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  • » 03/11/2015, 00.00


    Ukraine, Pope Francis, Charlie Hebdo: Patriarch Kirill releases his first wide-ranging interview with secular media

    Nina Achmatova

    The conversation with Tass is dedicated to the themes of Lent, but also to the war in Ukraine, schismatic Orthodox Churches and relations with the Catholic Church.

    Moscow (AsiaNews) - The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Kirill, has released his first interview with a secular magazine, choosing the official news agency Tass. Published on 10 March and dedicated to the period of Lent, the lengthy interview touches on various topical issues: the Mohammed cartoon, the war in Ukraine, relations between the Church and society, and also relations with the Catholic Church. The interview failed to provoke specific comments or clamor in the media, but is part of the broader effort to reaffirm the Church's presence in the secular life of the nation. In late January, for the first time, Kirill had intervened with a speech before the Duma, the lower house of parliament. Experts had then pointed out that in a time of economic and international crisis like the present, all institutions, especially religious ones, need to be mobilized.


    In the interview, the primate focuses on the value of repentance, explaining that a person who loses the ability to repent is "like a pianist who loses his musical ear". "In principle, you can try to execute the piece following the notes, but your execution will be terrible." "In Christianity it is the sacrament of reconciliation that helps a person to develop a sense of repentance, that is, to control their spiritual state," said Kirill. The Patriarch believes that the future of civilization depends on its religious life: the danger of transforming freedom it to something that is arbitrary appears when "there are no criteria of truth." "Not every human truth is God's truth and cannot be absolute," he said warning that "denying the absolute righteousness of God, we destroy the world."


    The Patriarch admitted that currently the issue that most concerns him is the war in Ukraine: "This does not let me sleep - both literally and figuratively." He said he is convinced that sooner or later the country will return to peace, but it is important to overcome mutual hostility: "we are calling on the conflicting sides in Ukraine to show prudence. The seeds of antagonism will grow with poisoned fruit in the future".

    Kirill returned to the theme of the divisions in the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, denouncing that the political and military situation is being exploited by the schismatic community and "a violent seizure" of the parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church is taking place in the country. " This is a huge mistake on the part of those who declared war on the Church in Ukraine," he added ensuring that the canonical Church in the former Soviet republic will not disappear and rejecting any notion of a schism from Moscow. The Church, he assured, is doing everything possible so that the conflict does not create new victims. " We do not exaggerate our capabilities, but we don't belittle them either".

    Charlie Hebdo

    Turning to the relationship between faith and society, Kirill described both terrorism and blasphemy as unacceptable. " We unambiguously condemn terrorism and killings of people for their convictions. We are grieving for those who suffered at the terrorists' hands. But along with it we find both pseudo-religious and secular radicalism unacceptable". Referring to the controversy surrounding the publication of cartoons about Islam, the Orthodox primate explained that the Church of Moscow believes "outrages on religion and defilements of religious feelings are inconceivable in the same way as insults in connection with someone's ethnic identity are." According to him, today's Europe is "choking" in trying to combine multiculturalism and liberal values ​​and Russia deserves praise because it had "sufficient common sense in legislation to prevent actions like publication of religious cartoons in the media. Regardless of what particular religion is concerned in each case "

    The Catholic Church and the Pope

    The Tass journalist notes to the Patriarch that the Catholic Church is considered less conservative than the Orthodox: " It is nice to hear the accusations against the Church for maintaining fidelity to its fundamental principles." The Eastern Orthodox and the Catholic faithful of Rome "belong to different nations with different ancient traditions." "Each of us needs to focus on our own affairs and should not interfere in those of the other."

    Questioned on modest lifestyle, chosen by Pope Francis, unlike the luxury of which the upper echelons of the Patriarchate of Moscow are often accused, Kirill replied: "I do not think I should comment on the style of conduct of the Primate of the Roman Catholic Church. And I am confident he would not make comments as regards me either. I have sincere respect for Pope Francis and for the fact he keeps up close bonds to the monastic tradition that molded him".



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    See also

    23/02/2015 UKRAINE - RUSSIA
    For Ukrainian Church, even the pope calls the conflict a civil war, something Kyiv does not acknowledge
    The head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church press service appreciates the "shared position" with the Church of Rome on the conflict in eastern Ukraine. He attacks the government, wondering whether it will now accuse the pope of being a subversive and ban him from the country.

    10/02/2016 14:47:00 RUSSIA - VATICAN
    Sergei Chapnin: The Russian Orthodox Church in 2016. The problem of understanding and credibility. Part Three

    The attentive Russian analyst points to some contradictions enveloping the Patriarchate, unable to understand the situation of the poor and of Russian society. Another problem: the traditional "collegiality" has given way to a top-down management.


    09/02/2016 15:07:00 RUSSIA – VATICAN
    Sergei Chapnin: The Russian Orthodox Church in 2016, and its economic failures (Part Two)

    Like the rest of Russian society, the Church too is in recession, suffering from financial losses and bank closures. Problems afflict the monasteries of Trinity-St Sergius Lavra and St Daniel. Lack of financial transparency is an issue whilst parishes are reduced to poverty. A gap exists in the lifestyle of city and country priests.

    08/02/2016 15:07:00 RUSSIA – VATICAN
    Notes on the Russian patriarch and Russian Church the pope will meet

    Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, whom the pope will meet in Cuba on 12 February, is transforming his communities by offering them younger bishops and a functioning curia with the Catholic Church as his model and Nikodim’s legacy as a precedent. The bureaucratisation and self-centredness are real risks.

    22/03/2012 UKRAINE - RUSSIA
    Greek-catholic Patriarch: Orthodox connivance with Stalin undermines our relations
    The Major Archbishop of Kiev, Sviatoslav Shevchuk, invites Russian Orthodox to recognize their complicity in the persecution of Catholics in the USSR. For the Moscow Patriarchate the Uniate situation is the biggest obstacle to the meeting between Kirill and Pope.

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