Dead Russian Soldier in Ukraine

Ethicists Without Borders Issues Statement on Russia’s Aggression Against Ukraine

Ethicists without Borders is a Facebook group spearheaded by the distinguished Christian ethicist Tobias Winright of St. Louis University. This group has just released the statement below. I am a signatory.

Note the following elements:

  • This statement calls what is going on by its right name — not vague worries about “the conflict in Ukraine,” but concrete description of “Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.”
  • The statement situates Russian actions as a violation of international law and the United Nations Charter, and as war crimes.
  • It expresses solidarity with the democratically elected Ukrainian government and its people and calls for spiritual, practical and humanitarian aid and advocacy.
  • It applauds and calls for further vigils, protests and especially conscientious objection actions in Russia and among Russian soldiers. These are crucial steps and are already happening.
  • The statement does not go further, undoubtedly because group consensus would shatter if it did. I would have added a statement of support for the unprecedentedly strong economic sanctions and political isolation being requited on the Putin regime and its cronies, as well as for the provision of international military aid to help Ukrainians defend their homeland, themselves, and their children.

This rare support on my part for military aid as one among many aspects of resistance to unjust aggression is rooted in the principle of neighbor-love, and in the practical hope that these steps will both prevent Putin from conquering Ukraine and drive him from power, opening the way for the possibility of a democratic future for Russia and greater peace and security for the whole world. This, it seems to me, is what just peacemaking requires at this particular moment.

The statement follows:

AS ETHICISTS, scholars and religious leaders, we condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia’s brutal, wholly unprovoked and unjustified full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

“There can be no credible ethical justification in defense of this attack.”

There can be no credible ethical justification in defense of this attack. Attempts by Russian spokespeople to appropriate ethical language for rhetorical effect and to fabricate a pretext for invasion were transparently disingenuous. We call on religious, moral and political leaders, if they have not yet done so, to join us in unreserved denunciation of this unconscionable act of aggression.

This long-planned military assault against a democratic, independent, European sovereign state is a flagrant violation of international law and undermines the founding principles of the U.N. Charter. It challenges the very basis of peace and security across Europe, which includes every nation’s right to choose their own economic and security arrangements, free from subjugation, coercion or unwarranted interference in their affairs.

We deplore and lament the tragic loss of life, enormous suffering and destruction of infrastructure and cultural heritage inflicted on the innocent people of Ukraine. We especially decry the indiscriminate and illegal attacks on civilian areas, hospitals and schools, the use of internationally banned cluster munitions, and other war crimes documented by human rights organizations.

We stand in solidarity with the democratically elected president, parliament and government of Ukraine, and with the Ukrainian people courageously defending their homeland, their independence and the values of the free world. We call on people of faith and good will everywhere to mobilize spiritual and practical resources to support humanitarian relief efforts and to advocate on behalf of refugees.

“Let us work together toward establishing a just and lasting peace in Ukraine.”

We applaud the courage and compassion of the many Russian citizens protesting against this attack on their Ukrainian neighbors, relatives and friends, knowing they themselves face risks of arrest and oppression. It is our profound hope that members of the Russian military will lay down their weapons in conscientious protest against this illegal and immoral invasion and refuse to comply with orders to participate in war crimes.

We call on people of faith and goodwill everywhere to support the growing international protests and peace vigils demanding an end to the violence and an immediate withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine. Let us work together toward establishing a just and lasting peace in Ukraine.

Signed (To add your signature, please complete the following form):

