In the Moscow Times, Leonid Sevastyanov and Robert Moynihan write that the new Russian Patriarch Kirill “has deep convictions about the role of the Christian faith in the future of Russia and about Russia’s role in the future of Europe and the world.” The writers say that the Patriarch is convinced that only a return to “real values” can enable Russia and Europe to confront the current economic crisis. “Moreover,” the authors say, Patriarch Kirill “believes that Russia’s greatness, eclipsed in recent years, can only be restored by renewing its ancient Orthodox faith.”
Given his relatively young age, 62, Kirill could be patriarch for the next generation. He will undoubtedly set out to fulfill a double agenda. First, he will want to build on what Alexy II accomplished during the 18 years of his patriarchate, continuing the rebuilding of the church’s ruined infrastructure. Thousands of churches have been rebuilt across Russia since 1991. Second, he could start a series of new initiatives to strengthen the church’s voice and influence in Russian society.
The new patriarch can be expected to reopen schools, expand seminaries, renew monasteries and in general restore the outward signs of Russian Orthodox religious life. But Kirill, who was the key figure behind the unprecedented promulgation of the church’s social teaching in a document in 2000, can also be expected to take bold new steps to go beyond renewing the institutional structure of the church.
Russian-American blogger Typicon Man lists the “important issues” facing the new Patriarch, beginning with Parish Life.
Implementing the Parish Bylaws of the 1917-1918 Local Council and the normalization of parish life, destroyed during the years of state persecution. This will mean first and foremost the resolution of property issues — the State must finally return to parishes all property confiscated from the Church following the Bolshevik Revolution. This will mean keeping a register of parishioners, creating parish assemblies and parish councils to administer internal parish affairs as well as the further development of parish schools, libraries, and the like.
Also worth a look is this analysis by two longtime observers of the Russian Church — Aleksander Dvorkin and Andrey Zolotov.