Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Druze leaders gathered in Jerusalem on Monday to publicly call for peace in Ukraine and an end to the ongoing war.
The religious leaders came from around the Holy Land to take part in the interfaith gathering, which was held at Moscow Square near the Russian Orthodox Cathedral. Speakers included His Beatitude the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Sheikh Hassan Abu Galion, and Rabbi David Rosen.
“The main purpose of this event is to express our solidarity, prayer, and unity with the people of Ukraine,” Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, related to The Media Line. “We are not against anyone, but the images that we are seeing from the media are terrible and not justifiable. We have to express our solidarity. I hope and pray that all the religious leaders in Ukraine and Russia will contribute to the solution of this terrible situation.”
After giving speeches, religious leaders held an inter-religious prayer and called on the Russian Patriarch Kirill to leverage his position as the head of the Russian Orthodox Church to help bring peace.
“We came to the holiest place in the world where all religions are present and coexist in peace,” Sheikh Hassan Abu Galion of Rahat told The Media Line. “We call on global powers to make peace for the sake of children and women.”
“We recite a holy call on behalf of hundreds of millions of believers around the world to stop the killing in Ukraine,” said Rabbi Rasson Arousi, speaking on behalf of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor shall they learn war anymore.”
Once the gathering ended, the group posted a letter addressed to the Patriarch Kirill on the wall of the nearby Russian Orthodox Church, known as the Holy Trinity Cathedral.
Signed by 150 local and international religious leaders, the letter calls on Kirill to support a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
“We are saddened to see the fighting, which primarily pits Orthodox Christians against each other,” the letter read. “The conflict also poses a much wider risk of destruction beyond Ukraine, including the very real threat of a nuclear accident and a larger conflict between nuclear-armed powers, which we know God wants us to avoid at all costs.
“In light of your connection to President Vladimir Putin, we call on you to request that he take immediate steps to de-escalate the conflict, and seek a peaceful resolution to it,” it said.
Monday’s gathering was organized by the Jerusalem-based Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development as well as the Elijah Interfaith Institute.
“Religion has something to do with the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and religion needs to be part of the solution,” Rabbi Yonatan Neril, director of the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, told The Media Line. “It’s important that political leaders work to resolve this conflict, but it’s also important that religion get on board in promoting peace and that’s what this event is about.”