Patriarch Kirill of Moscow

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Patriarch Kirill of Russia at a Bishop Council in Moscow, 2013

Kirill or Cyril (Russian: Кирилл, Church Slavonic: Ст҃ѣ́йшїй патрїа́рхъ кѷрі́ллъ, secular name Vladimir Mikhailovich Gundyayev, Russian: Владимир Михайлович Гундяев; born 20 November 1946) is a Russian Orthodox bishop. He became Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus' and Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church on 1 February 2009.


  • Unlike the West, which is already nervous about the arrival of refugees, Moscow alone has taken in more Muslims than the whole of Europe has done by now. And nobody in the world is aware of it. And there is no hysteria, no police, no gas, no physical clashes. Of course, problems do arise sometimes with people who arrive but these problems get solved within the law, and most importantly, the good Orthodox-Muslim relations are creating an atmosphere for Muslims here to live peacefully and for the Orthodox to treat Muslims respectfully, with tolerance, like brothers. You probably felt what remarkable, good relations have developed between the Orthodox people and Muslims in Russia. We are very glad that finally this big mosque has been built in the city of Moscow to become a place of prayer for many Muslims who live in Moscow and visit Moscow.
    • 24 September 2015 at a meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas at his residence in Peredelkino, Moscow Region.
Why can't Russia share its spiritual gifts?
  • Radical Islam, by the grace of God, is not spreading across Russia. These and other radically-minded people pose a huge danger to Russia. This is why everything that happens in the Middle East, in Syria, Iraq, Libya, concerns us very closely.
    • 24 September 2015 at a meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas at his residence in Peredelkino, Moscow Region.
  • The existence of Russia is of a great spiritual and cultural value – not only for you and me, but for all humanity. And we are calling for the preservation of the people of Russia, for the birth of our new compatriots, not only and not so much because these people are needed by the country, but also to a great extent because this country is needed by people. Russia must exist and play its irreplaceable role in our destiny with you, in the destiny of our descendants and throughout world history.

    The special value of Russia, its special vocation is to be a stronghold of Orthodox Christianity. To preserve the Orthodox faith, Orthodox tradition and culture, Christian moral principles intact. Maybe that is why the powers that be are so ganged up on the Russian Orthodox Church, wanting to tear away the Greek Orthodox world from the Russian Church, wanting to destroy the unity of the Orthodox Church. We possess reliable information that everything that is happening now in world Orthodoxy is not an accident, not just the whim of a religious figure whose mind has become clouded. This is the implementation of a very specific plan that aims to tear the Greek world away from Russia. According to the perpetrators — I cannot describe these strategists in any other way — the Russian Church appears to be some kind of “soft power”, through which Russia influences the world around it. But why can’t Russia share its spiritual gifts? Is it criminal? This can be criminal only in the view of those who seek to weaken, and if possible to destroy the influence of Russia. In this whole story related to the problem of recognition or non-recognition of Ukrainian schismatics by the Local Orthodox Churches, there is something that is not declared, but which is the main goal of the forces behind the scenes that unleashed this schismatic activity. We in the Russian Church understand this clearly, but today our brothers in Greece and other Orthodox Churches also understand this. We are being asked to resist, not to flinch, to continue the struggle to maintain the spiritual independence of the Russian Orthodox Church from all these centres of world influence, and most importantly – to maintain the unity of Universal Orthodoxy. This is not a simple task. The Church has no army. The Church has no material means. So it is not easy without material means to build the spiritual defense.
  • If you cannot raise your child, whom you have given birth to or are ready to do it, – do not kill your child, give birth to him and give him to us, the Church, and we will do everything to raise and to help your child to stand on his own feet, and we will never prevent you, his mother, from visiting him, from feeling unity with your child. On the contrary, we will do everything to strengthen your family, albeit incomplete, but valuable for both God and for our entire Motherland.
  • We are truly a free country. This is a real fact. I can imagine the types of reaction to my words from different corners, but I can prove that Russia today is the true leader of the free world. We are developing in accordance with our own path and, by God’s will, our path shall be successful.
  • We currently do not have a hot-button issue that would make societal interests collide and produce deep, irreconcilable contradictions. I believe it is the grace of God.
  • I take the suffering of people caused by the events taking place with deep and heartfelt pain. I call on all parties to the conflict to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties. I appeal to the bishops, pastors, monastics, and laity to provide all possible assistance to all victims, including refugees and people left homeless and without means of livelihood. The Russian and Ukrainian peoples have a common centuries-old history dating back to the Baptism of Rus’ by Prince St. Vladimir the Equal-to-the-Apostles. I believe that this God-given affinity will help overcome the divisions and disagreements that have arisen that have led to the current conflict. I call on the entire fullness of the Russian Orthodox Church to offer a special, fervent prayer for the speedy restoration of peace. May the All-merciful Lord, through the intercession of our Most Pure Lady the Theotokos and all the saints, preserve the Russian, Ukrainian, and other peoples who are spiritually united by our Church!