  1. Nicholas Adams, Professor of Philosophical Theology, University of Birmingham
  2. Kevin Ahern, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Manhattan College
  3. Mark J Allman, Professor of Religious & Theological Studies, Merrimack College
  4. Christina Astorga, Professor of Christian Ethics, University of Portland
  5. James P. Bailey, Duquesne University
  6. Jana Bennett, Professor, University of Dayton
  7. Elizabeth M. Bounds, Associate Professor of Christian Ethics, Candler School of Theology, Emory University
  8. Harold Braswell, Associate Professor of Health Care Ethics, Saint Louis University
  9. James T. Brezke, SJ, S.T.D., Professor of Theology, John Carroll University
  10. Julia Brumbaugh, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Regis University (Denver)
  11. Deirdre Brower Latz, Principal, Nazarene Theological College
  12. Bruce P. Bouchard, St. Jacob’s (Stone) UCC
  13. Kevin Carnahan, Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Central Methodist University
  14. Jonathan Chaplin, Member, Cambridge University Divinity Faculty
  15. Ki Joo Choi, Seton Hall University
  16. Drew Christiansen, S.J., Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Human Development, Georgetown University
  17. Dolores L. Christie, retired, Former Executive Director of the CTSA
  18. David Clough, Chair in Theology and Applied Sciences, University of Aberdeen
  19. Holly Taylor Coolman, Providence College
  20. M. Shawn Copeland, Boston College
  21. Dan Cosacchi, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Marywood University
  22. Richard D. Crane, Professor of Theology, Messiah University
  23. Daniel J. Daly, Associate Professor of Moral Theology, Boston College School of Theology & Ministry
  24. Maria Teresa Davila, Visiting Associate Professor of Practice (RTS), Merrimack College
  25. Richard A. Davis, Director of the Centre for Faith in Public Life​, Wesley House, Cambridge, England
  26. Stacy Davis, Professor and Chair of Religious Studies and Theology, Saint Mary’s College
  27. Neomi De Anda, Associate Professor, Religious Studies University of Dayton
  28. David DeCosse, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Santa Clara University
  29. Christopher Denny, Associate Professor, St. John’s University (NY)
  30. Mary Doak, Professor, University of San Diego
  31. Kathleen Dorsey Bellow, IBCS Director and Professor, Xavier University of Louisiana
  32. Ron Dziwenka, Salisbury University
  33. Jason T. Eberl, Professor of Health Care Ethics and Philosophy, Saint Louis University
  34. Howard Ebert, Professor, St. Norbert College
  35. Opal Easter-Smith, Holy Name of Mary Church
  36. Joseph J. Fahey, Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice
  37. George Faithful, Associate Professor of Religion and Philosophy, Dominican University of California
  38. Anna Floerke Scheid, Duquesne University
  39. Craig A. Ford Jr., Assistant Professor of Theology and Religious Studies, St. Norbert College
  40. Mathew Garcia Scruggs, Independent Scholar
  41. David P. Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics, Mercer University
  42. Kevin Hargaden, Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, Dublin, Ireland
  43. Diana L. Hayes Emerita Professor, Georgetown University
  44. Aimee Allison Hein, Boston College
  45. Kristin Heyer, Professor of Theology, Boston College
  46. Mary E. Hines, Professor of Theology and Religious Studies, Emmanuel College, Boston
  47. MaryAnn Hinsdale, Associate Professor of Theology, Boston College
  48. David Hollenbach, S.J. , Pedro Arrupe Distinguished Professor, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
  49. Stephen Mark Holmes, Scottish Episcopal Institute
  50. Timothy P. Jackson, Bishop Mack B. and Rose Stokes Professor of Theological Ethics, Candler School of Theology, Emory University
  51. James E. Hug, S.J.
  52. Michael P. Jaycox, Associate Professor of Christian Ethics, Seattle University
  53. Laurie Johnston, Associate Professor of Theology, Emmanuel College
  54. Peter L Jones, Interim Dean, Clinical Associate Professor, Institute of Pastoral Studies, Loyola University Chicago
  55. Grace Kao, Professor of Ethics, Claremont School of Theology
  56. Conor Kelly, Associate Professor of Theology, Marquette University
  57. Donald J. Kirby, S.J., Professor, Religious Studies Department, Le Moyne College, Syracuse, NY
  58. Joseph J. Kotva Jr., IU School of Medicine – South Bend
  59. Kelly Rae Kraemer, Professor of Peace Studies, College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University
  60. Jonathan D. Lawrence, Canisius College
