What is the Russian Church thinking?
Why does the Russian Orthodox Church seem so uncritically behind Putin’s invasion of Ukraine? Meic Pearse explains
The willingness of the Russian Orthodox Church to back Putin’s ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine is rightly shocking to most Westerners. Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus’, is a fervent supporter of Putin, describing his coming to power as ‘a miracle of God’. Like Putin, Kirill was also a KGB agent even as he rose through the ranks of the Russian Orthodox Church during the Soviet period. Since being installed as Patriarch in 2009, he has backed all of Putin’s military adventures.
A decade ago, as the 90-year-old Mikhail Kalashnikov neared his death, the creator of the world’s most successful rifle was conscience-stricken about the countless people worldwide who had been killed by his invention. But Patriarch Kirill reassured him that he was ‘an example of patriotism and a correct attitude toward the country … When the weapon is in defense of the Fatherland, the Church supports its creators and the military, which use it.’
And so it is little surprise that in a sermon on 6 March this year, Kirill characterised the war in Ukraine as ‘a struggle that has not a physical but a metaphysical significance’ against ‘those who claim world power’ and their ‘so-called values’. The levelling of Ukrainian cities, then, was justified by the need to level accounts with the bossy West…
Meic Pearse is Emeritus Professor of History at Houghton College, New York, but lives in Osijek, Croatia, where he continues to pen historical works designed to put the world finally to rights
This is an extract from an article published in the September 2022 edition of Reform