Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad has been elected head of the Russian Orthodox Church. He will become the 16th Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.
The International Herald Tribune described him as “an articulate critic of declining moral values in the modern world who has been actively involved in the ecumenical movement and [has] called for the Russian Orthodox Church to step up its outreach in secular society … ” Novosti said the 62-year-old Metropolitan “received 508 votes, and the second candidate, Metropolitan Kliment of Kaluga and Borovsk – 169 votes. A total of 700 ballots were cast in the vote, with 23 recognized as invalid.” He is expected to be enthroned on Sunday and his term of office is lifelong.
The Moscow Times highlighted Metropolitan Kirill’s ecumenical work, noting that he is “an experienced diplomat who has been the church’s point man in often-difficult negotiations with other churches, prompting speculation that he might take steps to improve ties with the Roman Catholic Church, which have been fraught with rivalry for years.” The paper said Kirill seemed to dampen such hopes in an address just before Tuesday’s vote, complaining about Catholic and other missionaries working in Russia.
“We have noted with bitterness that members of the Catholic clergy and monastic orders are among the newly formed enlighteners of Rus,” he said, Interfax reported.
Kirill also criticized “the assault of aggressive Western secularism against Christianity” and “attempts by some Protestant groups to revise the teachings of Christianity and evangelical morality.”
The Times of London said the Metropolitan he has been “tainted by allegations” that he was a KGB agent, codenamed Mikhailov, under the Communist regime. “He became known as the ‘Tobacco Metropolitan’ in the mid1990s when he was embroiled in a scandal over the import and sale of billions of duty-free cigarettes to raise funds for humanitarian aid. Kirill is a charismatic and popular figure in Russia, with a wide following as the presenter of a weekly television programme on religious affairs. He is regarded as a moderniser and the Church’s most able diplomat, having led its powerful department for external relations since 1989.”