Lord, the people present, those that for good cause are absent, and have mercy on them and on us, according to the multitude of thy mercies. Fill their garners with every good thing; guard their marriage bond in peace and in oneness of mind; rear the infants; train the young; support the aged; encourage the fainthearted; gather together the scattered, and lead back those who wander astray, and join them to thy Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Free those who are vexed by unclean spirits; travel with those that journey by land, by sea, and by air; protect the widows; defend the orphans; deliver the captives; heal the sick. And those that are under trial, in the mines, in exile, in bitter bondage, in every tribulation, necessity, and danger, do thou remember, O God.

And all those that are in need of thy great goodness of heart, and those also who love us, and those who hate us, and those who have commanded us the unworthy to pray for them, do thou remember, O Lord our God, and all thy people, and upon all pour out thy rich mercy, granting to all their petitions which are unto salvation. And those whom we through ignorance or forgetfulness or the multitude of names have not remembered, do thou thyself remember, O God, who knowest the age and name of each, and knowest every man even from his mother’s womb. For thou art the Helper of the helpless, the Hope of the hopeless, the Savior of the storm-tossed, the Haven of the voyager, the Physician of the sick. Be thou thyself all things to all men, O thou who knowest every man, his petitions, each house and its need.

Deliver, O Lord, this city and every city (or this village, or this abode), and country from famine, pestilence, earthquake, flood, fire, the sword, foreign invasion, and civil war.

And the priest exclaims:

Among the first, remember, O Lord, our lord, the Most Holy Patriarch (Name), our Bishop (Name), whom do thou grant unto thy holy churches in peace, safety, honor, health, and length of days, rightly dividing the word of thy truth.

The singers sing:

And all mankind.

7.3. Commentary of the Mysteries, by St. Cyril of Alexandria

In his commentary on the Divine Liturgy, St. Cyril gives a brief summary of the “Great Intercession,” in which, according to the common text of the Liturgy of St. James, there is a suffrage “for the peace and welfare of the whole world, and of the holy Churches of God.” From Chrysostom’s language, we must infer that the prayer formed part of the “Great Intercession” in his Liturgy.

Ye have seen then the Deacon who gives to the Priest water to wash, and to the Presbyters who stand round God’s altar. He gave it not at all because of bodily defilement; it is not that; for we did not enter the Church at first with defiled bodies. But the washing of hands is a symbol that ye ought to be pure from all sinful and unlawful deeds; for since the hands are a symbol of action, by washing them, it is evident, we represent the purity and blamelessness of our conduct. Didst thou not hear the blessed David opening this very mystery, and saying, I wall wash my hands in innocence, and so will compass Thine Altar, O Lord? The washing therefore of hands is a symbol of immunity from sin.

Then the Deacon cries aloud, “Receive ye one another; and let us kiss one another.” Think not that this kiss is of the same character with those given in public by common friends. It is not such: but this kiss blends souls one with another, and courts entire forgiveness for them. The kiss therefore is the sign that our souls are mingled together, and banish all remembrance of wrongs. For this cause Christ said, If thou art offering thy gift at the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against time, leave there thy gift upon the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. The kiss therefore is reconciliation, and for this reason holy: as the blessed Paul somewhere cried, saying, Greet ye one another with a holy kiss; and Peter, with a kiss of charity.

Then, after the spiritual sacrifice, the bloodless service, is completed, over that sacrifice of propitiation we entreat God for the common peace of the Churches, for the welfare of the world; for kings; for soldiers and allies; for the sick; for the afflicted; and, in a word, for all who stand in need of succour we all pray and offer this sacrifice.

— Lecture 23 on the Mysteries, by St. Cyril of Alexandria, Chapter 5, “On the Sacred Liturgy and Communion.”

7.4. Prayers by the Lake, by Bishop Nikolai of Ochrid

Bishop Nikolai (Velimirovic) of Ochrid ( 1956) is regarded by many as a saint of the Serbian Orthodox Church yet to be canonised. He is best known for The Prologue from Ochrid, a four-volume work on the lives of the saints. Little by little his writings are being translated into English.


Thou hast filled thyself with peace, O Glory of the realms on high, and the anger of all lands cannot shake Thy peace.

Among mortals there is little peace; therefore anger has gained in strength.

Anger makes its nest in the breast of arrogance and murder lies in the breast of anger.

All sins tend to murder, and none stands so close to murder as anger.

One-eyed earthly laws do not punish anger, because they do not see that anger kills. But Thy discerning law, O Glory of the realms on high, calls anger murder.

I have striven, in sunlight and moonlight, to penetrate the mystery of Thy law and, once my striving began to wear away all my worldly hopes, I began to perceive how my anger towards neighbours was killing me.

The children of anger are slaves, while the children of peace are sons. Therefore Thy wisdom speaks to men and reiterates to them: Be sons! A son looks into the face of his father, and turns his own face towards that of his father. When he sees peace in his father’s face, how can he distort his own face with anger, and yet not turn his gaze away from his father?

Anger brings infirmity into both the one who is angry and the one against whom the anger is vented. And infirmity is the precursor of death.

A wonder worker does not work miracles among children of anger, for the children of anger bring infirmity unto him.

O my neighbours, why do you feel stronger among those who love you, and weaker among those whom your presence angers? Is it not because the former add to your life by love, and the latter take from it through anger?

It is therefore my delight to be constantly with thee, O Glory of the realms on high. For only in Thy presence I neither kill them nor they me.

Just as drop after drop of water wears away even the hardest stone, so anger wears away the life of two people.

Like a murderer waiting in ambush with a knife, so anger burns in a proud heart.

Truly, arrogance knows that it is guilty; therefore it places anger at the gate, to act as its sentry.

Arrogance knows that it is sinful; therefore it has found itself an advocate in another sin.

Fill my heart with humility, O Glory of the realms on high, with the humility of the angels before Thy throne, for humility gives no abode or resting place to anger.

Grant me the humility of a son, and I shall be ashamed to become angry at slaves or kill slaves. Arm me with Thy peace, that the anger of the children of anger will not be able to confound.


The Father looks down from heaven and sees me all covered with wounds from the injustice of men, and says: “Take no revenge.”

On whom should I take revenge, O Lord? On part of a flock on its way to slaughter?

Does a doctor take revenge on his patients for cursing him on their death beds?

Or whom should I take revenge? On the snow for melting, or on the grass for withering? Does a grave digger take revenge on those going down into the grave?

On whom shall I take revenge? On simpletons, for thinking that they can do evil to someone else in the world besides themselves? Does a teacher take revenge on illiterate children for not knowing how to read?

Eternity is my witness that all who are quick to take revenge are slow to read and comprehend its mysteries.

Time is my witness that all who have taken revenge have accumulated poison in themselves and have, with this poison, blotted themselves out of the Book of Life.

In what can you avengers boast before your adversaries, except my being able to repeat their evil? Are you not thereby saying: “We are no better than you?”

God is my witness that both you and your adversaries are equally reckless and equally incapable of good.

I have seen a cherry tree stripped of its bark and set fire to by children, yet it gave ripe fruit to those same children.

And I have seen cows, which men tormented with heavy burdens, patiently give milk to those same men.

Tears welled up in my eyes, and I asked: Why is nature more compassionate to men than man is to his fellow man?

Nature is my witness, O ye avengers, that only he is more powerful than those who do him evil who is powerless to copy their evil deeds.

There is no end to vengeance, and the descendants continue the work of their fathers and then go hence, leaving it unfinished.

Evil hastens along a wide road, and from each new duel it gains strength and territory, and increases its retinue.

A wise man gets off the road and leaves evil to hurry on.

