ASIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Patriarch of Moscow: "the fight against terrorism is a holy war"

Wednesday, 11 May 2016 oriental churches

Moscow (Agenzia Fides) - "Today the fight against terrorism is a holy war". This the strong formula used by Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, to support the need for a joint mobilization of the international community against a phenomenon which he presented as a global evil. The expression, together with explicit references to the Russian military intervention in the Syrian conflict, was used by the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church on the occasion of a ceremony held to commemorate the fallen Russians of World War II, on Friday, May 6th.
"Now that our warriors are fighting in the Middle East", said Kirill, as reported by Russian media, "we know that it's not aggression, not occupation, not the forcing of our ideologies on anyone, not support of certain governments". Rather, it is a battle "against a horrible enemy who carries in himself evil not only to the Middle East, but also to the entire human race. "Today", added Kirill "we call this evil terrorism", and "for this reason, the fight against terrorism is a holy war".
The Head of the Russian Orthodoxy also confessed to pray to God "that all people worldwide will understand it, so that no one divided terrorists into good and bad and no one should link the achievement of their goals, which are often not declared, but are really strongly present in political ideas". "We" - added Patriarch Kirill - "pray for the Armed Forces of our Fatherland to follow the spiritual line that envisages the involvement of the Armed Forces only in the fight against evil, in the fight for justice, for rescuing people's lives, under any circumstances "
It is not the first time that Patriarch Kirill uses the formula of "holy war" referring it to the Russian intervention against the Islamic State and other jihadist groups. In the past, similar stances from the Patriarchate of Moscow attracted unfavorable comment on behalf of Middle Eastern Bishops. In October 2015, Syrian Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo, head of the Syriac Catholic archdiocese in Hassaké-Nisibis, in a conversation with Agenzia Fides criticized formulas of the kind used by clerics "who do not live in the Middle East, and often apply political or ideological interpretations to the suffering of Middle Eastern Christians" (see Fides 13/10/2015). According to the Syriac Catholic Archbishop, providing religious justifications for military operations against the jihadists was wrong and misleading for several reasons: "Speaking of 'Holy' War" - pointed out on that occasion Mgr. Hindo - "are the jihadists themselves. If we use their own words, what is the difference between us and them? With such expressions one ends up confirming their bloody ideology: if indeed there is an ongoing Holy War, they can better justify every wickedness also against the Christians here, persecuting them as a fifth column of the enemy who attacks them". (GV) (Agenzia Fides 11/05/2016)

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