Coptic pope laments Ukraine war in Orthodox Easter address, stops short of condemning Russia

Coptic pope laments Ukraine war in Orthodox Easter address, stops short of condemning Russia
Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria was less vocal than other Christian leaders in the Middle East in his condemnation of Russia's actions in Ukraine.
2 min read
24 April, 2022
The Coptic pope has avoided calling Russia's actions in Ukraine an invasion [Getty]

Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria lamented the war in Ukraine in his Easter sermon on Sunday, without addressing Russian aggression directly. 

“Humanity had only just recovered from the trauma of the pandemic before launching into destructive war between Russia and Ukraine, which has destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure,” said the Coptic pontiff. 

“The war has caused dangerous price rises in many countries, while local currencies struggle against the dollar and energy costs continue to spike,” he continued. 

The pontiff has previously skirted around calling Russia's events in Ukraine an all-out invasion, instead describing it as a "war between sister countries.”

Putin has met with Pope Tawadros during previous state visits to Egypt, with the two making warm comments about improving relations between the two states.

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But other Christian figureheads from the Middle East have not minced their words on the war, directly condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

“Putin thinks he’s the emperor of our times. Power can get you drunk," Eastern Orthodox patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria and All Africa said in March. 

“The great authoritarian power blinds the eyes and you forget that you are human. It is not possible to cross yourself, pray to God, and at the same time kill children and people in general”.

Similarly, patriarch Bartholemew of Constantinople in Turkey told CNN Turk at the start of the invasion: “The whole world is against Russia. We are entering a new era of Cold War.” 

“We upset our Russian brothers, but this had to happen,” said the patriarch. 

On Saturday, Orthodox Christians were physically harassed and blocked from entering the Church of the Resurrection in occupied Jerusalem, despite a successful battle in the Israeli supreme court by religious institutions. 

Israel’s actions were condemned by Roman and Greek Orthodox archbishops in Jerusalem but other Christian figureheads were notably silent. 

Despite having celebrated Easter at the Church of the Resurrection in recent years, Tawadros II did not refer to the violence in his address on Sunday.