Christians affected by the wound of the war in Ukraine

This is the scandal of a conflict involving peoples sharing the same baptism: faith and religious tradition can never be taken for granted and taken for granted.

Andrea Tornielli

We are approaching the ninth month since the start of Russia’s horrific war of aggression against Ukraine. Nine months is the time during which a human life takes shape in the womb and then comes to light, but in Ukraine this gestation was not a gestation of life, but only of death, hatred, of devastation.

There is one aspect of this war that is not always remembered: it is a conflict involving two peoples belonging to the same faith in Christ and the same baptism. Christianity in this geographical area is associated with the Baptism of Rus’, completed in 988 when Vladimir the Great wanted his family and the people of kyiv to receive the sacrament in the waters of the Dnieper. Russian and Ukrainian Christians share the same divine liturgy and spirituality as the Eastern churches.

Today, we tend to hide this common belonging of the faith and the liturgical tradition for reasons linked to war propaganda: when we fight, when we kill, we must forget the face and the humanity of the other, as the prophet of peace Don Tonino Bello reminded us. And you must even forget that the other has the same baptism as you.

The fact that it was a war between Christians that broke out in the heart of Europe makes the wound even more painful for the disciples of Jesus. It is not a question of a conflict to be classified in the convenient scheme of “clash of civilizations“, a theory that became famous after the Islamist attacks of September 11, 2001 to mark the differences between “we” and “them“. No, here the attackers read the same gospel as the attacked.

The consternation caused by this observation leads us to reflect on the path that the message of the Gospel must still travel to penetrate the hearts of Christians and permeate their culture, in order to incarnate the example of Jesus who, in Gethsemane, ordered Peter to put the sword back in its scabbard. It could even encourage people to rise to the judging and reassuring pulpit of those who want to mark the difference between “ourChristianity and that of the warmongers who mix holy icons with the flags of soldiers, justifying aggression and violence with religious speeches, as we did until the day before yesterday and as some might want to do today’ today.

But this attitude would only be a convenient escape for us, a form of self-absolution so as not to keep open the wound generated by this war.

On the contrary, the current conflict in Ukraine teaches us that belonging to a common tradition, recalling an identity and a culture stemming from the same evangelical proclamation, are not enough to preserve us from the slide into the barbarism of violence, hatred and deadly war.

Keeping the wound open therefore means remembering every day that our faith and our religious traditions can never be taken for granted, for granted. It means remembering that we can only act as Christians by grace, not by tradition or culture. It means remembering the words of Jesus: “Without me you can do nothingto become humble beggars again for the Lord who is alive and present today, and for his peace.

Christians affected by the wound of the war in Ukraine – Vatican News