A barking dog is more quickly silenced by a piece of bread than by many hurled stones.

He who taught men: “An eye for an eye,” also taught them how they would all be left blind.

On whom shall I take revenge, O my heavenly Father? On part of a flock on its way to slaughter?

Ah, how wretched are all evildoers and all who take revenge! Truly, they are like a flock of sheep on the way to slaughter that, unaware of where they are heading, butt horns with each other and wreak a slaughter before the slaughter.

I do not seek vengeance, my Father; I do not seek vengeance, but rather that Thou grant me a sea of tears, so that I can bewail the wretchedness of those who are on their way to slaughter, not knowing where they are going.


Men can do me no evil as long as I bear no wound.

I saw two caves, one of which gave off an echo, while the other was dumb. Many curious children visited the former, incessantly engaged in shouting matches with the cave. But visitors quickly left the other cave, because it gave them no echo in return.

If my soul is wounded, every worldly evil will resound within it. And people will laugh at me, and will bear more and more strongly on me with their shouting.

But evil-speaking people will not really harm me, if my tongue has forgotten how to form evil words.

Nor will external malice sadden me, if there is no malice in my heart to resound like a goatskin drum.

Nor shall I be able to respond to wrath with wrath if the lair of wrath within me has been vacated and there is nothing to be aroused.

Nor will human passions titillate me if the passions within me have been turned to ashes.

Nor will the untruthfulness of friends sadden me if I have chosen Thee for my friend.

Nor can the injustice of the world overwhelm me if injustice has been banished from my thoughts.

Nor will the deceitful spirits of worldly pleasure, honour and power delude me, if my soul is like a spotless bride, who receives only the Holy Spirit and yearns for Him alone.

Men cannot send anyone off to hell unless that person sends himself, nor can men hoist anyone up on their shoulders to the throne of God, unless that person elevates himself.

If my soul has no open windows, no mud can be thrown into it.

Let all nature rise up against me; it can do nothing to me except a single thing — to become as soon as possible the grave of my body.

Every worldly crop is covered with manure, so that it will sprout as soon as possible and grow better. If my soul were, alas, to abandon its virginity and receive the seed of this world into itself, then it would also have to accept the manure that the world casts on its fields.

But I call upon Thee day and night: “Come, dwell in my soul and close all the places where my enemies can enter. Make the cavern of my soul empty and dumb, so that no one from the world will desire to enter it.”

O my soul, my only care, be on guard and learn to distinguish between the voices that smite your ears. Once you hear the voice of your Lord, abandon your dumbness and echo it with all your strength.

O my soul, thou cavern of eternity, never allow temporal thieves to enter into thee and kindle their fire within thee. Be dumb when they shout at you. Stay still when they bang on you, and patiently await your Master — for He will truly come.

7.5. A Soldier’s Prayer

The following prayer was found in the pocket of a Russian soldier killed during World War II.

Do you hear me, God?

Never before in my life have I spoken to you, but today I want to greet you.

You know that since I was a child, they said that you didn’t exist… And I was foolish enough to believe them.

Never before have I realized the beauty of your creation.

Today only I discovered this beauty, when suddenly an abyss opened.

Above me, a sky filled with stars. Amazed, I saw how they twinkled.

How could I have been so cruelly deceived!

I don’t know, Lord, whether you will stretch out your hand to reach me, but for me, I will recognize you, and you will understand.

It’s a miracle that in the depth of this terrifying hell, light illuminates me… and that I have been able to see you.

I won’t tell you anything else, except what a joy it is to know you.

At midnight, we have received the order to attack; but I am not afraid. You are watching us.

Listen, there is the signal. I have to go. Yet, it was so good to be with you.

What I still wanted to say, You know, this combat will be mean. Maybe, tonight I will knock on your door. Even though I never was your friend, will you let me enter, when I come?

But — am I crying? Look what’s happening to me! My eyes have opened. Forgive me God.

I am going, and surely I will not come back.

But, o wonder, I am no longer afraid of death.

7.6. Prayer for the Salvation of the Russian State

This prayer of intercession for the salvation of the Russian state and the elimination of strife and disorder in, the first version of which was written by St. Tikhon of Moscow, was frequently used by Hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church during the coup d’Etat of October 1993.

Lord God, our Redeemer! We bow down before you with contrite hearts and confess our sins and wilful unruliness by which we have angered you in your mercy and obstructed your blessings. For we have turned away from you, O Lord, we have not obeyed your commandments nor done as you have bidden us. Wherefore you have punished us with disorder and cast us under the feet of our enemies, we have become lower than the heathens and a scandal and disgrace to our neighbours. Great and wonderful God, you sorrow at our wickedness, you who raise up those who fall and make firm the feet of those who stumble. Send down to us here your heavenly power, heal the festering wounds of our soul and raise us up from our bed of sickness, for our loins are filled with weakness, we are ill with falsehood and we bring forth lawlessness. Take away the strife and turmoil in our land, remove from us envy and quarrelsomeness, murder and drunkenness, divorce and temptation, root out of our hearts all impurity, enmity and wickedness, that we may love one another once more and be one in you, our Lord and Ruler, as you have commanded and bidden us. Have mercy upon us O Lord, have mercy upon us, for we are filled with dishonour and we are not worthy to raise our eyes to heaven. Remember your mercy to our fathers, transform your wrath into pity and help us in our time of trouble. This prayer comes to you from your Church, which offers to you the supplication of your friends: our venerated and God-bearing fathers Sergi of Radonezh and Seraphim of Sarov, the holy Hierarchs of Moscow Peter, Alexis, Iona, Philip and consecrated martyr Hermogen, especially the holy Hierarch Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and all the saints who have shone forth in our land, but especially the All-holy Mother of God and All-pure Virgin Mary, who from times immemorial has covered our land with her protection and intercedes for it. Bring to reason all who govern and rouse in them good for your Church and for all your people. Strengthen our army through the power of your Cross and save it from all attacks by the enemy. Grant to us men of strength and understanding, and give us the spirit of wisdom and fear of God, the spirit of strength and devotion.

Lord, we seek refuge in you, teach us your will for you are God, in you is the source of life, in your light we see the light. Extend your goodness to those who know you for ever and ever. Amen.

7.7. Prayers for Peace in Former Yugoslavia

During the war in Bosnia, and later Yugoslavia, the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church has directed that the following petitions be inserted into appropriate litanies at Vespers, Matins and the Divine Liturgy:

Into the Great Litany:

For God’s mercy upon us, His unworthy servants, that we may all be protected from hatred and evil actions, that we may have instilled in us unselfish love by which all shall know that we are disciples of Christ and God’s people, as were our holy ancestors, so that we may always know to decide for the truth and righteousness of the Heavenly Kingdom, let us pray to the Lord.

For all those who commit injustice against their neighbours, whether by causing sorrow to orphans or spilling innocent blood or by returning hatred for hatred, that God will grant them repentance, enlighten their minds and hearts and illumine their souls with the light of love even towards their enemies, let us pray to the Lord.

At the Augmented Litany:

O Lord, how many are our foes who battle against us and say: there is no help for them from God or man. O Lord, stretch forth Thy hands that we may remain Thy people in both faith and works. If we must suffer, let it by in the ways of Thy justice and Thy truth — let it not be because of our injustice or hatred against anyone. Let us all fervently say: Lord have mercy (three times).

Again let us pray to God, the Saviour of all men, also for our enemies — that our Lord who loves mankind will turn them away from attacks on our Orthodox people, that they not destroy our churches and cemeteries, that they not kill our children or persecute our people, but that they too may turn to the way of repentance, justice and salvation. Let us all fervently say: Lord have mercy (three times).