Quotes about Kirill


A letter signed by 400 orthodox priests, condemning the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine:

  • Today, when Moscow Patriarch Kirill openly supports Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, we, the priests of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, have decided to appeal to the Council of Primates of the Ancient Eastern Churches against Patriarch Kirill.
Our main accusations:
Kirill preaches the doctrine of the “Russian world”, which does not correspond to Orthodox teachings and should be condemned as heresy;
Kirill committed moral crimes, blessing the war against Ukraine and fully supporting the aggressive actions of Russian troops in Ukraine.
  • We, the priests of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in these tragic days, when the brutal war of the Russian Federation against Ukraine continues, consider it our pastoral duty to address the fullness of World Orthodoxy.
  • On February 24, 2022, Russian troops invaded the territory of the sovereign Ukrainian state without declaring war. The military aggression has been going on for more than a month. Russian troops are systematically destroying not only military infrastructure, but also housing estates, civilian enterprises, schools, hospitals, theaters, etc. Ukraine’s economy is suffering heavy losses. But our greatest sorrow is that thousands of civilians have died during the war. The actions of the Russian army around Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Okhtyrka, Gostomel, Vorzel, and especially Mariupol and Bucha have obvious signs of genocide against the Ukrainian people and are causing outrage around the world.
  • Moreover, since the beginning of the war, Patriarch Kirill has repeatedly made public statements that contained de facto support for the Russian Federation’s aggressive actions against Ukraine. On March 13, 2022, during the liturgy in the Church of Christ the Savior, Patriarch Kirill presented the Commander-in-Chief of the National Guard of the Russian Federation VV Zolotov with an icon of the Mother of God and gave his blessing to the employees of this state military organization. In his speech of thanks, VV Zolotov directly said that the troops of the National Guard of the Russian Federation are taking an active part in the war waged by Russia against Ukraine today. At the same time, he called the Armed Forces of Ukraine “Nazis.” After hearing Zolotov’s words, the patriarch did not object. Patriarch Kirill’s blessing of the Russian National Guard was an unequivocal endorsement of the war waged by the Russian Federation against Ukraine.
  • Despite the fact that Patriarch Kirill for many years in his public statements (including during visits to Ukraine) stated that he considers the Orthodox Christians of Ukraine to be his flock for which he is responsible, today he directly blesses the physical destruction of this flock by Russians troops.
  • The actions of Patriarch Kirill caused mass outrage among the clergy and the faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. At least fifteen dioceses of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church have already officially announced that they will stop commemorating Patriarch Kirill during Church services. We know that in many other dioceses the ruling bishops gave verbal permission to the clergy not to mention the name of Patriarch Cyril. Thus, bishops, priests, and ordinary parishioners of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church expressed their unequivocal distrust of Patriarch Kirill.
  • We clearly state that it is impossible for us to continue to be in any form of canonical subordination to the Moscow Patriarch. This is what our Christian conscience dictates.
  • We see the brutal actions of the Russian army against the Ukrainian people, which are actually approved by Patriarch Kirill. As pastors of the Church, and simply as Christians, we have always been, are, and will be with our people, with those who suffer and need help. We fully support the Ukrainian state authorities and the Armed Forces of Ukraine in their fight against the aggressor.
  • At the same time, Patriarch Kirill (as well as numerous bishops and priests in Russia) directly violate the norms of the Fundamentals of the Social Doctrine. In particular, this document clearly states that the Church cannot provide assistance to the state and cooperate with it if the state is waging an aggressive foreign war (III). Today, the actions of the Russian Federation against Ukraine are nothing but an aggressive foreign war. This fact is recognized by the whole world community. In particular, on March 2, 2022, 141 countries supported the resolution of the UN General Assembly condemning Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. But both Patriarch Kirill and the numerous clergy in Russia continue to support the aggressive foreign policy of the Russian Federation. Thus, the position of the Moscow Patriarchate on the war against Ukraine does not correspond to the norms of Christian morality, or even to its own normative documents.
  • In 2021, in an interview on the occasion of his 75th birthday, Patriarch Kirill said: “For me, as the Patriarch of All Russia, there is no division into nations and states, but the flock of the Russian Orthodox Church” ( Although Patriarch Kirill has always stressed that he does not question the existing state borders, he nevertheless stated that these borders “create unnecessary obstacles between the peoples of the Russian world” ( ).
  • All these statements are in full agreement with Russian state propaganda, which rejects the very fact of the existence of the Ukrainian nation and Ukrainian culture, and therefore does not actually recognize the right of Ukrainians to their own statehood. Thus, the doctrine of “Russian Peace “, which has been promoted for many years by Patriarch Kirill, today helps to justify Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine.
The Patriarch [Kirill] cannot transform himself into Putin's altar boy.
~ His Holiness Pope Francis

A letter from Human Rights Without Frontiers, asking the International Criminal Court of Justice to prosecute Kirill for War crimes and Crimes against humanity:

  • Human Rights Without Frontiers, a Brussels-based NGO, appeals to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim A. A. Khan QC, to hold personally accountable and prosecute Vladimir Mikhaïlovitch Goundiaïev, known as Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia,
for inspiring, inciting, justifying, aiding and abetting war crimes (Art. 8 of the Rome Statute) and crimes against humanity (Art. 7) perpetrated and being perpetrated by the Russian armed forces in Ukraine.

A resolution from the European Parliament:

  • The European Parliament,
Condemns the role of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, for providing theological cover for Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine;
praises the courage of the 300 priests of the Russian Orthodox Church who have signed a letter condemning the aggression, grieving over the ordeal of the Ukrainian people and asking to "stop the war"

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