Assigned to the See of Vladikavkaz and Alanja in the North Caucasus. The number of Orthodox dioceses has doubled in the last decade: from 159 to 318, of which 199 in the country; the others in the rest of the world. Kirill: Russia's survival is "a miracle of Mary". The evangelizing passion of the Russian Church.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - Orthodox Patriarch Kirill (Gundjaev) celebrated the Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God in the Cathedral of the Most Holy Saviour in Moscow, emerging from isolation to protect against the coronavirus, which in Russia continues to claim thousands of victims among the population and also among the Orthodox clergy.
During the ceremony, the Patriarch consecrated Archimandrite Gerasim (Ševtsov) as bishop, assigning him the see of Vladikavkaz and Alanja in the North Caucasus. The Oct. 14 ordination is the 200th episcopal ordination of Kirill, who has sat on the patriarchal throne since January 2009.
The head of the Russian Orthodox proudly illustrated the growth of the national Church in the last decade, in which the number of dioceses has doubled from 159 to 318, 199 of which are in Russia and the rest throughout the world, beginning with the former Soviet countries where the presence of inhabitants of Russian origin is still very significant.
On October 15, the Patriarchal Synod established a new diocese in Armenia, the territory of the local Apostolic Church, with the consent of which the Russians are now gathered in the eparchy of Yerevan and Armenia. The decision had been agreed by Kirill with the katolikos Karekin II, who in recent days had gone to Moscow for an ecumenical prayer in favor of peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The Russian patriarch explained that "I do not speak of these successes to exalt my role, but to emphasize that the new dioceses refelct the real need among our people for the development of ecclesiastical life, there would be no new dioceses". Congratulating the faithful present, Kirill praised the perseverance in the faith of the Orthodox people despite all trials and difficulties, which allows them to "cherish the roots that give us life, connect us to our history and ancestors, to the holy martyrs, ascetics and pastors, and the depth of these roots nourishes us with its powerful spiritual energy. May the Russian Orthodox Church grow from spiritual strength!"
In the homily dedicated to the feast, the Protection of Mary was illustrated as "intercession, defense and maternal love" for the Russian Church, the only one to celebrate this particular liturgical memory. In fact, it deals with a paradoxical historical event: the vision of Mary spreading her mantle over the city of Constantinople, threatened by the invasion of the still pagan Russians at the beginning of the 9th century. The Byzantines, however, did not preserve this recurrence, which subsists only in the calendar of the Russian Church, celebrating the transfiguration from pagan assailants to faithful defenders of the true faith.
In this sense, the Patriarch recalled the renewal of such a miracle in the 20th century, when Russians had again turned into enemies of the faith after the Bolshevik revolution: "The Russian people have been threatened many times by enemies, both from outside and inside, in the internal struggles of ancient Rus' and modern Russia." According to Kirill, history teaches that Russians must never betray their faith, "despite all temptations, weaknesses, pseudo-scientific demonstrations or tribunes' proclamations, and with our prayers we preserve the Protection of the Heavenly Queen on our land."
The patriarch stressed that Russia's survival is "a miracle of Mary," because "according to all logic we should not even exist anymore," after revolutions, civil wars and assaults of the most terrible enemies, such as Hitler's Nazis. Kirill recalled the self-sacrificing capacity of the Russians and its military commanders, but "on our own we could not have done it."
The continued growth of the Moscow Patriarchate is linked to the exceptional multiplication of episcopal sees by Patriarch Kirill, for which he is often criticized, choosing candidates from among the younger monks who are more attached to his person. Not infrequently, they cause scandals due to their inevitable frailties, and are often shifted seats according to changes in the mood of the supreme guide. Nevertheless, Mary's protection allows the Russian Church to renew itself and to bear great witness to its faith and evangelizing passion throughout the world.