Church leaders call for peace over Easter weekend

“Celebrating Easter in the shadow of war provides an opportunity to think about suffering in the light of resurrection,” Bishop Zoltán Balog said.

Bishop Zoltán Balog, head of the synod of the Hungarian Reformed Church, said “the suffering we endure or witness will not alienate us from God but bring us closer to him”. “Celebrating Easter in the shadow of war provides an opportunity to think about suffering in the light of resurrection,” he said.

According to MTI, Balog said he was “grateful and proud” to see that “Hungarians are helping on both sides of the Hungary-Ukraine border”, adding that the Reformed Charity had mobilized 5,000 volunteers, with church members opening up their homes and accommodating over 6,500 refugees.

The Reformed Church has also raised “the highest amount in 33 years” in donations to help refugees from Ukraine.

“Christians must not approve of war… blessed are those that build peace while those waging wars are evil,” Balog said. He said “no alleged or real grievance could legitimise Russia’s aggression” but called for prayers for Russians “because they, too, are suffering a lot”.

Meanwhile, Bishop Tamás Fabiny, the head of the Hungarian Evangelical Church, told MTI that “each suffering or persecuted individual carries the wounds of Jesus”, adding that support between people “is rooted in recognizing Jesus in the other person”.

He said this year’s Easter had the symbolic meaning that “Jesus would not want us to live behind closed doors and leave those doors closed before people of a different nationality, religion, or thinking”.

Asked what churches could do for peace, the bishop said “pray, speak up, and help those suffering”. He said he was glad to see that people have showed solidarity and were ready to help. He said his community donated money and accommodated refugees in their homes at the first call.

The Evangelical Church is now in the process of organizing tuition in Ukrainian in some of their schools, using bilingual teachers from Transcarpathia, Fabiny said. He added that his church was receiving help from Bavaria, the United States, and Norway to provide financial and material aid to the refugees and Hungarian families accommodating them.

Photo credit: MTI