7.8. On the issue of the blessing of weapons

In July 1995, the Orthodox Peace Fellowship addressed a letter to his Holiness Pavle, Patriarch of Serbia requesting that “the Synod require that no use be made of a service for blessing weapons included in an edition of the Book of Needs published in Kosovo in 1993. In the context of the events in former Yugoslavia, the blessing of weapons can only be regarded as sanctioning the use of weapons in a fratricidal war.” The letter refers to a private 1993 edition of the Book of Needs (Euchologion, Trebnik) which contains a service for the blessing of arms. The service does not figure in the Books of Needs published by the Holy Synods of the local Orthodox Churches. Nevertheless its usage of the words “swords” and “sabers” seems to indicate its ancientness, reflecting the fact that in many countries, the blessing of armies and arms is an established ecclesiastical custom. The text of the service is given below.

The Bishop or priest comes out of the altar to the table with the weapons in front of the ambon, incenses the weapons crosswise beginning as it is common.

Reader: Heavenly King, Trisagion, Our Father, Lord have mercy (12 times). Glory; both now and; come let us worship. . . and psalm 35. Glory; both now: hallelujah (three times)

Deacon: Let us pray to the Lord

The Bishop or priest reads this prayer over the weapons:

Lord our God, God of powers, powerful in strength, strong in battle, you once gave miraculous strength to your child David granting him victory over his opponent the blasphemer Goliath. Mercifully accept our humble prayer. Send your heavenly blessing over these weapons (naming each weapon). Give force and strength that they may protect your holy Church, the poor and the widows, and your holy inheritance on earth, and make it horrible and terrible to any enemy army, and grant victory to your people for your glory, for you are our strength and protection and we sing praise to your glory, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Then the priest sprinkles blessed water on the weapons saying:

Let the blessing of Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, come down on and remain upon these weapons and those who carry them, for the protection of the truth of Christ. Amen.

After this the soldiers carrying the weapons are blessed, with the prayer:

Be brave and let your heart be stronger and win victory over your enemies, trusting in God, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

After this each soldier kisses the cross.

This is the way to bless sword and saber. If there is only one sword to be blessed, or only one saber, he says only once: this sword, or: this weapon. If there are many, he says: bless these swords, or: bless these weapons.

7.9. Prayer for the Pacification of Animosity

This prayer has been taken from the English translation of the Slavonic Book of Needs (Synodal edition of the Russian Orthodox Church) but may be found in the Books of Needs of most Local Orthodox Churches.

Deacon: Let us pray to the Lord.

Singers: Lord have mercy.

Priest: “We thank you, O Master, Lover of Mankind, King of the ages and Bestower of good things, Who destroyed the dividing wall of enmity, and granted peace to the human race, and Who now has granted peace to Your servants. Instill in them the fear of you and confirm in them love one for the other. Extinguish every dispute and banish all temptation to disagreement. For You are our peace and to You we ascribe glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.”

— From the Book of Needs, South Canaan PA, 1987

marginal quotations from chapter 7:

There is something to war that might be like the only chance for the present condition of humanity. This does not mean that we might want war. But now that it has burst loose, it has to be used. … More than ever before, the war demands the mobilisation of absolutely all our spiritual forces and capacities. … Christ and the life-giving Holy Spirit demand the entire human being — now. The only difference with state mobilisation is that the State mobilises compulsorily, while our faith awaits volunteers. Will there be such volunteers, and, if so, which will their effort and their readiness for sacrifice — from this, in my view, the destiny of the human race depends. Indeed, war is the wing of death which overshadows the earth; war opens the gates of eternity for thousands and thousands of people; war crushes the established bourgeois order, cosiness and stability. War is a calling, war opens our eyes. … I know that right now, at this very instant, hundreds of people have encountered what is the most serious, Seriousness itself: death, and that thousands are standing in line. … And finally I know, I know with all my being, with all my faith, with all the spiritual strength that has been granted to the human soul, that God visits His world in this instant. And the world can receive His visitation — my heart is ready, it is ready,” — and instantly, our temporary and fallen life will encounter the depths of eternity, our human cross will become the likeness of the Cross of the God-Man, and then, through our very grief of death we will see the white robes of the angel who announces us: “He, who was dead, is no longer in the grave.”

— Mother Maria (Skobtsova), 1939


For the Peace From Above — Table of Contents

Chapter 9: Official statements


9.1. The Local Synod of Constantinople 1872

The Local Synod of Constantinople was caused by the unilateral establishment of a separate bishopric by the Bulgarian community of Constantinople. It was the first time in Church history that a separate diocese was established based on ethnic principles and not principles of Orthodoxy and territory in the city of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Patriarch of Constantinople convened a local Synod to discuss the matter. Below follows the Synod’s official condemnation of ecclesiastical racism, or Ethno-phyletism”, as well as its theological argumentation.

Extract from the Statement of the Local Synod which met in Constantinople in August 1872

We renounce, censure and condemn racism, that is racial discrimination, ethnic feuds, hatreds and dissentions within the Church of Christ, as contrary to the teaching of the Gospel and the holy canons of our blessed fathers which ‘support the holy Church and the entire Christian world, embellish it and lead it to divine godliness’.[1]

A section of the report drawn up by the special commission of the pan-Orthodox Synod of Constantinople in 1872 set up to investigate racism. This section includes the general principles which the Synod took when it condemned racism and issued its “definition”.

The question of what basis racism — that is discriminating on the basis of different racial origins and language and the claiming or exercising of exclusive rights by persons or groups of persons exclusively of one country or group — can have in secular states lies beyond the scope of our inquiry. But in the Christian Church, which is a spiritual communion, predestined by its Leader and Founder to contain all nations in one brotherhood in Christ, racism is alien and quite unthinkable. Indeed, if it is taken to mean the formation of special racial churches, each accepting all the members of its particular race, excluding all aliens and governed exclusively by pastors of its own race, as its adherents demand, racism is unheard of and unprecedented.

All the Christian churches founded in the early years of the faith were local and contained the Christians of a specific town or a specific locality, without racial distinction. They were thus usually named after the town or the country, not after the ethnic origin of their people.

The Jerusalem Church consisted of Jews and proselytes from various nations. The Churches of Antioch, Alexandria, Ephesus, Rome and all the others were composed of Jews but mainly of gentiles. Each of these churches formed within itself an integral and indivisible whole. Each recognised as its Apostles the Apostles of Christ, who were all Jews. Each had a bishop installed by these Apostles without any racial discrimination: this is evident in the account of the founding of the first Churches of God.

… The same system of establishing churches by locality prevails even after the Apostolic period, in the provincial or diocesan churches which were marked out on the basis of the political organisation then prevailing, or of other historical reasons. The congregation of the faithful of each of these churches consisted of Christians of every race and tongue.

… Paradoxically, Church of Greece, Church of Russia, Serbia, Moldavia and so on, or less properly Russian Church, Greek Church etc., mean autocephalous or semi-independent churches within autonomous or semi-independent dominions, with fixed boundaries identical with those of the secular dominions, outside which they have no ecclesiastical jurisdiction. They were composed not on ethnic grounds, but because of a particular situation and do not consist entirely of one race or tongue. Nor has the Orthodox Church never known racial churches of the same faith and independent of one another to co-exist within the same parish, town or country.

… If we examine those canons on which the Church’s government is constructed, we find nowhere in them any trace of racism. (…) Similarly, the canons of the local churches, when considering the formation, union or division of eccesiastical groupings, put forward political reasons or ecclesiastical needs, never racial claims. (…) From all this, it is quite clear that racism finds no recognition in the government and sacred legislation of the Church.

