Staunton, April 22 – Two close observers of the Russian religious scene, Sergey Chaplin and Konstantin von Eggert, say that Patriarch Kirill has suffered such a loss of reputation and control during the pandemic that his future as head of the Russian Orthodox Church is in doubt. Even if he survives in office, he will be increasingly irrelevant to the rest of the church.
Chaplin devotes his attention to the coronavirus deniers who are found among the Orthodox fundamentalists who have always viewed Kirill as a dangerous liberal. They have challenged the head of the church by holding services even after the patriarch told them not to lest the virus spread (theins.ru/opinions/215270
According to von Eggert, “the Patriarch has turned out to be alien for all: for the powers who see in him a weak and incompetent manager, for active believers in whose eyes he has betrayed ‘true Orthodoxy,’ and for a significant portion of the urban middle class, for whom the churchman is a rich member of the corrupt ruling elite and the enemy of science and progress.”
“Patriarch Kirill has suffered a defeat, as an administrator, as a de facto politician, and as a public figure. If the current regime possibly survives the pandemic, there are great doubts about the head of the ROC” after the coronavirus passes.” There are simply too many enemies who have too many reasons to oppose him to have confidence that he will survive.
“But even if purely formally, he keeps the patriarchal throne, the authority of the present ruler has taken such a shock over the last spring weeks that he will hardly be able to rule” as the occupant of that position is supposed to, von Eggert concludes.