Kirill is trapped in “Kremlin propaganda”, Orthodox web portal says

01-03-2022

Eastern Europe

Lennart Nijenhuis, CNE.news

Patriarch Kirill (right) is the voice of President Putin, the editor of Orthodox Times says. Photo EPA

The editor of the web portal Orthodox Times has described Moscow’s Patriarch Kirill as part of the propaganda machine. Efi Efthimiou wrote that in a comment on Monday. And a diocese in Ukraine “no longer wants to hear the name of Kirill” any longer.

Orthodox Times is an English platform about the Orthodox Christian life all over the world. Since Russia is the largest and most prosperous province in the worldwide church, much of the reporting is always about the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). But seldom is the reporting so critical as in this comment.

In his Sunday sermon, Patriarch Kirill was “washing away” the Russian invasion in Ukraine, Efthimiou writes. The editor states that talking about the “fight against the unity of the land of the Russians and the Russian Church” proves his “entrapment” in the Kremlin propaganda.

The Russian church leader had not spoken about the Ukrainian people as a whole but only about them who are faithful to the Moscow Patriarchate, under Metropolitan Onuphry in Kyiv. Them he wishes strength and wisdom to “repulse the diabolical attacks”.

According to the editor, this message very much fits in a pattern followed by the Patriarchate not to go beyond the Kremlin policies. For that reason, Kirill speaks about the “dark and hostile external forces” from which Russia must guard “our historically common homeland” to “external enemies”. Nowhere does he speak about Ukraine as a nation or an independent country. On the contrary, he talks about “our common historical Motherland”, in which unity is under attack from the outside. The “Russian land” includes not only Russia but Ukraine and Belarus as well.

Kirill prays especially for Metropolitan Onuphry, the leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Message from the other side

While Kirill was praying for Onuphry on Sunday, he received a message from his counterpart in Kyiv, Metropolitan Epiphany. He is the leader of the autonomous Orthodox Church of Ukraine. He reminds the Patriarch in Moscow of the suffering of the people since “hundreds of thousands of children, women, and elderly have been forced to seek a safer place, thus leaving their homes.”

The Ukrainian church leader had expected a more robust stance from the supreme bishop of the church. “Unfortunately, it has become clear from your previous public statements that maintaining the goodwill of Putin and the leadership of the Russian Federation is much more important to you than caring for the people in Ukraine”, Epiphany says. “Therefore, it hardly makes sense to ask you to do something effective to stop Russia’s aggression against Ukraine immediately.”

The Kyiv bishop asks his Moscow colleague to cooperate in the homecoming of the “more than three thousand dead Russian servicemen”. He begs him, “to please show mercy to your fellow citizens and flock. If you cannot raise your voice against aggression, at least take the bodies of Russian soldiers whose lives have become the price for the ideas of the “Russian world” – yours and your president.”

Also, on Sunday, the Roman Catholic Cardinal Reinhard Marx from Munich, Germany, asked Kirill to speak to President Putin to stop the war. “I implore the Patriarch of Moscow to influence his President so that the war is ended so that the Weapons are laid down.”

Marx said this in the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Cathedral in Munich. Bishops are not politicians, he admitted, “but we have the mandate and the duty to proclaim the gospel of peace”, according to Marx’s website.

No prayers from Sumy

In the meantime, Ukrainian churches in the Sumy diocese decide not to pray for Patriarch Kirill any longer. That he spoke about “quarrels and unrest” last week, they experienced as a betrayal, the leadership of the diocese wrote in a statement. “In this difficult situation, guided by the dictates of our pastoral conscience, we decided to stop commemorating the Moscow Patriarch during worship. This decision is also dictated by the demands of our flock, which, alas, no longer wants to hear the name of Patriarch Kirill in our churches.”

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