But the racial principle also undermines the sacred governmental system of the Church….

In a racially organised church, the church of the local diocese has no area proper to itself but the ethnic jurisdictions of the supreme ecclesiastical authorities are extended or restricted depending on the ebb and flow of peoples constantly being moved or migrating in groups or individually. … If the racial principal is followed, no diocesan or patriarchal church, no provincial or metropolitan church, no episcopal church, not even a simple parish, whether it be the church of a village, small town or a suburb, can exist with its own proper place or area, containing within it all those of one faith. Is not Christ thus divided, as He was once among the Corinthians, by those who say: “I am for Paul, I am for Apollo, I am for Cephas” (1 Cor. 1:12)?

… (On the need to establish racially based churches, ed.) No Ecumenical council would find it right or in the interests of Christianity as a whole to admit such an ecclesiastical reform to serve the ephemeral idiosyncrasies of human passions and base concerns, because, apart from certainly overthrowing the legislative achievements of so many senior Ecumenical councils, it implies other destructive results, both manifest and potential:

First of all, it introduces a Judaic exclusiveness, whereby the idea of the race is seen a sine qua non of a Christian, particularly in the hierarchical structure. Every non-Greek, for instance, will thus be legally excluded from what will be called the Greek Church and hierarchy, every non-Bulgarian from the Bulgarian Church, and so on. As a Jew, St. Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, could only have been a pastor in one nation, the Jewish. Similarly, S. Cyril and Methodius, being of Greek origin, would not have been accepted among the Slavs. What a loss this would have entailed for the Church!

… Thus the sacred and divine are rendered entirely human, secular interest is placed above spiritual and religious concerns, with each of the racial churches looking after its own. The doctrine of faith in “one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church” receives a mortal blow. If all this occurs, as indeed it has, racism is in open dispute and contradiction with the spirit and teaching of Christ.2″

— Constantinople, 10 August 1872

From: Metropolitan Maximus of Sardes, The Ecumenical Patriarchate in the Orthodox Church, Thessaloniki, 1976, pp. 303-308

9.2. The Bosporus Declaration

The Bosporus Declaration was issued in February 1994 by religious leaders of different faiths gathered in Istanbul, Turkey. It is an authoritative statement on the understanding of some of the world’s leading religions of the conflicts that have struck the former USSR and Yugoslavia.

1.The participants in the Conference of Peace and Tolerance wish to thank the Government of Turkey for the courteous hospitality it has extended to us, an opportunity to pursue deliberations on the vital issues of peace and tolerance. The Conference wishes to recognize the contributions of President Clinton, President Demirel, Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and all the other religious and political leaders who have sent messages of support.

In this declaration we wish specifically to refer to the Berne Declaration of November 26, 1992, which has given us a foundation on which to build. That declaration specifically states that ‘a crime committed in the name of religion is a crime against religion.’ Since November 26, 1992 we have seen many crimes committed in the name of religion and we, the Conference participants, wish to speak out vigourously against them. As recent events have shown, the crimes against humanity continue in Bosnia, in Armenia-Azerbaijan, Georgia and Tadjikistan. The cruelties have continued unchecked and we demand an end to this brutality. We, the undersigned, reject any attempt to corrupt the basic tenets of our Faith by means of false interpretation and unchecked nationalism. We stand firmly against those who violate the sanctity of human life and pursue policies in defiance of moral values. We reject the concept that it is possible to justify one’s actions in any armed conflict in the name of God.

We wish to emphatically remind all the faithful that the scriptures of all three monotheistic religions specifically speak of peace as a supreme value. ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.’ ‘Allah summoned to the abode of peace.’ ‘His ways are the ways of peace.’

2.We reiterate that the war in former Yugoslavia is not a religious war and that appeals and exploitations of religious symbols to further the cause of aggressive nationalism are a betrayal of the universality of religious faith. We emphasize the imperative of freedom of conscience and freedom of religion of every minority. We call for an end to the confiscation, desecration and destruction of houses of worship and of holy and sacred places of whatever religious tradition. We totally abhor and condemn ethnic cleansing and the rape and murder of women and children. We demand the removal of obstacles that prevent humanitarian assistance from reaching those who are suffering. We condemn the use of force in countries of the former Soviet Union. The conflict in Georgia, Armenia-Azerbaijan, and Tadjikistan must be concluded immediately and solutions of the outstanding issues must be found by other means. We recognise that all who are suffering are victims, but single out specifically the most tragic and innocent victims who are the children.

3.We ask our religious communities to embrace children from the areas of conflict in God’s love and to extend all possible assistance to the suffering children, to help them to find spiritual, psychological, and physical healing. We cannot emphasize enough that spiritual nourishment is a paramount requirement; Religious communities must be supported. We also recognise that all the countries suffering from conflict have had a long, dark period of Communism where there was little or no spiritual education. We urge all faiths to redouble their efforts for spiritual guidance for those who were deprived. We wish to recognise also that tension exists within faiths and urge the leaderships of those faiths to bring about peaceful resolutions to the issues which divide them.

4.The conference participants, as all others who have followed these tragic conflicts, observe with horror the forced migrations of refugees. Millions have experienced or are threatened by forcible displacement. Therefore, we call upon all religious faiths to speak out clearly and consistently against these actions. We condemn those who uproot families from their homes, tear children from their parents, divide husband and wife in the name of false nationalisms. We expect all religious leaders to stand fast in the protection of all those threatened by involuntary migration, whatever their religious beliefs or ethnic backgrounds. We demand that all refugees who have left their homes involuntarily be permitted to return with dignity and honour; that the religious communities strengthen their institutions to receive, assist, and protect refugees of whatever faith; that religious and lay relief agencies develop procedures to coordinate their efforts. As long as the conflicts continue we urge all countries to extend temporary asylum to victims, while granting opportunity for refugee status to those who truly seek it; to increase resources for relief; and to work with all who are of good faith for the cessation or hostilities.

5.The participants in the Conference on Peace and Tolerance have agreed unanimously to utterly condemn war and armed conflict; to demand that no hostile acts be perpetrated upon any peaceful group or region in the name of a religious faith; to demand the initiation of constructive dialogues to solve outstanding issues between those of different faiths; and to demand the right to practice one’s religion in freedom and with dignity.

6.We have deliberated carefully and are in agreement that the wanton killing must stop; that those who continue to perpetrate such heinous acts are criminals and that, although we have no weapons of war and no armies for combat, we have a greater strength — the strength of spiritual might. We totally condemn those who commit the brutalities, the killings, the rapes, mutilations, forcible displacement, and inhuman beatings.

7.We, the conference participants, have decided to establish an Appeal of Conscience Conflict Resolution Commission, to deal with ethnic conflicts. The Commission will be made up of representatives from all of the faiths and from all of the countries represented at this conference. The AC Conflict Resolution Commission will be responsible for informing Commission members and recommending ways and means to deal with the scourge of extreme nationalism and ethnic conflict.

— Istanbul, 8 February 1994

Rabbi Arthur Schneier, President, Appeal of Conscience Foundation

His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos I

His Eminence Mehmet Nuri Yilmaz, President of the Office of Religious Affairs of the Republic of Turkey

His Eminence Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, President of the Pontifical Council on Peace and Justice Cor Unum

9.3. Statement on the situation in Armenia-Azerbaijan, 1993

Extracts from the Statement of the peace-making encounter of the heads of religious communities of Armenia and Azerbaijan, gathered through the mediation of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Danilov Monastery, 18 November 1993.

