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Letter to Editor

Letter to the Editor: Give Patriarch Bartholomew a Chance to Bring Peace to Ukraine

March 24, 2023

To the Editor:

To the Editor:

It is clear from all media accounts and U.S. military strategists that the War in Ukraine is at a pivot point and  the next few months will see an exponential uptick in the violence, death and destruction of this war.

Russia is reported to be preparing for a major offensive against Ukraine as soon as the weather clears and the roads in Ukraine and Russia dry out enough for the movement of men and armored units. It has been reported that Russia has called up an additional 300,000 conscripts over the past few months. It is doubtful that the Russian military will be able to fully train these new troops to face the onslaught of war.

Ukraine is also reportedly  planning counter offensives and has successfully petitioned for the most advanced tanks the West has, and in great numbers. These are to be delivered on an accelerated basis and Ukrainian tank crews are already being trained in their operation and battlefield tactics by the British and Americans. In the meantime, Russia and Ukraine continue to wage a savage war in different areas of Ukraine.

This conflict is as we have witnessed, the most brutal and savage military engagement in Europe since the Second World War. Millions of Ukrainians have been made refugees, civilian casualties are in the hundreds of thousands and Ukraine and Russia have been reported to have suffered over 100,000 combatant deaths…EACH.

If we thought that this war was horrific and tragic in its human dimensions, things are going to get far WORSE in the coming weeks with these new offensives and counter offensives.

There has been far too little effort at diplomacy to try to work out some kind of ceasefire, let alone a truce and complete end of hostilities. This is inexcusable.
The Parties and their backers have been consumed with warfare and outside of a recent Chinese effort which was rebuffed by the Kremlin, it seems that there is no one of any stature calling on Russia and largely Orthodox Ukraine to STOP.

It is widely believed that the only figure with even the shadow of moral authority to address Ukraine and Russia is Bartholemew, the Patriarch of Constantinople.

Both these countries owe their culture, even their very existence to the Church of Constantinople. Russians and Ukrainians both revere Prince Vladimir of Kiev, who brought Christianity to what would become Ukraine and Russia under the tutelage of The Church of Constantinople.

It is reported that there have recently emerged numerous and deep divisions in Orthodox Church affairs concerning the Orthodox Church in Ukraine and various unrecognized diocese, jurisdictional crises, etc. However disruptive and damaging these may be, they PALE in comparison to what is going to happen in Ukraine and possibly Russia as soon as the weather allows for increased military activity.

Notwithstanding these current ecclesiastical disputes, the Patriarch of Constantinople remains the ONLY figure with a claim to Pan Orthodox pre-eminence and by extension, Pan Slavic authority, (paradoxically as as a Greek and non-Slav).

Given the current situation and in the face of ramped up hostilities powered by new and even more powerful weapons wherein untold destruction will be visited on the lives of potentially millions of human lives, Orthodox lives, the Patriarch must use his unique position and authority to  attempt to get these leaders to sit down, face each other, and talk. The lives of hundreds of thousands of largely innocent people hang in the balance.

Another reason for summoning the authoritative voice of the Patriarch to this crisis is that even if he is unsuccessful, this effort will enhance the stature and visibility of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Diplomatic efforts swirl over and around the Patriarchate; Secretary of State Tony Blinken was recently in Turkey speaking with President Erdogan about NATO expansion, sanctions against Russia and other matters relating to the Ukraine war. President Biden visited Kyiv, meeting with Zelensky and stayed in Poland for three days and Chinese Prime Minister Xi Jinping is currently visiting the Kremlin.

The Patriarch has already enhanced the reputation of his office by speaking with compelling concern regarding the global environment. The Patriarchate cannot afford to be a bystander to these earth shattering events now unfolding in Ukraine

However, the main impetus for the Patriarch’s efforts remains to halt the untold carnage and devastation which the next few months are sure to bring. Hundreds of thousands of lives in Ukraine and Russia depend on a cessation of hostilities.

The Patriarch MUST try to intervene in this crisis and speak with the voice and authority his position  affords him to derail this juggernaut of death. We must ALL try.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Gospel of Matthew 5:9.

 

Paul J. Kutscera, Esq.

Bayside, NY

 

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