Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Kirill’s Support for Putin’s War has Harmed Russian Orthodox Church More than Collapse of the Soviet Union Did, Mitrokhin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Dec. 8 – Patriarch Kirill’s support for Vladimir Putin’s expanded invasion of Ukraine has harmed the Russian Orthodox Church more than did the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Nikolay Mitrokhin says, further costing the Moscow Patriarchate influence inside Russia and its control of churches beyond Russia’s borders.

            In a 10,000-word article, the distinguished specialist on Orthodoxy and religious affairs inside the Russian Federation argues that Kirill’s decision to back Putin is the result of his personal inclinations rather than those of the church as a whole which is as divided on the war as is Russian society (

            But both Kirill’s position and that of others in the church both clerical and lay is the product of efforts to find compromises between what the patriarch would prefer as far as he personally is concerned and desires by him and others to minimize the damage that support inflicts on the Moscow church within the broader Orthodox world.

            “Such maneuvering,” however, Mitrokhin argues, “has not been able to prevent either the destruction of a number of church institutions as a result of the war or the falling away of a number of autonomous churches from the Moscow Patriarchate.” And there is no reason to think that this trend will not intensify in the future.

            Kirill himself bears heavy responsibility for this, the expert on the church says, and thus for the ROC MP’s loss of its long-claimed “universal” character and its reduction to “the boundaries of Putin’s political empire,” something many in the church can see and do not welcome at all.

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