We, the Supreme Patriarch-Catholicos of all Armenians and President of the Supreme religious council of the peoples of the Caucasus and the spiritual head of the Muslims of Azerbaijan, using the high mediation of the Russian Orthodox Church, have discussed the immediate measures that we, responsible religious workers, can and should undertake to save our peoples, to rebuild peace and civilised relations among them.

… We firmly refuse the attempts to represent this conflict as inter-religious. Those who preach hate among religions commit a heavy sin before the all-Highest.

… It is imperative to lead armed forces out of territories that have been occupied by the force of weapons. War should not be waged against the people. All prisoners and hostages that both sides hold should be released. Any form of internationalisation of the conflict, which may have unpredictable consequences, must be firmly countered.

… All these actions can become the basis of negotiations, which should find a peaceful and just resolution of the disagreements. Additionally, this decision should really serve the interests of all inhabitants of the conflict zone, independently of their nationality or confession.

— Danilov Monastery, Moscow, 18 November 1993

9.4 Statements on the events in Russia, October 1993

In October 1993, the tensions between opposing factions in the government of Russia reached a climax in the stand-off around the White House, the seat of the Russian parliament. The following statements of the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church have been taken from a full survey of the mediation attempts of the Russian Orthodox Church during the conflict published by CEC, WCC and the French Protestant Federation in November 1993.

Appeal By the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, Alexy II

Russia is on the brink of the abyss. We now face the choice: we either put an end to the madness or bury all hope of a peaceful future for Russia. It is particularly tragic that today the Russian state is in danger of falling apart. Should that happen, we would be condemned by succeeding generations.

The virtually intolerable confrontations around the White House can degenerate into carnage from one moment to the next. And thus, with tears in my eyes, I appeal to the different parties in the conflict: Let there be no shedding of blood! Do not undertake any act that may disrupt the extremely fragile peace! Do not try to solve the political problems by force! Do not give in to madness! Do not cease to display mutual respect for human dignity! Have the courage not to be influenced by any kind of provocation, no matter how painful and insulting it may be! Be mindful that the present confusion may be exploited by extremists, criminals and quite simply, by evil people.

One shot fired at the White House could lead to disaster, the bloody consequences of which could engulf the entire land. It is for precisely this reason that I call for all peaceful means to be used to diffuse the armed confrontation. At the present complicated moment, it is necessary to show mercy towards everyone. No political objectives should prevent the people inside the White House from being supplied with medicines, food, water and medical attention. It is inadmissible that physical exhaustion should be used to prompt the parties involved into uncontrollable, violent actions.

In the name of the Church, I call upon the opposing parties to engage in dialogue and I offer any form of mediation at this fateful moment. In connection with the events currently taking place, an emergency session of the Holy Synod has been convened.

I call upon all the right-thinking Christians to pray for the salvation of Russia. May even those who have never turned to God in their life now call upon Him. I believe that Lord will give strength to his people and that He will bless his people with peace! (cf. Ps. 28:11)

— Moscow, 29 September 1993

ALEXY II, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia

Statement By the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church

The turmoil into which Russia has been plunged prompts us to raise our voice for the sake of life and peace for our brothers and sisters.

The armed confrontation at the White House in Moscow has generated tension throughout the land. Everyone to whom Russia is dear knows that the present conflict could have disastrous consequences, causing bloodshed or the destruction of the state’s power.

In the present fateful moment, Christ’s holy Church must say to the people: “Take thought! Be mindful of the words of the prophet: ‘… I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live…’ (Deut. 30:19)”.

There is only one honourable way out of the present dangerous impasse: dialogue, based on observance of the rules of law and the renunciation of force. Bloodshed must be avoided under all circumstances. Otherwise, every hope of peace will vanish as bloodshed immediately throws up an unsurmountable barrier between those embroiled in the conflict. We must grasp the fact that no differences of opinion give us the right to behave like enemies towards one another. We are convinced that none of the persons now confronting each other is really the other’s enemy. May each of you be mindful that on the other sides of the barricades are your brothers and sisters, to whom you must be kind. All methods of gross, violent coercion of the will of persons or disregard of their freedom must be rejected as inadmissible. Therefore, no acts should be committed that will lead to chaos in the country’s economic and public life.

We call, above all, for the army and security forces not to be dragged into political disputes. If the army and the public order and security forces are sacrificed to political ambitions, those responsible are committing not only murder, but also suicide. He who first takes recourse to violence will inevitably face defeat and condemnation.

With the power that God has given to us, we officially declare that whoever raises his hand against the defenseless and sheds innocent blood shall be cast forth from the Church and anathemised.

The present turmoil could lead to the greatest disaster of all — the disintegration of Russia’s unity. Therefore, all leaders of the Russian regions must understand one thing: secessions and divisions do not solve local problems. It is impossible to hide from general misfortune behind the walls of one’s own little house. Only together can we overcome the difficulties now facing the people.

We are happy that the Church’s offer of mediation in the present conflict has been well received by the people. We hope that the dialogue now under way will be successful and stress that the churches are ready at all times to assist in the attainment of peace and harmony in State and society.

We urgently call upon the mass media to present an objective and unbiased picture of the country’s political and economic reality. The price of ignorance or error is today too high. Even incomplete information distorts the truth. We are firmly convinced, however, that the mass media should and must serve reconciliation and healing in this conflict, not fuel passions and entrench confrontation.

May our people’s leaders make use of this new opportunity to end the turmoil by peaceful, legitimate and just means. We will, however, pray for peace for the Russian State and people. As of today, fervent prayers will be offered every day in every church for the restoration of peace in our fatherland. The words of Tikhon, the Most Holy Patriarch of All Russia are applicable here: “Rich and poor, scholar and simple folk, old and young, girls and boys, unite and, like the people of Nineveh, put on the penitential robe and pray for God’s bounty, that He may have mercy on Russia and save it.”

May God not turn away from our fatherland! May God save us! May God grant our people peace, well-being and prosperity in all things!

— The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia ALEXY II

Members of the Holy Synod:

The Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine VLADIMIR

The Patriarchal Exarch of All Byelorussia,

The Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk PHILARET

The Metropolitan of St. Petersburg and Ladoga IOANN

The Metropolitan of Krutitsky and Kolomna YUVENALY

President of the Church Office of External Relations, The Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad KIRILL

The Metropolitan of Orenburg and Busuluk LEONTY

The Archbishop of Kaluga and Borovsk KLIMENT

The Bishop of Tver and Kashin VIKTOR

The Bishop of Talinn and Estonia KORNILY

The Bishop of Vladimir and Suzdal EVLOGY

The Bishop of Chimkent and Tselinograd JELEVFERY

The Danilov Monastery, Moscow, 1 October 1993

9.5 Statements on the War in Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1994

Extracts from the Statement of His holiness Patriarch Pavle of Serbia to the participants at the meeting of the WCC Central Committee in Johannesburg, South Africa 20-26/1 1994

… With sad hearts we see how, knowingly or unknowingly, human beings are destroying the laws given us by God, as one robs the other of justice and peace contrary to Christ’s commandment: “In everything do to others what you would have them do to you” (Mt. 7:12). We who live in the Balkans and carry out the Church’s ministry in this region of the world, find ourselves daily confronted with unutterable suffering, and not only among the Serbian people whose spiritual head we are but also among other fraternal peoples, be they of other Christian confessions or of the Muslim religion.

In the messages we have addressed to world public opinion and to our own Yugoslavian public the Holy Synod of bishops and I personally have consistently condemned violence, of whatever kind and by whomever it is used, regardless of religion or nation. The true Christian sees that in these wars little heed is paid to the voices of the religious leaders, so that God’s creatures continue to suffer, and most of all innocent people, children, women and those who are frail, old or sick.

