Met. Kirill named Patriarch of Russian Orthodox Church

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.”


  1. I wish the patriarch well. I hope that he guides the flock with wisdom. He certainly has a lot of work to do. Russian society is not spiritually or morally strong — or stable. It will take generations to undo the damage of the last century.

    However, I am concerned, as Patriarch-elect Kirill has voiced some disturbing opinions over the years in odd, secular (namely, Hegelian) language. He is fond of using the word “contradiction” in the Marxist sense. Perhaps, anyone educated in the Soviet regime shares those habits of vocabulary, but they make me nervous, all the same — especially when he buddies up with atheist dictators on foreign trips. Moreover, he has been Russia’s chief ecumenical liason for two decades. I do not wish to offend anyone, but I do not look to the WCC’s favorite Orthodox bishops with much hope for a robust defense of the faith. I hope that his work has all been a matter of ecclesial diplomacy. Political and diplomatic cleverness are dangerous in the wicked, but quite useful in the good. Be wise as serpents, right?

    If his heart and mind are in the right place, he can be a powerful tool for God. He is bright, diplomatic, and apparently hard-working. If Patriach Alexy’s role was to stabilize and reunite the Russian Church after the fall of the Communists, perhaps Patriarch Kirill will actually help it take root in the heart of every Russian. There is much to harvest.


  2. The meeting could be a way for the parctarihs of Moscow and Constantinople to establish common ground on two issues of crucial importance: administration of the Orthodox churches in North America, and resolving the schism of the Orthodox churches in Ukraine. These two issues have deepened the fissure between the two patriarchates, and their peaceful resolution would allow all involved to move forward.Unity among Orthodox in North America has long been desired by laity and, for the most part, has ended with disappointment. The non-US parctarihs have already made moves to change the North American scene by establishing a new episcopal council, which replaces, and mostly duplicates, SCOBA. If the Orthodox could achieve any real unity here, in North America, and pool resources for theological education, dialogue, translations, and so on, it would only benefit Catholic-Orthodox, and indeed all, ecumenical dialogue.

Care to Comment?