Moscow, September 30, 2015
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has expressed hope that Russia's participation in the Syrian conflict will bring peace to the region.
"The Russian Federation has made a responsible decision to use armed forces to defend the people of Syria from the sorrows caused by the arbitrariness of terrorists. We believe this decision will bring peace and justice closer to this ancient land," the patriarch said in a statement quoted by the press service for the Synodal Information Department on Wednesday.
"Wishing peace to the peoples of Syria, Iraq and other countries of the Middle East, we pray for this tough local conflict not to develop into a major war, for the use of force not to lead to the death of civilians, and for all Russian military [personnel] to return home alive," the patriarch said.
He reiterated that the Russian Orthodox Church has more than once called on the administrations of Russia, other countries and international organizations not to ignore the suffering of civilians in Syria and other countries of the region.
"We know about the catastrophic situation that the people who have become the targets of extremists and terrorists are now in, and not from hearsay, but from personal meetings with the religious leaders of the Middle East," the statement says.
The patriarch said Orthodox Christians were deeply saddened by the numerous instances of violence against Christians in the region, abductions and killings of bishops and monks, and the barbaric destruction of ancient temples, adding that "the Muslims of these places, which are holy to representatives of all Abrahamic religions, suffer as well."
"Unfortunately, the political process did not lead to any significant improvement of the situation of these innocent people and they need military protection," the patriarch said.