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Russian Orthodox Church: Ukraine

Volume 716: debated on Thursday 23 June 2022

8. What discussions representatives of the Church have had with their counterparts in the Russian Orthodox Church on the conflict in Ukraine. (900668)

The Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken frankly with Patriarch Kirill during the invasion. The Church of England has chaplaincies in both Russia and Ukraine, and will continue to foster dialogue in the pursuit of peace.

Last week, the Foreign Office sanctioned the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. What steps can the Church of England take to try to persuade the Russian Orthodox Church that it is wrong to back Putin and this barbarous war?

The Church Commissioners and our pensions board were some of the first institutions to take all practical steps to withdraw from their direct investments in Russia. The Church of England remains committed to a ministry of reconciliation based on love and truth, and will continue to reach out—for example, through the chaplain of St Andrew’s Anglican Church in Moscow, who is the Archbishop of Canterbury’s representative to the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia.

The conflict in Ukraine has highlighted the importance of many freedoms, including the freedom of religion or belief. I am very pleased that Ukraine will be represented at the conference on freedom of religion or belief here in July. What, in my hon. Friend’s opinion, would be a successful outcome to the conference for delegates such as those from Ukraine and elsewhere, where freedom of religion or belief is being violated or denied?

It is a really important question. The bottom line must be a reduction in global persecution, which is going up, not down. Presidents and Prime Ministers need to prioritise this issue. We need better co-ordination with civil society. We need freedom of religion or belief in education and we want young freedom of religion or belief ambassadors.