French president warns Russian Orthodox Church for manipulation by Kremlin


Eastern Europe


Russian President Vladimir Putin (r.) and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron. Photo AFP, Kirill Kudryavtsev

"The Russian authorities are manipulating the Russian Orthodox Elite", French President Immanuel Macron warned during his visit to Rome last Sunday. The Russian Orthodox Church now vehemently denies being pressured by the Kremlin.

"The words of President Macron caused bewilderment and obviously come from ignorance of the topic", the chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate responded to the statements, as reported by Ria Novosti. The Metropolitan, Anthony of Volokolamsk, expressed the hope that President Macron will be able to get to know the history of Orthodoxy so that he can "comment on issues that relate to the role and place of Orthodoxy in the life of Russian society more competently."

The West interferes with religious ties between the peoples of Russia and Ukraine in an attempt to denigrate the Russian Orthodox Church, Sergey Lavrov, the Russian minister of Foreign Affairs, complained. That is reported by Ria Novosti. Lavrov criticises the pressure from several states on the Russian religious communities, for example, the sanctions against Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

Political projects

President Macron made his controversial statements about the Russian Orthodox Church during his visit to Rome, where he opened the annual Forum on Peace on Sunday. That is reported by La Croix. According to Macron, religions should "never support political projects that tend to deny the dignity of individuals."

The French President especially picked on the Russian Orthodox Church, whose representative, Metropolitan Antoine, was also present at the Forum. Macron accused the Orthodox Church of letting itself be manipulated by the Russian authorities to justify the war in Ukraine, Reuters writes. The Church should resist this manipulation, he insisted. "Resistance is precisely never to justify, be trapped, or support political projects that would tend to enslave or deny the dignity of each individual", he said.

Criminal regime

The Ukrainian representative of the United Nations, Serhii Kyslytsia, responded ironically to Macron's statements, Risu.ua writes. Kyslytsia tweeted that the Russian Orthodox Church is not being manipulated. Instead, it is a "part and parcel of a criminal regime", the UN representative wrote.


It is not the first time political leaders have spoken out against the Russian Orthodox Church. Earlier this week, the Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Hellas said that the American ambassador requested him to "recognise the Orthodox Church of Ukraine", which broke with the Moscow Patriarchate already before the war. That is reported by Sphz. Ieronymos decided to honour this request. "I told the American ambassador that I would be on the side of Patriarch Bartholomew, and therefore your will must be fulfilled. This is not a political choice, but because I respect what the Patriarch stands for", Ieronymos said.

Concern and surprise

The Russian Orthodox Church is concerned about political interference from several countries in the affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church. Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk, from the Department of External Church Relations, commented to TASS on the political motion in Lativia to break the Orthodox Church in the country away from the Moscow Patriarchate.

According to the Russian Department of External Church Relations, this event is the "grossest interference of the state in affairs of the church". The Metropolitan says this kind of thing happens in several other countries. "This cannot but cause concern, as well as surprise because Western society is so proud of its commitment to the principle of respect for fundamental human rights."



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