In the New York Times, Sophia Kishkovsky files a report on Patriarch Kirill’s recent youth rallies in Moscow and St. Petersburg where he struck both nationalist and highly personal tones.
Patriarch Kirill also did not mention America, but said immoral economies are doomed to collapse. “An economic system built only on the striving for profit, on indifference to the fate of people, on disregard for moral norms, is deprived of stability and can collapse at any moment, burying the fate of people under its rubble,” he said.
Here in St. Petersburg, Patriarch Kirill struck a much more personal tone. He made a generous reference to Martin Luther King Jr. — whom Kirill said he met in 1968 — and his “I Have a Dream” speech, and stressed the importance of true love and of striving for ideals.
“He wasn’t a dreamer, he was a brilliant politician, orator, and Christian pastor,” Patriarch Kirill said of Dr. King, addressing some 8,000 students. “But he had a dream, and this dream led to very concrete achievements.”
Some analysts compliment the patriarch for his charisma:
To some Russian observers, Patriarch Kirill has taken a page from Pope John Paul II, who was often regarded with suspicion by Russian church men.
“He is copying John Paul II, who had charisma,” said Anatoly Krasikov, director of the Center for Religious and Social Studies of the Institute of Europe in Moscow and formerly a journalist on Vatican affairs for the state-run Itar-Tass news agency. “Kirill is the only Orthodox figure here who has that gift.”
In Moscow and St. Petersburg, aspects of Patriarch Kirill’s rallies suggested at least an element of coercion. The stiffer Moscow gathering evoked meetings of the Kremlin youth movement, Nashi (Ours), while in St. Petersburg students said they had been encouraged, though not forced, to attend by their colleges, which had informed them of the meeting anywhere from two weeks to hours before the event. Two young women were seen outside meeting their dean, who was distributing tickets. While they had been asked to attend, they considered it an honor.
Read “New Orthodox Patriarch Pulls No Punches” here.