Putin’s Ukrainian War, A Defeat For Humanity

By Henry Karlson, 25 February 2022
A column of armored personnel carriers rides on a winter road in Kharkiv, Ukraine, in January 2022. Image: Seneline/Shutterstock.com


War is always an evil. No matter who wins, humanity loses. “And let us not forget that war and terrorism are always a great loss for all humanity. They are the great defeat of humanity!”[1] Even the most just war is an evil which we should pray we never have to face, but when war comes to us, not everyone is equally guilty for the evil which follows. Those who intend to take what is not theirs and make it their own, or those who intend to harm innocents because of various prejudices and biases they hold against those innocents, will face resistance. Those who are defending themselves from such violence have less culpability for what happens than those who turned them into resistors, but nonetheless, what happens in war, even if justified, can and will stain the souls of those involved. For peace to be restored there will need to be more than the cessation of hostilities, but restorative justice, as Cardinal Arinze said right after 9-11:

Justice is a necessary foundation for peace. If people are deprived of their rights, if they are oppressed and repressed, if they are not allowed to have a voice to claim what is due to them, then the foundations for peace and shaky indeed. [2]

Ukrainians have a right to desire peace, and after being unjustly invaded by Russia, that peace must mean Russia will not only have to cease hostilities but work to restore what was already lost to the Ukrainians. Putin’s desire for an empire does not justify the invasion of a sovereign country. There was no just cause for war. And so, we see, with Russia’s assault into Ukrainian territory, justice has been destroyed, and humanity once again suffers a great loss.

“Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good” (Eccles. 9:18 RSV). We must pray for peace, meaning, for its restoration, and that of course means more than an end to the violence, but an end to the root causes which have led to the war, among which are pride, hatred, envy, and greed. “Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Rom. 14:19 RSV). In the present circumstances, this means promoting and defending the rights of Ukrainians. We must seek an end to the violence, but to do that, we must look for more than the mere cessation of war, but actually promote justice, making sure that those who are guilty for the violence give back to the world the justice which they took from it.

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Henry Karlson, after studying early church history and theology, and talking to a close friend who could answer many of his questions, became a Byzantine Catholic in 1995. Because of his interests, he eventually pursued graduate studies in theology. He has a wide variety of topics he likes to talk about which will be reflected upon here, including, but not limited to, Patrology, Sophiology, Comparative Theology, Theological Aesthetics, Eschatology and Literature.

With thanks to Patheos and Henry Karlson, where this reflection originally appeared.


[1] Pope Francis, “Angelus” (8-11-2019). Vatican translation.

[2] Cardinal Francis Arinze, Religions For Peace (New York: Doubleday, 2002), 62.


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