Justice and War in Ukraine—Part III: The Crucial Religious Dimension, by Phil Lawler

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Altar of St Athanasius Constantinopolitan, Thamaturge and Healer, buried in Mgar Saviorâ??s Transfiguration monastery near Lubny in Eastern Ukraine.

By Phil Lawler, Catholic Culture, April 01, 2022

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org.

In recent columns I have suggested that in order to form a balanced moral perspective on the war in Ukraine, we should understand:

  1. the sober moral reasoning demanded by the just-war tradition, and the need to think dispassionately about the issues at stake; and

  2. the Russian view of the issues—since even if we condemn the invasion we must understand what provoked it.

In this third and final installment, I want to explore a dimension of the conflict that too many analysts have overlooked: the religious dimension.

“The Russian Orthodox Church has taken an active role in forging the ideology that undergirds Mr. Putin’s geopolitical ambitions,” reported the Wall Street Journal, in one of the rare media examinations of this key issue. “It is a worldview that holds the Kremlin to be the defender of Russia’s Christian civilization…” That Journal analysis went on to quote Vladimir Putin saying, just a few days before he launched his offensive, that Ukraine “is an inalienable part of our own history, culture, and spiritual space.” …