Staunton, Mar. 7 – The Moscow Patriarchate has insisted and most people have accepted the idea that Kirill has expanded the presence of the Russian Orthodox Church in Africa to punish the Alexandria Patriarchate for recognizing Ukrainian autocephaly (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2022/02/are-orthodox-church-wars-going-to.html).
But the timing of Moscow’s decision and indeed the way in which the Russian church is using funds to buy its way into Africa where most parishes and dioceses are very poor suggests that this Russian claim should be dismissed, according to Moscow commentator Dmitry Gorevoy (trtrussian.com/mnenie/ekspansiya-rpc-v-afriku-agenty-vliyaniya-pod-prikrytiem-8155186).
If Kirill had wanted to use this violation of Orthodox cannon law about the division of responsibilities in the world among various patriarchates because of Ukraine, the Russian church leader should have acted in 2019 when the Ecumenical Patriarch extended autocephaly to the Orthodox of Ukraine.
Instead, he has made this move over the course of the last several months. And it is obvious that the places Moscow has bought off local Alexandrian parishes and bishoprics just happen to be locations of particular interest to the FSB and Russia’s “private” military companies, Gorevoy says.
The Russian church has a long history of providing cover for Soviet and Russian intelligence officers working abroad, and it is clear that this move into Africa has little or nothing to do with Ukraine and the Orthodox world and everything to do with the Kremlin’s desire to expand its footprint in Africa, the analyst concludes.