Staunton, April 24 – Russians have traditionally considered Kyiv the first center of Russian Orthodox civilization, but Patriarch Kirill says they must focus first and foremost on Moscow rather than on any other center of power in order to ensure the unity of the country at a time of trial.
“Today,” the head of the ROC MP says, “our people especially need internal unity … and therefore our people today should especially rally about the city of Moscow, this historical center of all Russia, out of a recognition that our strength is only in unity” and that as long as we are united, we will be strong (ng.ru/faith/2022-04-25/2_8426_patriarch.html).
All too many people, the Russian churchman says, now “want to sow confusion in Russia and instill their ‘pseudo-values,’’ by shifting a person’s consciousness from the vertical dimension of life which connects a person with God to the horizontal on which all the needs of the body are based.”
Kirill chose to make this declaration as he noted in the Kremlin’s Uspensky Cathedral which was built in the 15th century as a sign of the unification of Russian lands, a development that was underscored by the shift in church life first from Kyiv to Vladimir and then from Vladimir to Moscow.
The cathedral was built by Metropolitan Petr, who began life in Volhynia, which is now part of Western Ukraine, but then moved to Vladimir and finally to Moscow. Kirill noted that Petr’s peregrinations were opposed by the patriarch of Constantinople but made possible when the ruler of Moscow received recognition from the Golden Horde which had become Muslim.
In reporting this, Andrey Melnikov, the editor of NG-Religii, observes that “since in modern Russian politics, historical concepts often assume the character of manifestos or even guides for action, Kirill’s sermon should be read in the context of Moscow’s current conflict with the West and its existential turn to the East.”
The patriarch’s words thus provide religious support for Putin’s foreign and domestic policies, his efforts to create a power vertical at home and to destroy Ukraine and ties to the West in favor of ties to the East abroad.