March 2022

Yes, let us bury war.

Though now retired, I was in the course of my life, first, a priest in south Lebanon, in dialogue with all denominations, then a metropolitan bishop in the Holy Land, sometimes amidst conflict between Israelis and Palestinians; lastly a patriarch, living through the scourge of war on Syria; I also experienced the horrors of civil war in Lebanon.

So, on the basis of my friendship with Russian and Ukrainian Churches and having experienced something of the tragedies of war, I appeal to my brothers in Russia, where there is the largest Orthodox Church in the Christian world, and to my brothers in Ukraine, where there is also a large Orthodox Church and a Greek Catholic Church in communion with the Church of Rome, saying, “Bury war, the God of war, and weapons of all kinds,” as this conflict unfolds from one day to the next, bringing calamities and destruction, thousands of victims and tragedies.

Yes, let us bury war, instead of burying war victims in their thousands, as we hear on the news.

For my brothers and sisters in Russia and Ukraine, political and military leaders, ministers and members of parliament, yes, bury war. Listen to the voice of your Christian faith and the words of the Gospel of Christ, inviting you to peace and reconciliation, dialogue and fellowship, friendship and co-operation, in order to build up your homelands that are dear to us all, especially here in the Arab Mashreq, and replace the logic of war, hostility, bullying, murder, destruction and revenge with building together the civilization of the Gospel of Christ, the civilization of our sacred Orthodox and Catholic faith, of love, peace and a better future for our rising generations.

From the perspective of our Christian faith, I invite everyone to raise prayers and supplications, as we all begin Great and Holy Lent, that God may keep the hearts and minds of officials in Russia and Ukraine, (and also the leaders of the Arab world) far from the logic of war but rather stop it and bury it, as we sing in the Arabic carol, “On the night of Christmas … hatred will vanish, the earth blooms, war is buried, love is born.”

Gregorios III
Patriarch Emeritus