… We do not in any way wish to say that there are no wrong-doers on the Serbian side, just as there are on the side of the other belligerents in this senseless war in which there is and can be no winner, but only misery and humiliation before God and before the world.

— Belgrade, 20 January 1994

Extracts from the Message of the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church

from its extraordinary meeting in Banja Luka, 1-4 November 1994

The Lord will give strength to His people! The Lord will bless His people with peace! (Ps 28:11)

… We are here to give a brotherly kiss of peace to all and send a call for the unconditional ceasing of the insanity of the war and for the establishment of peace and continuation of negotiations. Before God and the people we testify, in our name and in that of our people, to which God has sent and appointed us for the ministry, that we are with all our heart for peace and reconciliation. So, as nobody else desires more bread than the hungry ones, so nobody else desires more peace than those who bleed in the years-long war.

… We request also the leaders of our nation to do everything to establish peace with our up-to-yesterday neighbours, and now adversaries who suffer equally with us. It is dangerous now and illusory to lay the blame upon one another. We must direct our best forces that the conflicts and war be stopped, peace and mutual negotiations be re-established as the only way worthy of men to solve the ensuing problems, according to divine and human justice, for the benefit of both Serbs, Croats and Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We all, as well as the people of good will in the world and the international factors, should employ all our authority and all ethically justified means that the horrors, which threaten the existence of us all, be stopped.

… Raising our voice against further dissemination of evil and hatred among warring peoples of the same tongue, common past and future, we raise also our voice against all divisions and schisms in the Serbian Orthodox nation. Making efforts to establish just peace with our neighbours we should first reconcile with each other. The men of God who for centuries have given an infallible direction for our actions both in peace and war, both in liberty and slavery, expect from us who now represent the Serbian nation and its Church to be worthy of the Orthodox faith and our name; to know how to say and by our own person show that what our Orthodox people should always be: light to the world and salt to the earth; Christ’s sheep among wolves; humans even among non-humans. That the doctrine of the Gospel always be the measure by which we shall measure all our actions, and then the actions of other people: “Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them” (Mt. 7:12) and the words of the Apostle: “Do not return evil for evil or reviling for reviling”; “For it is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God’s will, than for doing wrong” (1 Petr. 3:9, 17).

… Once again we witness before God, before Orthodox and Christian nations, as well as all people of good will: we as pastors and spiritual leaders do not identify ourselves with the authorities on any side of the Drina; but in the same way we cannot separate ourselves from our own our own nation, sinful but belonging to God, in the ecumenical family of nations, but remain with it on the cross on which it is crucified.

… Let us be humans, let us be the people of God, so that the Lord, the Man-lover and Peacemaker, the Saviour of the world, might bless us and all the people with His peace!

— Banja Luka, 1-4 November 1994

Appeal for peace and understanding among all people

Within the general context of the tense contemporary realities, such as those in Bosnia Herzegovina, dominated by violence, chauvinistic nationalism, territorial revisionism, religious fundamentalism, intolerance and fratricidal wars, We, representatives of the two Orthodox families, Eastern and Oriental, Parthenios III, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa, Theoctist, Patriarch of Romania and Shenouda III, Pope and Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, met in Bucharest, during the month of September, 1994, on the occasion of the session of the Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches.

We would like to assert together anew the traditional creed, ethos and vocation of Orthodoxy in respect for all people, as we are all together human beings, created and loved by the same God, bearing indiscriminately the same image of our Creator.

Throughout the past centuries and down to the present day, the Orthodox faithful confessed their faith in Christ, the Lord of peace, and prayed for the peace of the whole world and for goodwill among all people and all nations. They also tried to promote friendship and fraternal cooperation, in full mutual respect, with all the faithful belonging to other Christian Churches or religious faiths, especially of Islam.

On the basis of this centuries-old experience of faith and love, we call from the bottom of our hearts and souls, both our believers and those of the other Christian Churches, as well as the Muslims, to rediscover and follow the path of love, peace, tolerance, goodwill and mutual respect promoted and pursued by our common forerunners.

Moreover, our hope is that, by asserting together the spirit of peace and understanding promoted by our faiths, we could avert and avoid the attempts of some radical groups or political contemporary powers who, eager to dominate, influence and acquire supremacy, strive to reach their goal by using often abusively the religious faith and feeling, in order to divide, tear apart, sow and nurture hatred among people, countries and nations.

Let us pray that the God of peace and love be with us all and help us to live the truth that was revealed to us by our Lord Jesus Christ when He said: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God” (Mt. 5:9).

— Bucharest, September 1994

+Parthenios III, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa

+Theoctist, Patriarch of Romania

+Shenouda III, Pope and Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church

9.6 Statements on the Situation in Kosovo, March 1999

Kosovo Peace and Tolerance — Vienna Declaration

We, the representatives of the Catholic, Islamic and Orthodox communities who have lived in Kosovo for centuries, wish to express our sincere thanks to the Appeal of Conscience Foundation for bringing us together for this unique and important opportunity to deliberate with one another concerning the fates of our peoples. We also wish to thank our generous Austrian hosts for bringing us together in this land of peace and tranquillity, so that we could have thoughtful and fruitful discussions. We are grateful for the personal participation and support of the President of Austria, H.E. Dr. Thomas Klestil, Chancellor Viktor Klima, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Vice Chancellor Wolfgang Schossel, and the encouragement of President of the United States, Bill Clinton, the Secretary General of the United Nations, H.E. Kofi Annan, His Holiness Pope John Paul II, the President of the European Community, Chancellor the Federal Republic of Germany, Gerhard Schroder, the Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Azedin Laraki, His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, His Holiness Patriarch Aleksy II of Moscow and All Russia, the World Council of Churches, and many others.

Further, we pray that the efforts in Paris concerning Kosovo will achieve the peace we are all seeking.

Our delegations have come to Vienna from a troubled region, one that has seen much bloodshed and injustice, and we the emissaries of our faithful, wish to state unequivocally that the war that is now raging in our homeland, where our people are being killed and maimed, and where our homes and places of worship, and our schools and monuments are barbarously being destroyed, is not a war of religions. We state categorically that we are against the killing and destruction, and that we stand for dialogue and negotiation to bring about the peace that God demands of us.

We are proud of our homeland and are tied to it by bonds that reach deep into past generations. We want to bequeath that legacy of pride in Kosovo to future generations. We also know only too well our troubled and tragic history. A history that has all too often pitted differing ethnic and religious communities against each other. We know that past conflicts have left deep scars, have caused unspeakable suffering and have brought forth veritable rivers of blood and tears. We cannot ignore those deep wounds and must grieve for those who have suffered.

Without forgetting our sorrows, however, we want to emphasize to our faithful and to all others in Kosovo that history is recounting the past. No one can change the immutable past. But the future is within our power to influence and direct. In the name of our faithful, we can demand an end to the suffering that has plagued our peoples for so long and call on all to look forward, to change the present era of confrontation to one of cooperation. We, therefore, enjoin all who are wrongly fueling the fires of the bloody conflict now raging in our homeland to stop the killing and destruction and join us in the search for peace through discussions and negotiations.

Although our faiths differ, we maintain that human life is of ultimate value. We all serve God and abide by the commandments He has given us to follow. Therefore, we firmly denounce the killing and all acts of violence. We urge our faithful to solve their disagreements peacefully with those of other religions or ethnic backgrounds, as we have done during our discussions here and in the publication of this declaration.

We pledge that we will bring this message of cooperation home to our faithful, that we will distribute it within our communities, and that we will urge all to lay aside their weapons. Only then, when the weapons are silent and all religious and ethnic communities have the right to express their views through open and free discussions, can we achieve understanding, tolerance, and cooperation and find equitable solutions to our differences.

