Patriarch Kirill in Wanted List
On December 15, Ukraine’s Interior Ministry placed Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church and a staunch supporter of the Kremlin’s invasion of Kyiv, on a wanted list, accusing him of abetting the conflict.
The Russian Orthodox Church (ROC)
The ROC, also known as the Moscow Patriarchate, is the largest autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Christian church, boasting around 100 million members. Patriarch Kirill leads this Moscow-based church, asserting jurisdiction over Eastern Orthodox Christians in the former Soviet Union, except Georgia and more recently, Ukraine.
Historical Roots of the Russian Orthodox Church
The roots of the ROC trace back to Kievan Rus, a kingdom in Northern and Eastern Europe from the late 9th to early 13th century. Vladimir I’s conversion to Christianity in 988 CE marked the establishment of the religion as the state’s foundation. Over time, the ROC asserted independence, particularly after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, formally becoming an autocephalous branch of Eastern Christianity.
Patriarch Kirill’s Support for the War
Patriarch Kirill, in office since 2009, has expressed support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, intertwining his statements with religious undertones. He has portrayed the conflict as a spiritual battle and aligned himself closely with President Vladimir Putin. Kirill has endorsed Putin’s actions, calling for unity to repel external and internal enemies in the face of challenging times for Russia.
The Ukrainian Interior Ministry’s decision to put Patriarch Kirill on the wanted list is deemed symbolic. While accused of abetting the conflict, the move is not expected to have practical consequences, as Kirill is in Russia and faces no immediate threat of arrest. This symbolic step reflects Ukraine’s broader strategy to diminish the influence of priests with alleged ties to Russia, aiming to safeguard Ukrainian society from external influences.
Category: International / World Current Affairs