Moscow, Patriarch Kirill turns 75 and exalts Russian 'freedom'
The leader of the Orthodox Church claims "Russia is the true leader of the free world". Celebrated and honored by Putin. Hailed for his "evangelizing force". The worry of the schism with the Ukrainian Orthodox. His appeal against all tyrannies and warnings about the limits of super-technological civilization.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - "Today Russia is the true leader of the free world; we are free from the most insidious external influences, we evolve following our own path, and God willing it will be a path full of successes." These are the words released to a TV channel by the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Kirill (Gundjaev) on the occasion of his 75th birthday.
On the occasion, the Orthodox patriarch took stock of his long ministry and the development of the Church and society in Russia. Thanks to the Orthodox faith, in his opinion Russia is a free country, where there are no "divisive issues" that oppose the interests of the various components of society. He explains that a healthy mentality is widespread among Russians, which "does not destroy the foundations of human life and social structure."
On his birthday, which fell on Nov. 20, Kirill was congratulated by all civil and ecclesiastical authorities, starting with President Vladimir Putin, who awarded him the state order of St. Andrew Protoclitus, the highest civilian honor. Given the difficult national health condition due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the authorities postponed the liturgical celebrations planned for this jubilee until 2022.
In honor of the leadership of the Orthodox faithful, the state TV broadcast several celebratory programs: on the First channel Sergei Braverman's documentary "Do not be afraid of anyone but God", on Otr Leonid Mlečin's film "The 75 years of Patriarch Kirill" and on the religious channel Spas the first viewing of Arkadij Mamontov's film "The Patriarch's project", dedicated to the construction of new churches in Moscow. The program launched by Kirill at the beginning of his supreme ministry, more than 10 years ago, provides for 200 new churches in the capital - 100 of which have already been built - in order to live a "Church of proximity" to the outskirts of the metropolis.
Speaking on the evening of his birthday at the "TV marathon" in honor of Kirill, the former patriarchal secretary, protoierej Vladimir Vigilianskij exalted the figure of the patriarch, an "illustrious and generous" man, who took upon himself the responsibility of the Church precisely in the intense and turbulent period of the rebirth of faith after communism. According to Vigilianskij, Kirill's evangelizing energy "has no comparison either among the other local Orthodox Churches, or in the Catholic Church, where churches are closing, while we are building thousands of them".
Kirill maintains that Russia can be an example for all other countries, despite all the problems that still need to be solved: "Even among us there are differences, but they are normal different opinions, not destructive ideologies. The comparison can therefore be creative, allow the spread of new ideas, new projects aimed at the further growth of our homeland."
The Orthodox Patriarch also hoped that thanks to the dialogue it will be possible to overcome the ecclesiastical schism in Ukraine, the issue that worries him the most: "We ask God that the part of Orthodox Ukraine that has separated from the mother Church and has chosen division will not cloud its theological and dogmatic conscience, otherwise all hope will be lost". For now, he believes that reconciliation is still possible, thanks to the confrontation between the ministers of the two Churches.
Reiterating an appeal made several times in recent times, Kirill then admonished "all the leaders of societies to avoid any form of tyranny," specifying that the appeal "is addressed to all, to political leaders as well as ecclesiastical ones, to lay people and clergy at all levels."
The Orthodox leader concluded the interview by wishing for a quick exit from the tragedy of the pandemic, "a temporary test for humanity, to rethink its role and condition in the world." He recalled that "the Lord does not want to torment us for long, but we must be able to pass through these critical periods, to understand that we cannot solve everything with the tools of our super-technological civilization; it takes time, effort and a lot of faith."