Sunday, October 15, 2023

Patriarch Kirill Shifts Two Church Hierarchs who had Attracted Too Much Attention to Themselves

 Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 13 – Like Vladimir Putin, Moscow Patriarch Kirill is not pleased when his subordinates attract too much public attention lest they detract what he receives; and so at the most recent meeting of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Synod, two such church hierarchs, Metropolitan Tikhon from Pskov to Crimea and Metropolitan Leonid from his African duties.

            Because Tikhon has long been known as Putin’s favorite clergyman and because as a result, many have viewed him as the likely successor to Kirill, his shift has attracted more attention than that of Metropolitan Leonid (

            By moving Tikhon from Pskov to Crimea, Kirill has placed him further from Moscow and thus made it more difficult for leaders like Putin to visit him and more difficult for Tikhon to interact with the media and call attention to himself. And Kirill has rotated him in such a way that once again Tikhon hasn’t acquired a position that would position him for more advancement.

            But by removing Leonid from his African portfolio, although with the kind of praise that suggests Kirill was not entirely unhappy with his work, Tikhon and the Kremlin behind him may be setting the stage for the appointment of a more experienced church leader to handle that portfolio and thus a further expansion of ROC MP work in Africa.

            The other possibility, of course, is that the Kremlin may have decided to lower the temperature of inter-Orthodox disputes and thus wants the Russian church to assume a lower profile in Africa and thereby reduce conflicts with the rest of the Orthodox world. Only when a successor to Leonid is announced will it be possible to say which of these directions is true.

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