A controversial figure
His relationship with Putin
Putin and Kirill need each other
Mutual support
The Patriarch of Moscow and Russia
The leader of more than 100 million believers
The Patriarch and world leaders
The Patriarch and the Pope
Meeting in Cuba in 2016
The video conference between Moscow and the Vatican
Different perspectives
Does the Patriarch support the war in Ukraine?
One spiritual people
Forgiveness Sunday sermon
The Sins of the West
War to protect the people from the
Human salvation
The metaphysical meaning of war
Pride Parade
Criticism of Forgiveness Sunday sermon
The call to arms
'All people must wake up today'
The West is to blame
Influencing each other
The words of the expert
The
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Kirill, the controversial Orthodox patriarch who calls Putin 'a miracle of God'
(1/27)
A controversial figure

Kirill, the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church is a controversial religious leader. Kirill is an elusive figure on the world politics spectrum, particularly in recent times, given his comments on the war in Ukraine.

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Kirill, the controversial Orthodox patriarch who calls Putin 'a miracle of God'
(2/27)
His relationship with Putin

Contributing to the aura of controversy surrounding Kirill is his close connection to Russian political leaders. Kirill is known for his close relationship with the Kremlin, even the BBC has written of his close ties with President Vladimir Putin.

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Kirill, the controversial Orthodox patriarch who calls Putin 'a miracle of God'
(3/27)
Putin and Kirill need each other

The Russian Orthodox Church has an exorbitant number of believers (about 150 million), and it is not surprising that the leader of the Church plays a very important role not only on a spiritual but also on a political level.

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Kirill, the controversial Orthodox patriarch who calls Putin 'a miracle of God'
(4/27)
Mutual support

Putin needs the support of the Russian Orthodox Church, and Kirill needs the Kremlin to maintain his leadership position in the Russian church hierarchy.

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Kirill, the controversial Orthodox patriarch who calls Putin 'a miracle of God'
(5/27)
The Patriarch of Moscow and Russia

To understand the power that Kirill holds, one only needs to look at the Moscow skyline: around 50 churches have been built since 2010, and many more are in the works. Moscow is the seat of the Patriarchate, the Russian Orthodox Church, headed by Kirill.

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Kirill, the controversial Orthodox patriarch who calls Putin 'a miracle of God'
(6/27)
The leader of more than 100 million believers

The Patriarch presides over thirty-six thousand congregations and has more than a hundred million believers, ie about a third of the world's Orthodox Christians, according to the investigative report 'God save Russia'.

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Kirill, the controversial Orthodox patriarch who calls Putin 'a miracle of God'
(7/27)
The Patriarch and world leaders

Kirill is undoubtedly a man of great power, and it's not just Putin who recognizes this. Other leaders have understood that he and his influence should not be underestimated, and that's why we've often seen him alongside leaders on the world stage, like Barack Obama, Pope Francis, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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Kirill, the controversial Orthodox patriarch who calls Putin 'a miracle of God'
(8/27)
The Patriarch and the Pope

Under Kirill's leadership, relations with the Vatican were partially restored, overcoming a rift dating back to the Eastern Schism of 1054.

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Kirill, the controversial Orthodox patriarch who calls Putin 'a miracle of God'
(9/27)
Meeting in Cuba in 2016

In 2016 the two leaders, Pope Francis and Kirill I, were the protagonists of a historic embrace, however these days, things have cooled down.  The Christian Churches of the East and of the West have grown apart again due to the war in Ukraine.

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Kirill, the controversial Orthodox patriarch who calls Putin 'a miracle of God'
(10/27)
The video conference between Moscow and the Vatican

On March 15, 2022, an online conversation took place between the two religious leaders. The Vatican statement on the meeting called it a meeting "...spirited by the desire to chart a path to peace, to pray for the gift of peace and the laying down of arms."

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Kirill, the controversial Orthodox patriarch who calls Putin 'a miracle of God'
(11/27)
Different perspectives

However, the Russian statement on the meeting only emphasized that "...the parties stressed the extreme importance of the ongoing negotiation process and expressed their hope to reach a just peace as soon as possible," according to the Italian newspaper, La Repubblica.

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Kirill, the controversial Orthodox patriarch who calls Putin 'a miracle of God'
(12/27)
Does the Patriarch support the war in Ukraine?

Despite an initial (and much-criticised) moment of silence on the war in Ukraine, Kirill I's recent comments on the conflict leave no doubt about his opinion. In an analysis of the Russian Orthodox Church, 'The Guardian' recalls the words of Kirill, who called Putin a "miracle of God".

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Kirill, the controversial Orthodox patriarch who calls Putin 'a miracle of God'
(13/27)
One spiritual people

As bombs fell on Ukrainian cities, he declared that "it is God's truth that the peoples of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus should be united as one spiritual people," according to the British newspaper, in a message echoing the words of the Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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Kirill, the controversial Orthodox patriarch who calls Putin 'a miracle of God'
(14/27)
Forgiveness Sunday sermon

In his sermon on Forgiveness Sunday, delivered from the pulpit of Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Kirill's words about the "outbreak of hostilities" were quite inflammatory.