It is with this in mind that we, the representatives of the Catholic, Islamic, and Orthodox faiths in Kosovo lay down these precepts.

1. Stop the killing and all acts of violence.

2. We call for a verbal cease fire to end the polemics of hate and remind all of the words from Proverbs, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.”

3. In cooperation with the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, establish an on-going interreligious “Conscience Contact Group” to continue the work begun by this Conference and to help advance the principle of “live and let live.”

4. Allow all in Kosovo to live in peace, safety and freedom.

5. Insure safe and unimpeded travel in all areas of Kosovo.

6. Permit all in Kosovo to live, worship and work in the knowledge that their basic human and religious rights will not be violated.

7. Preserve and protect houses of worship as well as religious and cultural monuments of all faiths.

8. Permit all ethnic and religious communions to retain their cultural and linguistic heritage and to freely allow those communities to provide education that will perpetuate that heritage.

9. Establish a viable system in Kosovo, one that reflects the wishes of those who live there without violating the rights of any minority.

10. We demand that all assistance from international humanitarian organizations to those in need in Kosovo be transmitted without hindrance and delay.

We, the undersigned, believe that it is our duty to God and to our faithful to state categorically that all must accept the way of non-violence and cooperation. Only then will there be an end to the killing and to the destruction of our homes and places of worship. We, therefore, demand of those who have resorted to misguided violent means to achieve their goals, to lay aside their arms, to withdraw their engines of terrible destruction, and to seize the initiative we offer from our hearts — cooperation and peace — to bring about a better and more fruitful life for all in Kosovo today, and for all those who will follow.

Rabbi Arthur Schneier, President, Appeal of Conscience Foundation

His Eminence Reverend Marko Sopi, Catholic Bishop of Kosovo

His Eminence Kyr Artemije, Bishop of Raska and Prizren, Kosovo

The Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church

Professor Qemail Morina, Vice Dean, Faculty of Islamic Studies, Pristina, Kosovo

His Excellency Victor Klima, Federal Chancellor of Austria, Witness

Vienna, Austria, March 18, 1999

Peace Appeal of the Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church

The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, meeting at the Patriarchate on March 23, issued the following statement regarding the threats over Kosovo and Metohija and the threatened bombing of Serbia and Yugoslavia:

Human experience, both old and new and most recently in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, shows that war and violence, particularly inter-ethnic, leaves in its wake only chaos and general misery, with long-lasting spiritual, moral and social consequences and unhealed wounds.

Aware of this, in the name of God we demand and beseech that all conflict in Kosovo and Metohija immediately cease, and that the problems there be resolved exclusively by peaceful and political means. The way of non-violence and co-operation is the only way blessed by God in agreement with human and divine moral law and experience. Deeply concerned about the threatened Serbian cradle of Kosovo and Metohija and for all those who live there, and especially by the terrible threats of the world’s armed forced to bomb our Homeland, we would remind the responsible leaders of the international organisations that evil in Kosovo or anywhere else cannot be uprooted by even greater and more immoral evil: the bombing of one small but honourable European people. We cannot believe that the international organisations have become so incapable of devising ways for negotiation and human agreement that they must resort to ways which are dark and demeaning to human and national honour, ways which employ great violence in order to prevent a lesser evil and violence.

We pray the Lord of peace, the living and true God, in whose hands are judgement and justice, to give to all in Kosovo and Metohija, and throughout our Homeland and throughout the world, peace, justice, security in freedom, and to the powerful of the world understanding and wisdom.

— Belgrade, 23 March 1999

Statement of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Albania

With all our hart we share the pain of those who suffer injustice and violence as a result of the Kosovo crisis. This extremely difficult situation can not be resolved by rhetorical and naive declarations. But, while we pray every day ‘for those who hate us and for those who love us,’ we humbly pray the God of truth and love to bring about a miracle and make peace and justice reign once more in our unstable region, as soon as is possible. We have already contributed, within the limits of our forces, to ease the sufferings of the Kosovars who have left their homes because of the conflict and have settled in Albania. And we will continue to work in this direction.

— Tirana, 29 March 1999

9.7. Syndesmos Statements

Declaration of the Syndesmos War and Peace in Europe Seminar

We are the participants in the Syndesmos seminar on Peace and War in Europe, which met at the Cultural Centre of the Holy Metropolis of Kydonia and Apokoronos, Chania, on the Island of Crete, Greece, October 1 to 9, 1994. Throughout our meeting, we were blessed to have the active presence of His eminence Metropolitan Irineos, who led us on pilgrimages to holy monasteries, parishes and shrines of Crete. We were blessed to take part in the annual festivity of St. John the Hermit at Guverneto Monastery, to venerate the Saint’s relics, and to visit the caves where he lived, suffered and fell asleep in the Lord.

We often hear the word “Peace” in our Holy Liturgy. Church members are called to transfigure their lives in the Holy Liturgy so that they will be a witness to the angelic words: “Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth and good will to all people.”

During the days we spent in dialogue the following points were considered significant:

1. We remind ourselves that being a peacemaker is one of the Beatitudes and is connected to all the others. If we disconnect peacemaking from the other Beatitudes, we are not be called peacemakers, as we see in anthropocentric peace movements. To avoid the evils of this world, we suggest that we Orthodox should participate in catechetical formation courses about peace, rooted in the Holy Liturgy and the Tradition of the Fathers.

2. We appeal for strongly-bonded Orthodox co-operation in peace efforts. This includes efforts to overcome divisions that exist among Orthodox Churches. There are wounds in the body of the Church which are not the fault of others but of ourselves. We need to pray in repentance for these wounds to be healed.

3. Inter-Orthodox solidarity can be expressed with the strengthening of our existing Orthodox network of agencies for merciful activities. To ensure better use of available resources and to avoid overlapping assistance to victims of conflict, the Church should seek to cooperate and share information with relief organisations working in the same areas wherever it is possible.

4. We support the efforts of the Serbian Orthodox Church in her struggle to find a peaceful solution for the war in former Yugoslavia as well as justice for her people. We also express dismay at the failure of the World Council of Churches and other ecumenical organisations to see the Serbian Orthodox Church in a way not blinded by prejudice and one-sided press reports. We pray and hope that God will bless all the peoples of former Yugoslavia with peace and mutual respect.

5. Being Orthodox means to be a soldier of Christ, that is someone engaged in the fight against evil. People are not the main instigators of conflict but, when they do not resist evil, become tools in the hands of Satan, who always rejoices whenever those who are made in the image of God shed each other’s blood. The main weapon in our combat with Satan is repentance, which must begin with ourselves. As Hegumen Ephrem of the Monastery of Philotheou, Mount Athos, told our conference: “Everyone who does not truly repent and apply the commandments of God is an enemy of God. How can he make peace? How can he sacrifice himself out of love?”

6. Conflict is not only war but any action that causes innocent people to suffer. While economic sanctions are sometimes described as non-violent, in fact the resulting shortage of medicine and food causes many deaths, especially among the young and aged. This too is a form of war. Humanitarian assistance should not be affected by sanctions against any country.

7. Similarly, the distribution of humanitarian assistance should be practised regardless of the beneficiaries’ convictions or identity, but only the needs of the people.

8. We note that in the European region, many conflicts are occurring in areas where Communism dominated, especially in former Yugoslavia and parts of the former USSR. The collapse of Communism left a void easily filled by new evils. It is not, however, the cause of war but rather its absence that has exposed old unhealed wounds.

