Patriarch Kirill, leader of Russian Orthodox Christians since 2009, has put his church at the service of President Vladimir Putin, who shares his ambition to Russia Conservative and powerful, he supports the Moscow offensive in Ukraine.
For many years, the 75-year-old religious leader has not hesitated to appear with the blessing of guns and missiles, nor to justify the crackdown on dissent and independent media.
Kirill rebuked Pope Francis on Wednesday (4) l Pope’s speech criticizing the proximity of Kirill with Putin.
The Pope told the Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera, that the patriarch “cannot become the boy of Putin’s altar.” The Orthodox leader said in a statement that Francis used the “wrong language” to refer to him in this way. The Orthodox Church described the incident as “unfortunate”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin kisses Kirill and the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia at the ceremony in 2013 (Image: REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov)
Kirill, like Putin, also sees Ukraine And Belarus as “sister” states should remain under the Moscow flag, and not as separate states.
The Patriarch increased his statements in support of the Russian attack in Ukraine. The European Commission wants to impose sanctions on him, as it has done with Putin and several Russian officials.
On February 27, three days after the invasion, Kirill described the “forces of evil” as critical of Russian ambitions in the neighboring country. In April, he called on the Russians to “stand together” to fight “enemies abroad and at home.”
Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, spoke to Kirill in March, when he urged the patriarch to “not use politics, use Jesus.”
Kirill’s support for Vladimir Putin was no surprise.
Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, at a historic meeting in Cuba in 2016. Francis decided to cancel another meeting between them due to Kirill’s pro-war stances – Photo: Reuters
Kirill, who succeeded the late Patriarch Alexis in 2009 – who rebuilt the church after the fall of the Soviet Union and its atheist regime – turned Russian Orthodoxy into a religious political machine in the service of the Kremlin.
In 2012, religious people declared Putin’s reign a “miracle from God” after the post-Soviet crisis of the 1990s, AFP reported.
In the same year, an event exemplifies the conservative stance of this gray-bearded devout.
Four masked young men, who were part of the Basque group Pussy Riot, entered the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, the main one in Moscow, to sing an anti-Putin song.
Three of them were arrested and sentenced to severe prison terms.
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Kirill rejected pleas for mercy, calling the move “blasphemous”. He ensured that “the devil laughs” sometimes. Since then, he remembers it regularly The Orthodox believer should never protest.
For him, the large demonstrations that followed the arrest of opponent Alexei Navalny in January 2021 revealed a “crisis among the younger generation.”
A critic of homosexuality, he is an admirer of Vladimir Putin’s wanted law banning “propaganda of homosexuality of minors”, the texts of which are considered by many NGOs as a tool of homophobia.
Unlike his grandfather, a priest, a victim of Stalinist oppression, Kirill – his civil name Vladimir Gundyaev – found his place in the church apparatus during the Soviet era, under the regime.
In 1965, when he was 19 years old, he entered theological school in his hometown of Leningrad (present-day Saint Petersburg) and became a monk four years later.
He ascended to his first diplomatic post in his church in 1971 and in 1989 he took over as head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is similar to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
This path raised doubts about close ties with the KGB, the Soviet intelligence service. The apparatus of repression in the communist bloc at that time relied on the ecclesiastical establishment to spy on believers.
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