Moscow, July 27, Interfax - On the eve of the celebration of the 1000th anniversary since the death of Grand Prince St. Vladimir the Great, Patriarch Kirill has appealed to the presidents of Russia and Ukraine by writing letters of the same content, expressing his deep concern over the events in eastern Ukraine.
"The peace agreements reached in Minsk put the conflict escalation on hold and instilled hopes of a full ceasefire between combatants. Unfortunately, the hostilities have continued to this day, albeit not on the previous scale. Blood is being shed and people are dying in Ukraine," the patriarch wrote in the appeal issued in Moscow on Monday.
In his message, the Church leader dwelt on the fate of the people living in the conflict zone.
"The elderly, children and the disabled are particularly vulnerable. Not everyone has the strength and an opportunity to leave their homes. Unfortunately, not everyone survives in these horrible conditions. Some die under shelling, others from starvation and illness, from the lack of medications and basic living conditions," the patriarch wrote.
The Russian Church provides whatever help it can to the victims on both sides of the conflict, the patriarch said. People in every Orthodox church "are making fervent prayers to God for the return of peace," and Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev and All Ukraine and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church led by him have been doing "all they can to reconcile and restore the unity of the people."
At the same time, the Russian Church leader said that the only way to ensure safety for the civilian population of the region is "by a full cessation of hostilities, strict compliance with the Minsk agreements and the launch of a direct dialogue between all parties in the conflict."
In the days when the Russian Church honors the memory of the "Baptizer of the Holy Rus, who laid down the foundations of the spiritual unity between the Russian and Ukrainian people, who taught us Christian love and forgiveness," the patriarch "with an aching heart and on behalf of the entire Russian Orthodox Church" asks the presidents of Russia and Ukraine "to do their utmost to stop the bloodshed."