On March 4 in Melbourne we met again to pray for and to support Ukraine. While we always pray for Ukraine, it looks like we will need to publicly support Ukraine for a long time yet.
Ukraine needs God’s blessing. It needs the support and understanding of Australia. It needs the support of all nations and people of goodwill in this world.
There are a few things we should be clear about with the situation in Crimea.
First of all, it has nothing to do with God. God does not stand for tyranny, invasion of foreign lands, the oppression of people, and putting the interest of certain people above the interest of others.
The situation has nothing to do with the church. Parts of Putin’s own church are condemning this as a shameful act of aggression and are calling on him to stop and to remember what he may have learnt in his own religious education.
But as head of the KGB in the old Soviet Union, he worked hard to suppress churches and religious freedom. Members of the Australian Russian community are offering their support to Ukrainians and are expressing their disgust at Putin’s actions.
This situation has nothing to do with international law or justice or democracy. On the contrary, it is being condemned as being illegal, immoral, and contrary to the behaviour of any civilized government.
What this invasion of Crimea is about has unfortunately been seen too often in the recent history in our world.
In 1938 Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia because there was a sizeable German population there. It happened in the former Yugoslavia. It happened in Georgia. It has happened again as we stand here.
Ukraine is a long suffering and often oppressed nation where its language, faith, culture, and identity are always under attack. We pray for a world where we all can tolerate each other and learn to live in peace.
There was already too much blood shed in Ukraine. The blood shed has stopped and no Ukrainians are shooting or attacking other people. This means that Ukrainians are God fearing, peace loving people and not fascists as political spin doctors are insinuating.
When Ukrainians stand up for their democratic rights they are called dangerous fascists, whereas the invaders insist on calling themselves heroes and saviours with a God given right to oppress and suppress anyone of their choice.
There are Ukrainians and Russians and people of other nationalities in most countries of the world. We must pray and work together to live in harmony, and not count on force and occupation to solve our problems and to take care of one ethnic group at the cost of all other groups who are present.
We believe there is enough of God’s grace and strength in us to solve our problems without having to resort to occupation and dominance and the favouritism of one ethnic group over others.
Let us prayer that we may recognize the fact that we are all God’s children and that we have the talents and strength within ourselves to solve our problems.
God Bless Ukraine!
Bishop Peter Stasiuk
4th March 2014