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Rev. Dr. Lee B. Spitzer offers his thoughts on how American followers of Jesus should come to grips with the reality and implications of our country’s historical record of racist actions and structures. He determines that although offering reparations is certainly a societal collective responsibility that must be addressed, we should also embrace the more personal spiritual discipline of reparations.

Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, has co-opted the vision of the sacrifice of Jesus to bless a false rite of military sacrifice. In this bloody vision of Christian Nationalism, we find many warnings. So, in this issue of A Public Witness, we look at religious support and criticism of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. And we hold up a candle to expose sacrilegious efforts to conflate church and state.

Brian Kaylor reports from the 2022 general council of the European Baptist Federation in Riga, Latvia. A focus of the gathering is the war on Ukraine and how to support believers in the nation and refugees fleeing to other countries.

With the pope surrounded by empty seats in Kazakhstan, critics questioned the efficacy of his diplomacy of encounter and his strategy of silence when it comes to outright condemning human rights violations in China, Russia and Nicaragua. But Vatican diplomacy insiders urge patience, arguing that even as the pope remains silent, the institution’s diplomatic corps is hard at work behind the scenes, advancing the cause for dialogue.

After a sometimes tense week that included passionate exchanges, the 11th assembly of the World Council of Churches approved a statement regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that denounces the war but does not single out the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, who has been widely criticized for outlining what is seen as the spiritual foundation for the invasion.

First Baptist Church is so crucial to the history of the Colombian island of San Andres that detailed record of births and deaths are kept here in crumbling books that date back nearly two centuries. 

China’s discriminatory detention of Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim ethnic groups in the western region of Xinjiang may constitute crimes against humanity, the U.N. human rights office said in a long-awaited report Wednesday, which cited “serious” rights violations and patterns of torture in recent years. The report seeks “urgent attention” from the U.N. and the world community to rights violations.

Botrus Mansour describes the work it took to transform his grandparents' 140-year-old house into a wedding chapel for those who want to tie the knot in the town where Jesus turned water into wine performing his first miracle in Galilee. This symbol of rich Palestinian Christian heritage represents more than just a tourist business or museum — it is part of a community that has chosen to be the living stones of this biblical land.

A  meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, appears to be scrapped after the cleric, who has been widely criticized for his justifications for the invasion of Ukraine, pulled out of a meeting of religious leaders in Kazakhstan next month. Francis, who is slated to attend the gathering, was said to be hoping for an encounter with Kirill on the sidelines of the event.

About 400 Ukrainian Baptist congregations have been lost in Russia’s war on Ukraine, said Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary President Yaroslav Pyzh, who is working to restore pastoral leadership to impacted cities.