By Serhii Shumylo*
In his new anti-evangelical “theology of war,” Moscow Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev reaches a new low. Each time he issues a statement or gives a sermon, it seems that there is nowhere lower to go, but over the past six months, with each new sermon, this “priest of the pagan god of war” descends yet deeper into paganism and even Satanism. This time, justifying the mobilization in the Russian Federation min the war against Ukraine and the Ukrainian people, the patriarch of Moscow voiced anti-Christian theses that, from the standpoint of Orthodox theology, fall under the concept of heresy.
On September 25, the Patriarch of Moscow deliberately manipulated and distorted the meaning and content of Gospel quotations. Taking them out of context, he delivered a heretical teaching from the standpoint of Orthodoxy. The essence of this teaching is that the Russian military commits a kind of “atoning sacrifice” and that in the event of a soldier’s death, this “sacrifice washes away all the sins that man has committed.” Moreover, he compared the mobilization (that is, the deliberate sending of his own people to their deaths) with the voluntary atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the salvation of mankind.
Among other things, Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev stated the following from the pulpit: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16). He gave Himself for what? To death! …Sacrifice is the greatest expression of the best of human qualities. We know that today many die in the fields of strife… The Church understands that if someone, moved by a sense of duty, by the need to fulfill an oath, remains faithful to his calling and dies in the performance of military duty, he is undoubtedly committing an act tantamount to sacrifice. He sacrifices himself for others.
And therefore we believe that this sacrifice washes away all the sins one has committed” (Sermon of September 25, 2022.
Even earlier, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow had similarly urged Russian servicemen: “Go bravely to fulfill your military duty and remember that if you have laid down your life for your homeland, for your friends, as the Holy Scriptures say, you will be with God in His kingdom, in His glory, in His eternal life”.
The day before Putin launched his war against Ukraine, on February 23, 2022, Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev once again made a special appeal and blessed the Russian army “to be ready to fight back against the enemy” “on the borders of our Fatherland”.
Two weeks after the outbreak of war, Patriarch Kirill declared: “we have entered a struggle which has not only physical, but metaphysical significance” (sermon of 6 March 2022). During the next eight months of the Russian war against Ukraine, he continued to formulate his own “theology of war” and “sacred” justification of Russian aggression against Ukraine in his messages and appeals.
Such statements and calls for “sacrifice” fundamentally contradict the spirit and letter of the Gospel and the Orthodox doctrine. After all, according to Orthodox doctrine, only repentance and communion wash away a person’s sins. No death “in the performance of military duty” (let alone in a war of aggression!) is automatically capable of atoning or washing away a person’s sins. No “indulgence” from the patriarch or Synod can provide this.
Such a war is “Cain’s mortal sin,” for which those who commit it are subject to ecclesiastical condemnation and excommunication. Therefore, if any “kingdom” is guaranteed to them, it is clearly not God’s (heaven), but the devil’s (hell). And comparing the deaths of the Russian military with the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, to which God the Father sent His Son to atone for the sins of mankind, and the actual call for parents to give their children as willingly as they did to the “sacrifice that washes away all sins,” is blatant blasphemy and abuse. Such a dogmatic and doctrinal departure from Orthodox doctrine is unprecedented in the history of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC).
The Shahidism of the “Russian World” and the “Orthodox Caliphate” of Patriarch Kirill
Clearly, the Patriarch of Moscow professes an unorthodox doctrine. He is creating some new heretical creed of his own, a doctrine contrary to the teachings of the Orthodox Church. In particular, the ideas of “atoning sacrifice” for fallen Russian soldiers he proclaims are nothing more than a borrowing of the ideas of shahidism from the radical-fundamentalist currents of the Islamic world, according to which a warrior (mujahid) who dies during a war with “infidels” (jihad) receives automatic forgiveness of sins and goes to “heaven”.
At the same time, the “guarantee” of entering “paradise” is the fight against “infidels,” and not against one’s own co-religionists, as is the case with Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev, who essentially calls for the destruction of his own Orthodox flock from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC MP).
It is worth noting that “shahidism” is not the ideology of all of Islam, but only of certain Islamist extremist political currents of the radical-fundamentalist variety, and is usually applied to suicide bombers. Consequently, it has nothing to do with Christianity and Christian sacrifice.
The Patriarch of Moscow has also made other non-Orthodox statements. For example, in justifying the aggressive policy of the Russian Federation as a “metaphysical struggle of good against evil”, he expressed an almost Islamic understanding of the meaning of forgiveness: “Forgiveness without justice is surrender and weakness. Forgiveness must therefore be accompanied by the indispensable preservation of the right to stand on the side of light” (sermon of 6 March 2022).
Not the Gospel truths of “love thy neighbour”, “do not kill”, “turn the other cheek”, “if we do not forgive, then God will not forgive us”, but an entirely different approach, unknown to the Gospel: “forgiveness without justice is surrender and weakness”. This thought, foreign to the teachings of Christ, is much closer to Islam: “Know that forgiving the one who wronged you is not always commendable” (Salasatul-usul Sharh of Sheikh Muhammad ibn Salih al-‘Usaymin, Tafsir, Sura 42, Ayat 40); “Forgiveness and reconciliation are acceptable only when they benefit the wrongdoer. But if the offender does not deserve forgiveness and it is appropriate to call him to account for the crime he committed, the Shariah does not call on the victim to forgive the offender” (Abd al-Rahman bin Nasir As-Saadi, Tafsir of the Koran, Sura 42, ayat 40).
