4 September 2022, Karlsruhe, Germany: Prof. Dr Heinrich Bedford-Strohm at the ecumenical service in the Roman Catholic Church of St. Stephan in Karlsruhe, Germany, preaching on the WCC assembly theme "Christ's Love Moves the World to Reconciliation and Unity."


In view of the ever-increasing number of victims, in view of the vast sums that are being poured into destruction by financing this war, whether in reprehensible acts of aggression or in legitimate defence efforts, it worries me greatly that for the most part, only possible military solutions are being discussed,” he said. The common desire to finally put an end to suffering unites all positions.”

No one advocates enthusiasm for war or even militarism, he added. There is a clear understanding that violence never creates peace, but can at best reopen spaces where it can develop,” he said. Can the world – as the very urgent question has it – allow an autocrat who lives in his own world, misleads his people with all available propagandistic means, and on this basis wages an unscrupulous war of aggression in violation of international law, to get what he wants in the end?”

Questions about ethically responsible options must be urgently asked, said Bedford-Strohm. The Russian Orthodox Church is the largest member church of the World Council of Churches,” he noted. Thus, it is also represented in all bodies and votes on public statements.”

He further notes that this is why the statement "War in Ukraine, Peace and Justice in the European Region” of the WCC 11th Assembly, is particularly remarkable. The Russian Orthodox delegates also supported it,” he said. The statement, adopted without dissenting votes, speaks of the prayers focused on the people of Ukraine and the country, and of the tragic consequences they have suffered and are still suffering since the Russian invasion on 24 February 2022, in addition to the thousands of casualties including many civilians in the East of the country and hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced people since 2014.’ ”

In the meantime, there have been many unofficial discussions between the churches, he said. We do not only want to pray, but also to do our part to overcome the violence,” he said. If only to prevent future violent conflicts, the churches must repeatedly address the absurdity of the distribution of resources between expenditures for armaments and expenditures for human development.”

Every human being deserves protection from brutal military force, Bedford-Strohm reiterated. But no less reliably, each person deserves the protection of their life by the means necessary to meet their basic needs, such as food and medicine, so that they can live a life in dignity,” he said.

Full text of the lecture by Bishop Dr Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, "Just Peace through Military Force? Peace Ethical Considerations in Light of the War of Aggression against Ukraine"