  61. Anjeanette LeBoeuf, Assistant Professor, Saint Louis University
  62. Amy Levad, University of St. Thomas, Minnesota
  63. Ramon Luzarraga, Associate Professor of Theology, Saint Martin’s University
  64. Patrick Lynch, S.J., Professor Emeritus, Canisius College
  65. M. Therese Lysaught, Loyola University Chicago, Pontifical Academy for Life
  66. Robert MacSwain, University of the South
  67. Dorie Mansen, Assistant Professor of the Practice, Merrimack College
  68. Bryan N. Massingale, Buckman Professor of Theological and Social Ethics, Fordham University
  69. Sally May, Malletts Bay UCC, Colchester, VT USA
  70. Michael T. McLaughlin, Old Dominion University
  71. Mark S. Medley, Professor of Theology, Baptist Seminary of Kentucky
  72. Neil Messer, Professor of Theology, University of Winchester
  73. Alan G. Misenheimer, U.S. Department of State (ret.)
  74. Xavier M. Montecel, Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Ethics, Fairfield University
  75. Caesar A. Montevecchio, Assistant Director, Catholic Peacebuilding Network
  76. Jon Morgan, University of Exeter
  77. Chaitanya Motupalli, Director of Student Life, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA
  78. Rachel Muers, Professor of Theology, University of Leeds
  79. Christina Nellist, Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, Eastern Orthodox Theologian
  80. Dawn M. Nothwehr, OSF, The Erica & Harry John Family Endowed Chair in Catholic Theological Ethics, Catholic Theological Union, Chicago
  81. Chris Nunez, UCSC Newman Center, Diocese of Monterey
  82. David O’Leary, STL, Pastor Good Shepherd , Wayland, MA
  83. Ron Pagnucco, College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University
  84. Claudine Pannell-Goodlett, Owner, Folayan Consulting
  85. Karen E. Park, Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies, St. Norbert College
  86. Karen Peterson-Iyer, Assistant Professor, Santa Clara University
  87. Christopher Pramuk, Associate Professor of Theology, Regis University
  88. William L. Portier, Professor Emeritus, Former Mary Ann Spearin Chair of Catholic Theology, University of Dayton
  89. Emily Reimer-Barry, Associate Professor, University of San Diego
  90. John Renard, Professor Emeritus of Theological Studies, Saint Louis University
  91. Ruben Rosario Rodriguez, Professor of Systematic Theology, Saint Louis University
  92. Susan A. Ross (Emerita), Loyola University Chicago
  93. Nancy M Rourke, Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Theology, Canisius College
  94. Daniel Scheid, Associate Professor, Duquesne University
  95. Gerald W. Schlabach, emeritus professor of theology, University of St. Thomas (MN)
  96. J. Alexander Sider, Professor of Religion and Director of Peace and Conflict Studies, Bluffton University
  97. Paulette Skiba, Professor of Theology, Clarke University
  98. Harmon L. Smith, Emeritus Professor of Moral Theology, Duke University
  99. Ted A. Smith, A.H. Shatford Professor of Divinity, Candler School of Theology, Emory University
  100. Jacob W. Torbeck, Instructor of Theology, Loyola University Chicago
  101. David Turnbloom, Associate Professor, University of Portland
  102. Jacaranda Turvey Tait, Liverpool John Moores University
  103. Elisabeth T. Vasko, Associate Professor of Theology, Duquesne University
  104. Andrea Vicini, S.J., Michael P. Walsh Professor of Bioethics, Boston College
  105. Paul Wadell, Professor Emeritus of Theology and Religious Studies, St. Norbert College
  106. Kate Ward, Assistant Professor, Marquette University
  107. Myles Werntz, Associate Professor of Theology, Abilene Christian University
  108. Todd Whitmore, Associate Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame
  109. Joseph Wiinikka-Lydon, Assistant Director of Teaching Excellence and Lecturer in Religion and Ethics, Guilford College
  110. George R. Wilkes, Project on Religion and Ethics in the Making of War and Peace
  111. Reggie L. Williams, Professor of Christian Ethics, McCormick Theological Seminary
  112. Tobias Winright, Associate Professor of Theological Ethics and Health Care Ethics, Saint Louis University
  113. Paul J. Wojda, Associate Professor of Theology, University of St. Thomas (MN)
  114. George Yancy, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Philosophy, Emory University

This article first appeared on Baptist News Global.

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1 thought on “Ethicists Without Borders Issues Statement on Russia’s Aggression Against Ukraine”

  1. Thankful that some of the academic community is making a statement. It seems to me that signatures are missing.

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