Following Russia’s rejection of a cease-fire proposal for Holy Week and Easter, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called out Russian President Vladimir Putin, but said that as Easter approaches Ukrainians keep hope that “life will overcome death.”
Eastern Christians — the Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox among them — will celebrate Easter, known there as Pascha, on April 24. Calling Pascha “one of the most joyful and important holidays”, Zelenskyy added that Russia’s rejection of the Easter truce reveals how the Russian leaders treat Christianity.
The World Council of Churches appealed to Russia’s head of the Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, to employ his religious authority to effectuate a cease-fire for celebrating Easter. The United Nations presented the same proposal and was also rejected. Fox News reports:
“Unfortunately, Russia rejected the proposal to establish an Easter truce,” Zelenskyy said in a video Thursday. […]
“This shows very well how the leaders of this state actually treat the Christian faith, one of the most joyful and important holidays,” the Ukrainian president declared. “But we keep our hope. Hope for peace, hope that life will overcome death.” Easter celebrates the day when Christians believe Jesus Christ rose from the dead, three days after His Crucifixion on Good Friday.
“Tomorrow is Good Friday for Eastern Christians,” Zelenskyy noted. He called the holiday “the most sorrowful day of the year a day when everything you can do in life will weigh less than prayer. Except for one [thing]… defending the Homeland, defending brothers-in-arms in battle.”
Civilians, including children, remain trapped in the eastern region of Donbas, where Russian forces began a new fierce offensive, and in the devastated port city of Mariupol. Guterres said earlier Tuesday that more than 12 million people in Ukraine needed humanitarian assistance. He predicted that number would rise to 15.7 million, about 40% of all Ukrainians remaining in the country.
Even China, which has not condemned Russia and abstained from votes on resolutions against the aggressor country, said it supported a humanitarian cease-fire.
Russia’s rejection came after the head of the World Council of Churches reached out to Moscow’s Patriarch Kirill, urging him to use his religious authority as the head of Russia’s Orthodox Church to call for a cease-fire as Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter this weekend.
“Our humble request to your Holiness in this particular and impossible situation is to intervene and ask publicly for a ceasefire for at least a few hours during the Resurrection service,” Rev. Ioan Sauca, a Romanian Orthodox priest and acting general secretary of the World Council of Churches, wrote in a letter published Tuesday.
Sauca also noted that the fighting in World War I “stopped for a moment so that the soldiers could share with one another the Resurrection greeting.”
Most Russians and Ukrainians identify as Eastern Orthodox, as does Putin. Zelenskyy, however, is Jewish.
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