Anglican leaders call for withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine

The primates called the plight of refugees, migrants and displaced people "one of the major tragedies of our time".(Photo: MSNBC)

Anglican leaders worldwide have condemned the war in Ukraine and called for an "immediate" ceasefire and withdrawal of Russian troops. 

The call came at the end of the Primates' Meeting held in the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury in London and attended by leaders from across the Anglican Communion. 

"We are particularly aware of the humanitarian crisis and other catastrophic effects of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. We call for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine," the primates said.

"We know, from our experience in the different parts of the world we are from, that conflict causes lasting damage. The longer a war goes on, the longer it takes to heal shattered relationships and bring about reconciliation."

The war in Ukraine was just one of several issues of concern outlined in a joint communiqué in which the primates said it was "a time of turmoil" for the world. 

Other areas of concern included climate change, Pakistan's blasphemy laws, the soaring cost of basic necessities, and conflicts in other parts of the world, including Afghanistan, Eritrea, Yemen, Syria and the Holy Land. 

The Church leaders expressed regret that so many people have had to flee their homes as a result of fighting, and called the plight of refugees, migrants and displaced people "one of the major tragedies of our time". 

"We pray for peace and urge those with the ability to do so to bring about justice, sanctuary, and reconciliation," they added. 

The primates described the "post-covid and war-generated rise in prices of basic necessities" as being of "great concern", especially for the poor.

"We are alarmed by increasing levels of hunger in the world," they said.

"Eating is a human right and it is a Christian duty to ensure that all are fed.

"We call on governments and civil society organisations around the world to prioritise food security and distribution to ensure that all have access to food. The need is urgent. Hungry people can't wait."

The primates had been due to meet in Rome but Covid travel regulations forced the meeting to be relocated to London. 

In total, 31 primates from across 42 provinces met in London, with a further nine participating online due to Covid travel restrictions.

Elsewhere in their statement, the primates called for an end to destructive mining and logging in the Amazon, and expressed alarm at the "worsening disaster of climate change" and its effect on millions of people.

"Environmental damage affects the most vulnerable people in the world, including indigenous peoples who are affected by the exploitation of forests and others natural resources," the primates said.

The Pakistani government was urged to reform the country's blasphemy laws, which the primates said were being abused "to defend malicious prosecutions, beatings, and the forced conversion and 'marriages' of young girls". 

The statement also included a message of support for the Diocese of Egypt and the Archbishop of Alexandria, who the primates said are continuing to resist attempts to be forcibly subsumed by a Protestant group. 

"We reiterate that the Episcopal / Anglican Province of Alexandria, spread across 10 countries in North Africa and the Horn of Africa, is a full member Church of the Anglican Communion", the primates said.

"The Diocese of Egypt is an integral constituent part of this Church. We stand with Archbishop Samy Fawzy Shehata and support him and the Diocese of Egypt in their efforts to maintain the legal recognition in Egypt of the Episcopal / Anglican Province of Alexandria."