Staunton, February 21 – When he became patriarch, Kirill created a secretariat to give him greater control over the church’s bureaucracy. It is now headed by Valeriya Merkulova, a nun, who together with a second nun, Serafima Pikova, who controls the archives; and together, they have become the powers behind the throne, the Little Father Luther telegram channel says.
Indeed, their power to control what Patriarch Kirill sees and thus what he does and even more to exclude from his sight and participation in decision-making all men is now so great that it may be time to rechristen the central offices of the Russian Orthodox Church “a matriarchate” (t.me/batluter/375).
“In open sources,” the telegram channel writes, “you will not find any reports” about these two “valets” and their powers. But they matter far more than those who do figure in the press because “the principle of their work is simple – ‘one must never believe anyone, everyone around lies, and only we speak the truth.’”
To that end, the two women have demanded more reports and documents to be sent to them than ever before from all church officials and bodies below them. They have then “processed” them so that only the views they like are represented. And they have convinced Kirill that only these documents after their editing are to be considered.
At one recent session of the Higher Church Council, Metropolitan Ilarion Alfeyev asked the patriarch directly how he felt about the comments and edits that the two women were responsible for. The head of the church responded simply, directly and ultimately brutally “as if they were my own.”
That has given these two women enormous power, Little Father Luther says. They have been in a position to get those in the church they don’t like removed and those they do like promoted. And they have done so by keeping Kirill isolated. In the judgment of the telegram channel, the patriarch often doesn’t know what the real facts are, thanks to these two “valets.”
“Unfortunately,” the channel continues, “this situation completely satisfies” the Patriarch. He views the two as “holy toilers,” although he does sometimes remark in limited circles that these women lack “’good male sense.’” But he has done nothing to limit their power, and so they rather than he are the real powers in what is ever less a patriarchate.