Letter to the Russian Orthodox Church

Letter of Peace and Justice

H.H. Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia        Lojo, Finland, November 4, 2022


Russian Orthodox Church

(Moscow Patriarchate)

Your Holiness,

we bring you greetings from liturgists, musicians and theologians from all the Nordic countries, gathered in Lojo, Finland, for our 2022 Leitourgia conference with the theme ”East meets West”. 

Most of all we bring you greetings of Peace and Justice as we pray for Peace and Justice  in the war between Russia and Ukraine. Since February 24, 2022 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a sovereign and independent state according to international law, we have lived with the grief that two mainly Orthodox countries are experiencing the terror of war. The war has broken the baptismal unity between the believers in the two countries. War crimes have been executed by Russia. The worldwide Church of Christ laments and prays for the deepest bonds between two sister people to be healed. We therefore ask you, your Holiness, to immediately condemn the war and to restore the integrity of the Russian Orthodox Church, to become a witness of Peace and Justice.

During this conference we have reflected upon the words of pope John Paul II in the letter on ecumenism from 1995, Ut unum sint, #54:

”54. The other event which I am pleased to recall is the celebration of the Millennium of the Baptism of Rus’ (988-1988). The Catholic Church, and this Apostolic See in particular, desired to take part in the Jubilee celebrations and also sought to emphasize that the Baptism conferred on Saint Vladimir in Kiev was a key event in the evangelization of the world. The great Slav nations of Eastern Europe owe their faith to this event, as do the peoples living beyond the Ural Mountains and as far as Alaska.

In this perspective an expression which I have frequently employed finds its deepest meaning: the Church must breathe with her two lungs! In the first millennium of the history of Christianity, this expression refers primarily to the relationship between Byzantium and Rome. From the time of the Baptism of Rus’ it comes to have an even wider application: evangelization spread to a much vaster area, so that it now includes the entire Church. If we then consider that the salvific event which took place on the banks of the Dnieper goes back to a time when the Church in the East and the Church in the West were not divided, we understand clearly that the vision of the full communion to be sought is that of unity in legitimate diversity. —-”

When we reflect and pray upon these words, we are well aware of that the commemoration in 1888 was also celebrated in Korsun, Crimea. We pray that unity in diversity may be restored between the East and the West, but also between the East and the East. It is obvious that pope John Paul II recognized the special role of the East in the salvation of the world. Our prayer is that the Churches in the West and in the East may once again become flames of Peace and winds of Justice.

Today the ecological catastrophe, the climate crisis and nuclear weapons, threaten life on Earth. In this situation we need the lung of the East even more for coming into the right relationship to one another, to our Creator and the entire Creation. 

We cannot breath just with one lung. And we cannot breath with violated lungs. We cannot wait for the lungs of the East and the West to breath in harmony again.

We continue to pray with you and for you in this difficult time of the Orthodox Churches in Russia and Ukraine, and in this difficult time of humankind.

In the name of the Triune God,

Participants in the November 1-4, 2022,  Nordic Leitourgia Conference 

”East meets West”  in Lojo, Finland

Rev. Dr. Anna Karin Hammar