Staunton, Oct. 13 – For the eighth time, Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church has met with the spiritual leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Catholicos Garegin II and Sheikh-ul-Islam Allakhshukyur Pashazade. His message was simple: the three must not allow the political conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan to become “a religious war.”
“Religious wars are a horrible and sinful page in the religious history of humanity,” the Russian church leader said at the Moscow meeting. “In the present century, I think that we must do everything in order that the terms ‘religion’ and ‘war’ do not combine into a single whole” (ng.ru/faith/2021-10-13/2_8276_peacemaker.html).
Before meeting with the Armenian and Azerbaijani religious leaders together, Kirill met with each separately, giving the catholicos a medal but not doing the same for the sheikh-ul-Islam, a tilt toward his fellow Christian and against the Muslim leader who laid a curse on the Armenians in 2019 but did not speak on the 2020 military clashes.
The joint declaration of the three stayed at the level of glittering generalities and did not suggest that Kirill’s effort to play peacemaker in the Caucasus is likely to have any more positive impact than his other efforts to assume that role elsewhere.