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Kirill, the controversial Orthodox patriarch who calls Putin 'a miracle of God'
(15/27)
The Sins of the West

The head of the Orthodox Church justified the outbreak of war by declaring: "For eight years there have been attempts to destroy what exists in the Donbass. And in the Donbass there is a fundamental rejection of the so-called values ​​that are offered today by those who claim world power."

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Kirill, the controversial Orthodox patriarch who calls Putin 'a miracle of God'
(16/27)
"The test is very simple and at the same time terrible...."

The Russian Church leader continued, "There is such a test for the loyalty of this government, a pass to the world of excess consumption, the world of freedom. The test is very simple and at the same time terrible – gay parades.

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Kirill, the controversial Orthodox patriarch who calls Putin 'a miracle of God'
(17/27)
War to protect the people from the "sins" of the West

Kirill seems to see the war as necessary to ensure the victory of Christian moral values over the "sins" of the West.

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Kirill, the controversial Orthodox patriarch who calls Putin 'a miracle of God'
(18/27)
Human salvation

In his homily, Kirill continued, “Therefore, what is happening in international relations has not only political significance. It is about something different and much more important than politics. We are talking about human salvation…A real war is going on around this topic today.”

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Kirill, the controversial Orthodox patriarch who calls Putin 'a miracle of God'
(19/27)
The metaphysical meaning of war

While Putin seems to be viewing the war in Ukraine as a response to his own reinterpretation of recent history, Kirill seems to be speaking of a real clash of cultures: although he never mentions them openly, his words seem to gravitate to terms like the Crusades or  the Holy War.

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Kirill, the controversial Orthodox patriarch who calls Putin 'a miracle of God'
(20/27)
Pride Parade

For the Russian patriarch, the war in Ukraine therefore represents the Russians rejection of "the values that are being offered today by those who claim world domination". And further: "To become a member of the club of these countries, you have to organize a Pride march. We don't want to make a political statement that says: 'We are on your side', we don't want to sign an agreement and then have a Pride parade," reports CNN.

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Kirill, the controversial Orthodox patriarch who calls Putin 'a miracle of God'
(21/27)
Criticism of Forgiveness Sunday sermon

Public opinion, especially in the West, has not hesitated to criticize his words. Matthew Luxmoore, the Wall Street Journal's correspondent covering the war in Ukraine, commented on Twitter: "Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill unsurprisingly endorsing Putin’s narrative on Ukraine in a sermon today. According to him the West essentially organises genocide campaigns against countries that refuse to stage gay parades."

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Kirill, the controversial Orthodox patriarch who calls Putin 'a miracle of God'
(22/27)
The call to arms

The sermon on Forgiveness Sunday was followed by other controversial speeches by the Moscow Patriarch. According to the magazine Secolo XIX, in its report on Kirilll's speech at a ceremony with the armed forces, the patriarch speaks of a veritable "call to arms".

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Kirill, the controversial Orthodox patriarch who calls Putin 'a miracle of God'
(23/27)
'All people must wake up today'

According to the various newspapers, Kirill declared: "Most of the countries of the world today are under the colossal influence of a force that unfortunately goes against the strength of our people," adding: "We must also be very strong. When I say 'we', I mean first of all the armed forces, but not only them. All our people must wake up today and understand that a special time has come on which the historical destiny of our people may depend."

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Kirill, the controversial Orthodox patriarch who calls Putin 'a miracle of God'
(24/27)
The West is to blame

So it seems that Kirill thinks the West is responsible for the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine. According to Russia's religious leader the West caused the war by weakening Russia's power and "making enemies of brotherly peoples", without sparing "efforts and means, to attack Ukraine with arms and to inundate war trainers," as Avvenire reports.

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Kirill, the controversial Orthodox patriarch who calls Putin 'a miracle of God'
(25/27)
Influencing each other

Despite the different nuances, Cyril's rhetoric is reminiscent of Putin's, confirming the close ties between the two and likely also the mutual influence of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Kremlin.

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Kirill, the controversial Orthodox patriarch who calls Putin 'a miracle of God'
(26/27)
The words of the expert

Cyril Hovorun, professor of ecclesiology and international relations, told Al Jazeera: "It is not just about the church’s complete submission to the political authorities. The church also tried to influence the Kremlin. In a sense, the Russian Orthodox Church was successful, because the Kremlin at some point adopted the political language of the church, which became known as the ideology of the ‘Russian world’. This ideology originated in the church and then was weaponised by the Kremlin.”

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Kirill, the controversial Orthodox patriarch who calls Putin 'a miracle of God'
(27/27)
The "Kremlin Chaplain"

The power and influence of Kirill I should therefore not be underestimated, for it seems clear that his spiritual mission coincides with the political mission of the Kremlin (the Church is seen as a pillar of the state) and his figure with that of President Putin overlaps so that he is referred to as the "Kremlin Chaplain".

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