The head of the Russian Orthodox Church has reportedly described the fight against terrorism as a “holy war.”
Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill’s comments came during a religious service Friday marking the feast of the patron saint of Moscow and the Russian military, St. George, reports Spanish news agency EFE.
“Today, when our warriors take part in combat operations in the Middle East, we know that this is not an aggression, occupation or an attempt to impose some ideology on other people, this has nothing to do with supporting certain governments,” the Orthodox leader reportedly said during mass held at World War II memorial in Moscow, referring to Russia’s military intervention in Syria. “This is the fight against the fearsome foe that is currently not only spreading evil through the Middle East but also threatening the whole of mankind.”
“Today, we call this evil terrorism,” he added.
The state-controlled news agency Russia Today (RT) reports that Kirill also noted that terrorists were killing innocent civilians in an effort to intimidate their opponents and to defeat anyone who resists their ideology, resulting in a high number of casualties and human suffering.
“This is why the war on terrorism today is the holy war today. I pray to God that people all over the world understand this and stop dividing terrorists into good and bad ones as well as connecting the war on terror with their own goals, that are often non-declared yet strongly present on the political agenda,” declared the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, according to RT.
“Let us pray that our nation’s armed forces always and in all circumstances remain faithful to the spiritual principle guiding their participation only in the fight against evil, the fight for justice, and the protection of human life,” added Patriarch Kirill, EFE reports.
The translation of the patriarch’s comments from Russian into English by EFE and RT vary.
Although Russia has maintained that its military force in Syria is primarily combating the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), evidence shows that the Kremlin has mainly targeted groups fighting against its ally, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, including some who are backed by the United States.
Patriarch Kirill also referred to the Great Patriotic War, Russia’s name for WWII, as a holy war because Russian soldiers were fighting to defend their people against “a crafty and cruel foe,” notes EFE.
RT quotes the chief foreign spokesman of the Russian Orthodox Church as telling reporters in February “that global leaders should overcome political dissent and unite in fighting international terrorism as the challenge to mankind at large.”