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Bishop Robert follows his visit to Moscow with a speech to General Synod about Ukraine

Bishop Robert completed a very successful 4-day pastoral visit to Moscow last week and travelled immediately to York for the General Synod.  Informed by his visit, he had the opportunity to address the Synod in the debate on the war in Ukraine.  

The highlight of the visit to Moscow was the confirmation service for 12 members of the congregation at St Andrew’s.  Six candidates were Russian.  Bishop Robert also visited senior staff at the British Embassy and was invited to meet Fr Stefan Secretary for Inter-Christian relations Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church. Here he stressed the importance of good fraternal relations and maintenance of dialogue, agreed on the importance of using language carefully and shared our longing for peace and reconciliation in Ukraine.   You can read in more detail about the visit here

Addressing the General Synod on Monday Bishop Robert ‘unhesitatingly condemned’ the war and also warned against the ‘demonisation’ of the Russian people in the face of the actions by the Russian regime. 

He told the Synod: “We surely all want to condemn the illegal and unjustifiable actions of the Russian regime in Ukraine. But that cannot and must not mean the demonisation of Russian people or Russian culture or our brothers and sisters in the Russian Orthodox church.  

We are in an extremely delicate and dangerous point in European history, it is imperative that we find ways of keeping dialogue with Russian people and the Russian Orthodox Church open.  

As a Church, we must hold the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church to account, unhesitatingly condemn Russian leadership aggression and at the same time, be very careful, in our actions and words, of feeding into a narrative that the Russian regime itself propagates, and which can only undermine the cause of peace and reconciliation.” 

Bishop Robert took the opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to the appeal organised by USPG and the Diocese in Europe which has now raised more than £300,000 for humanitarian work in Ukraine and amongst Ukrainian refugees. He drew Synod’s attention to the needs and the anxiety felt in the Diocese not only in Moscow and Kyiv but significantly also by those in frontline states bordering Russia such as Finland, Latvia and Estonia.

You can hear the full speech here. 

Following Bishop Robert’s speech to Synod, a vote in favour of condemning the Russian invasion was passed. Full details are here