How a Russian Orthodox Views U.S. Moves in Wake of Sept. 11

Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad

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MOSCOW, OCT. 5, 2001 ( Orthodox Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, the chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, gave an interview on a Russian TV show “Zercalo.” The Russian Orthodox Church released a translation of the interview, which ZENIT excerpted and adapted below.

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Q: In the present situation, when the world with bated breath is waiting for requital of the international terrorists by the United States and all civilized humanity, what is the attitude of the Russian Orthodox Church?

Metropolitan Kirill: The terrorist actions in the U.S.A. that had taken thousands lives shook the world. To realize the depth of this tragedy, we just for a moment have to put ourselves to the place of those who lived through it.

From the Christian point of view, it is required to restore justice by all possible peaceful means. However, if it is not enough, the answer can be violent. …

When is war considered to be just? According to St. Augustine, war should be declared to restore justice. Only legal power has a right to do it. The right to use power should be given not to individuals or separate groups, but to the representatives of civil authorities established from above. War can be declared only when all peaceful means are exhausted.

War should be declared only when there are good hopes to reach the established aim. Planned losses and destruction should answer the situation and aims of the war; that is, the means used should be proportionate to the aims established. It is required to provide safety of peaceful population. War can be justified only with yearning for restoring peace, justice and order.

Q: Do you think that this moment has come?

Metropolitan Kirill: The United States has the right to re-establish justice by using military means. But if they want their actions to be justified, these actions should be adjusted to the threat appeared.

Military actions should not result in sufferings of peaceful population. If retaliatory attacks results in new wave of confrontation, then the United States will bear responsibility for it.

However, if the military attack is adequate, if those who committed this monstrous crime are punished, then the military actions will keep within the frames of a just war as the Christian tradition defines it. …

Certainly, we, the Orthodox faithful, hope that the Americans will use power only to restore justice.

But now imagine that something like this happens in this country, that some madmen blew up the Kremlin or other places dear to our heart and then the intellectuals abroad and the representatives of the local clergy among them will start saying: “You should wait a bit, because first of all you have to coordinate your actions with the norms of the international law, then you need receive a permission of the U.N. Security Council.”

What would our people feel? The people would be filled with indignation and still they would do anything to punish these criminals.

I think that we should be very careful in our judgments because what happened in America is a tragedy; people want to [respond] and they have a moral right to do it.

At the same time, we should always remember that the answer should de adjust to the threat. It can´t be allowed that the world falls into the gulf of violence. …

Q: This problem has one more aspect, and here the position of the Orthodox Church is extremely important. There are some concerns that the action of requital will be an attack against Muslim world, against the countries confessing one of the world religions, and America or any other country supporting this action is running the risk to set all the Muslim world against it.

Metropolitan Kirill: I should say that there is no religious implication in this situation; I would call it a “civilization conflict.”

Let´s ask ourselves, What is the nature of this terrorist act? When they capture a bus, a school or a hospital, they usually require money, drugs or something else. Sometimes with the help of terrorism, people want to reach some political purposes as it was in Chechnya.

However, after the terrorist attack in America no demands were produced, nobody has taken responsibility for the death of thousands of people. So we can make a conclusion that these attacks were symbolic in a certain way.

Explosions in the American cities were the first act of the beginning “civilization war.” Those who made these terrorist attacks support a definite way of the world order.

Why did they attack the World Trade Center? Because it is a symbol of a new civilization model that pretends to be universal, and the U.S.A. plays the leading part in it.

All the integration processes are being built on the Western liberal values. International organizations including the U.N. are also providing the same ideas. Here there is a clash between the two convictions of what the world should be. …

When President George Bush called these terrorist attacks a fight of evil against good, darkness against light, he showed a very simplified understanding of the current situation.

Surely, we can´t justify the actions of the terrorists, but they fought against [a] monopoly of the Western world, wishing to conquer the monopolistic right for building a new model of world order according to their own example.

Q: If the terrorists fought for their world order against the world order presented and headed by the United States, why should we interfere in the matter?

Metropolitan Kirill: Whether we want it or not, we have to live under a new world order and we have only to regret that we don´t play a leading part in the process of forming it.

Millennial traditions of the Russian world are not considered while building a new model of civilization. Thanks be to God, we are not extremists by nature, but there perhaps could be found some hot heads, wishing to challenge a new world order.

I wish all of us, including Americans, understood that it is impossible to build a mono-polar world. Humanity can´t live according to one standard, no matter what standard it is — Western liberal, Islamic, Catholic or Orthodox.

We can reach balance in the world only if we learn to live together; if one system of civilization values wouldn´t suppress another. Otherwise we´ll never get rid of terrorism and wars. Terrorist attacks in the U.S.A. [show] that people can´t find another way to fight against the order imposed on them. It means it can be repeated. On the other hand, who can guarantee that no political authority or state will come against a new world order pretending to [establish] a monopoly tomorrow?

So only in a multipolar world it is possible to keep the balance of spiritual, cultural, economic and political interests. Humanity can´t live under one civilization standard, no matter how attractive it may seem, because there always are people and nations who will find it unacceptable.

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