Top Russian cleric accused of ‘crimes’ by fellow Orthodox leaders for sanctioning invasion of Ukraine

WASHINGTON — Patriarch Kirill, chief of the Russian Orthodox Church, has been a loyal ally of President Vladimir Putin for years. However his vociferous help of the invasion of Ukraine has drawn sturdy rebukes from spiritual leaders who say he has forsaken Christian teachings by supporting the Kremlin’s harmful marketing campaign.

In his most up-to-date Sunday sermon, delivered on the Church of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos, Kirill informed worshipers to respect official energy — a message seemingly meant to bolster a navy marketing campaign that has gone badly for Russia. As soon as referred to as “the politicking patriarch,” Kirill was enthroned in 2009 and is intently related inside Russia with the present political regime.

“May the Lord help us all in this difficult time for our Fatherland to unite, including around the authorities,” Kirill stated within the sermon. He hoped that the Russian folks would keep “the ability to repel external and internal enemies.”

Kirill has been a vociferous and constant supporter of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, regardless of the actual fact that the overwhelming majority of Ukrainians are Jap Orthodox. On Sunday, almost 300 leaders of the Ukrainian Orthodox church signed a letter accusing Kirill of “moral crimes” for his endorsement of the unprovoked assault on Ukraine, which has killed hundreds of civilians.

Russian Patriarch Kirill

Russian Patriarch Kirill celebrating a Christmas service in Moscow, Jan. 6, 2022. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP by way of Getty Photos)

“Our position is fully consistent with the Gospel and the church tradition,” the Ukrainian clergymen wrote. “Defending the homeland from the enemy is one of the main Christian virtues.”

Many Christian leaders within the West have denounced the invasion, together with Pope Francis and members of Kirill’s personal church. Most Russian clergy, nevertheless, share Kirill’s views. Metropolitan Mitrofan of Murmansk stated the invasion of Ukraine was a battle towards “the Antichrist.”

Mitrofan additionally stated that the Orthodox Church in Ukraine was “not a real church,” in reference to the schism between the Ukrainian and Russian church buildings three years in the past, angering each Putin and Kirill.

Lengthy suspected of having as soon as been an agent of the KGB — the Soviet period safety service that steadily singled out spiritual dissidents — Kirill is a logo of the resurgence of the Orthodox Church underneath Putin, who has used faith to bolster his nationalistic, anti-Western imaginative and prescient. In 2013, Kirill decried same-sex marriage as “a very dangerous sign of the apocalypse.” 4 years later, he criticized Western Europe for the “grave mistake” of straying from Christianity.

Though Russian society has grow to be more and more spiritual for the reason that fall of the Soviet Union, which formally embraced atheism, Kirill has not wholly escaped scrutiny. In 2012, {a photograph} of Kirill sporting a $40,000 watch was airbrushed to take away the timepiece, resulting in widespread derision and mockery. Two years in the past, he was seen sporting a watch costing $16,000, this time with out obvious concern for public backlash.

When Putin first determined to launch an invasion of Ukraine in late February — in what he described as an effort to “denazify” the nation’s authorities, which is led by a Jewish president — Kirill informed members of the armed forces that they have been on “the correct path.” He additionally alluded to threats mounting “on the borders of our Fatherland,” in an apparent reference to Ukraine and its Western allies.

A sovereign nation since 1991, Ukraine has sought to chart a course distinct from its Soviet legacy. Kyiv’s need for autonomy has at all times been considered as an affront by Putin, who first invaded Ukraine in 2014. He invaded once more eight years later, anticipating a simple victory, solely to face protests at dwelling and condemnation overseas.

Kirill stays a key ally for an more and more embattled Kremlin. “The Russian Orthodox Church’s moral blessing of this war has been years in the making,” Russia skilled Samuel Ramani of Oxford College stated earlier this month. Whereas few have been stunned by Kirill’s loyalty to Putin, his seeming lack of concern for the plight of peculiar Ukrainians has renewed criticism of his tenure.

Whereas he has made generic calls for peace, the 75-year-old bishop has additionally made no secret of his true sympathies. “We have entered into a struggle that has not a physical, but a metaphysical significance,” Kirill stated in early March.

In a extensively condemned sermon earlier this month, Kirill struck out towards the West whereas envisioning the identical fictitious unity of Slavic peoples that Putin has invoked and Ukrainians have rejected.

A man pushes his bike through debris and destroyed Russian military vehicles

Particles and destroyed Russian navy autos in Bucha, Ukraine, April 6. (Chris McGrath/Getty Photos)

“Today the word ‘independence’ is often applied to almost all countries of the world,” Kirill stated on the identical day that a lot of the world was encountering the photographs of slaughtered civilians in Bucha. “But this is wrong, because most of the countries of the world are now under the colossal influence of one force, which today, unfortunately, opposes the force of our people.”

The April 3 sermon was delivered on the major cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces. Kirill didn’t title the malevolent drive he had in thoughts, however Putin has blamed the US for engineering Ukraine’s profitable resistance to Russia.

“We are a peace-loving country and a very peace-loving, long-suffering people who suffered from wars like few other European nations,” Kirill went on to say.

“We have no desire for war or for doing something that could harm others. But we have been so educated by our entire history that we love our Fatherland and will be ready to defend it in the way that only Russians can defend their country.”

The April 3 sermon led to a rebuke from a frontrunner of the Greek Orthodox in the US. “From the words and actions of Patriarch Kirill, we can conclude he has made the same bargain with Putin and his cronies. This is, indeed, a sad moment for our church, and the whole world is watching,” Archbishop Elpidophoros stated in a speech the next day.

Rowan Williams, the previous archbishop of Canterbury, referred to as for the World Council of Church buildings to eject Russia after the April 3 sermon.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Photos)

“The riot act has to be read,” Lord Williams stated in an interview with the BBC.

“When a Church is actively supporting a war of aggression, failing to condemn nakedly obvious breaches in any kind of ethical conduct in wartime, then other churches have the right to raise the question and challenge it — to say, unless you can say something effective about this, something recognizably Christian, we have to look again at your membership.”

Current on the sermon Kirill delivered on Sunday have been a number of representatives of Norilsk Nickel, the mining big, which helped assemble the church the place service came about. The company is helmed by Vladimir Potanin, an oligarch near Putin.


What occurred this week in Ukraine? Try this explainer from Yahoo Immersive to seek out out.

Where are Russian forces attacking Ukraine? Check out this explainer from Yahoo Immersive to find out.

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