9. We wish to express solidarity and concern over the fate of Orthodox minorities in the world, particularly in the Holy Land considering its special place in the hearts of Christians everywhere. We appeal to Orthodox churches in Europe to try to understand the different issues concerning conflicts there, especially those of a religious nature.

— Chania, Crete, October 1-9, 1994

A Cry of World Orthodox Youth Regarding the Kosovo and Methohija Crisis

This text was written by the Albanian and Serbian delegates and unanimously adopted by the Assembly.

‘Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.’

–Mt 5:9

We, the representatives of over 120 Orthodox Youth movements from more than 40 countries worldwide, who have gathered in the XVIth General Assembly of Syndesmos, the World Fellowship of Orthodox Youth, wholeheartedly sympathise with the pain of all those who have suffered injustice and violence in the crisis in Yugoslavia. We also condemn violence, ask for reconciliation and peaceful co-existence, and pray to the God of Truth and Love to perform His miracle so that a just, permanent and peaceful solution can be found for the troubled area of Kosovo and Metohija. We pray that the Lord will enlighten all those who wield power in the whole region, to act with wisdom and seek peace and sincerely to respond to human misery wherever it is found. Noting the close personal interest of His Holiness Pavle, Archbishop of Pec and Patriarch of Serbia, and His Beatitude Anastasios, Archbishop of Tirana and all Albania, we applaud the Orthodox Churches of Serbia and Albania for their efforts in peacemaking and relieving human pain before and during the crisis.

The delegates further ask all sides involved to act quickly to make good the environmental damage in Yugoslavia and the surrounding countries, and to contribute to the work of reconstruction before the onset of winter, so that the destruction of the civilian infrastructure caused by violence will not result in the widespread loss of innocent human lives. We also pray that God will help both the Patriarchate of Serbia and the Autocephalous Church of Albania to continue to respond to the tragedy with compassion and forgiveness.

We finally express our deep sorrow and condemn the destruction of Holy monasteries and churches, as well as mosques and other religious and cultural monuments in the suffering region.

— Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Valamo, Finland, 24 July 1999

Chapter 11: Study and action guide


11.1. Bibliography

The Church and War

Author unknown: The Early Church and the World. A History of the Christian Attitude to Pagan Society and the State down to the Time of Constantinius, Edinburgh 1925

Bainton, R.: Christian Attitudes toward War & Peace, Nashville, TN 1960

Behr-Sigel, E.: Orthodoxy and Peace, in In Communion, Nativity fast 1995

Cadoux, C.: The Early Christian Attitude to War, NY 1982

Caspary, C.: Politics and Exegesis: Origen and the Two Swords. Berkeley, 1979

Christians and the Roman Army: A..D. 173-337, Church History, 43, 1974, pp. 149-163

Deane, H.: The Political and Social Ideas of St. Augustine, New York 1963

Erickson, J.: “The Hermeneutics of Reconciliation. Perspectives from the Orthodox Liturgical Experience,” Reformed Liturgy & Music 30.4 (1996), 196-98.

Harnack, A.: Militia Christi: The Christian Religion and the Military in the First Three Centuries, Philadelphia 1980

Harakas, S., Allen, J. (ed.): “The Morality of War”, in Orthodox Synthesis: The Unity of Theological Thought, Crestwood 1981, pp. 67-94.

Helgeland, J., Daly, R. and Patout Burns, S.: Christians and the Military: The Early Experience, Philadelphia 1985.

Hornus, J-M., It Is Not Lawful for Me to Fight: Early Christian Attitudes Toward War, Violence and the State, Scottdale, PA 1980

“Leaflets of St. Sergius”, nr. 10, 1929 (in Russian) on Orthodoxy and Military Service

Lossky, V.: Seven Days on the Roads of France (in French), Paris 1998

Miller, T., and Nesbitt, J.: Peace and War in Byzantium, Washington DC 1995

Mother Maria (Skobtsova): How War Opens Our Eyes (in Russian), in: Mat’ Maria, Paris 1947

Phan, P.: Social Thought, Vol.20, 1984, Wilmington, Del. 1984

“The Rejection of Military Service by the Early Christians”, Theological Studies, 13, 1952, pp. 1-32.

Swift, L.: The Early Fathers on War and Military Service, Vol.19; 1983

Velimirovic, Bishop Nikolai: War and Religion (in Serbian), Belgrade 195?

Zampaglione, G.: The Idea of Peace in Antiquity, Notre Dame 1973

Orthodox Identity and Nationalism

Berdyayev, N.: Christianity and Anti-semitism (in Russian), Paris 1935

Erickson, J.: The Formation of Orthodox Ecclesial Identity (in print)

Huntington, S.: The Clash of Cultures, in: Foreign Affairs, Volume 72 No.3, Summer 1993

Kepel, G.: The Revenge of God; the Resurgence of Islam, Christianity and Judaism in the Modern World, 1993

Kartachov, A.: The Church and National Identity (in Russian), in Tserkov’, Istoriya, Rossiya (essays). Moscow 1996

Papathomas, Archimandrite Grigorios: Internal Orthodox Church Mission (input at the 1999 Syndesmos Summer Institute) (in print)

Yanaras, C.: “The Challenge of Orthodox Traditionalism,” in Fundamentalism as an Ecumenical Challenge, London n.d.

Church History

Arnold, E.: The Early Christians: a source book on the Witness of the Early Church

Cunningham, A.: The Early Church and the State, Philadelphia 1982

Dennis, G. and Gamillscheg, Das Strategikon des Maurikios, English translation, University of Pennsylvania Press

Goltz, H. (ed.): Survey of the Mediation Attempts of the Russian Orthodox Church During the October 1993 Conflict, Geneva 1993

Kaegi, W. Jr.: Some Thoughts on Byzantine Military Strategy, Brookline, Ma 1983

Meyendorff, Fr. J.: The Byzantine Legacy in the Orthodox Church, Crestwood NY 1982

(on the role of liturgy in maintaining Orthodox ecclesial identity)

Obolensky, D.: The Byzantine Commonwealth, Crestwood, 1971

Regelson, L.: The Tragedy of the Russian Church (in Russian), Moscow 1996

Shavelsky, Fr. G.: Memoirs of the last Protopresbyter of the Russian Army and Fleet (in Russian), Moscow 1996

Skrynnikov, R.: Hierarchs and Authorities (in Russian), Leningrad 1990

Ware, Bishop Kallistos: The Orthodox Church (Baltimore: Penguin Books, n.d.)

Spiritual and Liturgical Texts

The Book of Needs, South Canaan PA, 1987

Gillet, Fr. L.: Serve the Lord with Gladness, Crestwood 1990

St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain and St. Theophan the Recluse: Unseen Warfare, Crestwood 1987

Sophrony (Sakharov), Archimandrite: Saint Silouan the Athonite, Essex 1991

Canonical Texts

Metropolitan Maximus of Sardes: The Ecumenical Patriarchate in the Orthodox Church, Thessaloniki 1976

Papathomas, G.: Course of Canon Law — Appendix VI — Canonical Glossary, (in French) Paris 1995

The Rudder, Chicago 1957

11.2. Useful Addresses

Syndesmos (the World Fellowship of Orthodox Youth)

Eleftheriou Venizelou 59a

Holargos 15562


+30-1: 656-0991; fax +30-1: 656-0992

e-mail: [email protected]


The Orthodox Peace Fellowship

Kanisstraat 5

1811 GJ Alkmaar

The Netherlands

tel 31 72 5112545

fax 31 72 5154180

e-mail: [email protected]


Many useful links to Orthodox Churches, organisations and action groups on

For the Peace From Above — Table of Contents