SOUTHAMPTON, NY – In an interview featured on 27east.com, Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate Father Alexander Karloutsos spoke about the war in Ukraine.
Tom Gogola’s article begins by noting that, “the war in Ukraine may be thousands of miles away, but it hits close to home for Father Alex Karloutsos of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons in Shinnecock Hills.”
Gogola writes that, “Karloutsos is joining his church colleagues in decrying the punishment, he says, of hundreds of Russian-based clergymen in the Russian Orthodox Church who have opposed the war in Ukraine launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin more than a year ago.”
Last week, the Orthodox Public Affairs Committee, also known as OPAC, issued a letter condemning the actions of the pro-Putin Russian Patriarch Kirill, who was born Vladimir Mikhailovich Gundyayev, for defrocking one pro-peace priest and for “substituting the word ‘peace’ for ‘victory’ in Putin-centric prayers mandated by the Russian Orthodox Church hierarchy.”
OPAC noted that, “in recent days, the blessing by a Russian priest of a statue of the greatest persecutor of the Russian Church, Joseph Stalin, only goes to further demonstrate that the Russian Orthodox Church is aligned with autocracy and tyranny in ways that violate the most fundamental teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The article continues:
“The Russian Orthodox Church has been historically delegated as the authority to watch over the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, but as Karloutsos explains, when the political climate between Russian and Ukraine began to deteriorate around 15 years ago, Ukrainian Orthodox Christians sought their own church. As of 2019, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is now independent from the Russian Orthodox Church.
“But many of the Ukrainian bishops still had an allegiance to Patriarch Kirill, ‘who is now a puppet of the Russian government,’ said Karloutsos.”
This means, he added, that the patriarch of Moscow is “blessing weapons that are being used against parishioners who used to be a part of his flock.” Fr. Karloutsos emphasized that the tragedy is all the worse, since if “the religious leadership on both sides had the courage to come forward and be the conscience of the political leadership,” a brutal war could have been avoided.
Karloutsos, about whom the article notes, he “has long been active in the international church and has advised numerous American presidents on spiritual matters; he received a Presidential Freedom Award from President Joe Biden last year,” said that, “they could have worked in love to work out their differences instead of war… But there was no moral voice, definitely on the Russian side. So rather than speaking truth to power, they let power control – and now they bless the weapons that are used against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. That was really devastating.”
United States military aid to Ukraine has been challenged by people like former Fox News host Tucker Carlson and some Republicans in Congress. The conflict in Ukraine, noted Fr. Karloutsos, “is a great deal more nuanced than the ‘inanities’ spouted by Tucker Carlson.”
Fr. Karloutsos has both Russians and Ukrainians in his parish, the Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons, and the article notes that he “preaches a common ground approach steeped in the word of Christ. ‘We pray both for the people of Russia and the people of Ukraine, and for God to enlighten the political and religious leaders,’ he said.”
OPAC also called for “an immediate cessation of Russian aggression and murder, and for there to be a just settlement for the Ukrainian people and church against the Russian government of Putin and his puppet-church under Kirill.”
Fr. Karloutsos also spoke about “an American political climate that many historians have noted is more divided now than at any time since the Civil War, the article noted in conclusion. “When we speak about the reverence for life, it’s the reverence for those living as well. We should be able to engage in dialogue and discussion without hate,” Fr. Karloutsos said, adding, “we need to address that peacefully, but when hate comes into it, it deafens our ears and blinds our eyes, and we become indifferent with each other.”
(Material from 27east.com was used in this report)