How could the radical ideas of Islamic fundamentalism and shahidism penetrate the environment of the Moscow Patriarchate and its leader? If we analyze the actions and statements of Kirill Gundyaev as Moscow Patriarch, everything becomes obvious: he has long had an undisguised interest in Islam. According to his own confession, what attracts him most of all to Islam is that “the Muslim world is a strong world.”
According to Kirill Gundyaev: “We have a common moral basis: Orthodox and Muslims. It is important for us to work together to strengthen morality in society … Once our president was asked about the attitude of Orthodoxy to Catholic Christianity and Islam, and the president replied: “We, the Orthodox, are closer to Islam. And he was right,” the head of the Russian Orthodox Church continued, “in the sense that in terms of tradition and basics of moral life, we are closer to Islam today than some Western Christians, who are currently moving away from traditional morality”.
According to the Moscow Patriarch, he is attracted by the fact that, unlike political-correlated Western Christianity, Islam continues to maintain a “fairly concrete ethic” and an “uncompromising tradition.” In his opinion, Western Christianity, unlike Islam, is now experiencing a “deep crisis” because “the Church stops telling people clearly and distinctly what is good and what is evil, it stops being needed”.
At a meeting of the Supreme Church Council of the Russian Orthodox Church on March 26, 2021, Patriarch Kirill said: “We need to constantly monitor everything that happens in the sphere of church relations with Islam and make adjustments to this trajectory, filling our relations with new content if necessary. In the face of the increasing challenges of the secular world, it is important to strengthen our solidarity… We have many topics to work on together, and we must make use of the common interests arising from the social, political and cultural context in which we all find ourselves today. Therefore it seems necessary to develop interaction with Islam both in the countries of canonical responsibility of the Russian Orthodox Church and throughout the world”.
For this purpose, a special Expert Council for Interaction with the Islamic World was created and remains active under the Moscow Patriarchate; its members study and try to partially adopt the experience of the Islamic world. Specialists from the so-called World Russian People’s Council (WRPC), headed by Patriarch Kirill, are also engaged in developing an Islamic-Orthodox dialogue and studying the experience of Islamic civilization. Also at the initiative of the “Economy and Ethics” Council under the Moscow Patriarchate, in 2011 theologians and bankers began to study and discuss the experience of Islamic banking and the possibility of its introduction in Russia under the guise of so-called “Orthodox banking” as an alternative to Western standards and methods of banking.
As can be seen, the experts close to Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev, those who prepare reports, policy briefs, justifications and sermons for him, are seriously engaged in studying the experience of Islam in various spheres. Having themselves a penchant for militant fundamentalism, they choose the ideology of Islamic extremist political movements as an example to follow. This explains the fact that the newest hybrid ideology of the Moscow patriarch, among other things, also reflects borrowed fundamentalist ideas from the “Islamic world”, in particular such extremist movements as “Islamic State” (IS or ISIS) and others.
A prime example can be found in the statement of the late Archpriest Dmitry Smirnov, one-time chairman of the Patriarchal Commission on the Family, member of the Supreme Church Council of the Russian Orthodox Church and chairman of the Synodal Department of the Russian Orthodox Church for Cooperation with the Armed Forces and Law Enforcement Agencies of the Russian Federation (2001–2013): “The modern Muslim wants to die for his faith. He wraps dynamite around himself. Wherever his mullahs, ulemas tell him, he goes there and dies, blows himself up. He is ready to sacrifice himself! He is declared a terrorist! But that’s not why he does it, he wants to put fear into the world. …And why do these young men die? Because they don’t want to have a state ruled by pederasts”.
In fact, the term “Russian world” itself was introduced as a separate ideologeme along the lines of the “Islamic world.” The modern hybrid ideology of the “Russian world,” which is not original but contains many borrowings and plagiarism from similar ideologies and theories, has a number of features that are much closer to Islam than to Christianity. Among such borrowings is the idea of the “Russian world” as a special “megacivilization” with its own “traditional values,” “spiritual bonds,” and “sacred mission,” which distinguishes “the Russian God-bearing people” from all other peoples of the world and which opposes the “anti-civilization” of the West.
In essence, it is a borrowing of the Islamist fundamentalist idea of political unity of Muslims around the world regardless of national and racial differences to oppose the West. Proclaiming their mission to revive a single Islamic Caliphate and its global hegemony, return to the spiritual, moral and political ideals and traditional values of the Middle Ages, the Islamists extol the first Islamic state as a “sacred ideal country” and the ancestral home of the modern Islamic world.
Borrowing such individual notions and slogans from fundamentalist Islamist movements, modern ideologues of the “Russian world” have essentially attempted to transplant the ideas of the global Islamic Caliphate onto Orthodox soil. In the new Russian mythmaking, the ideal of the medieval holy Caliphate was replaced by the ideal of the so-called “Holy Russia.” As a result of this substitution of names and individual provisions and principles, a new hybrid ideology emerged, outwardly called “Orthodox,” but in practice bearing more resemblance to radical Islam than to Christianity.
A “hot mix” of neo-Nazi and neo-Fascist ideas
At the same time, it would be erroneous to perceive the teaching of Patriarch Kirill about a separate “Russian world” as a complete borrowing of fundamentalist ideas from the Islamic world. As already mentioned, this is not a purely original theory. It embodies borrowings from various quasi-religious ideologies and theories. His doctrine is a “rattling mixture,” a kind of “vinaigrette” in which doctrines and ideologemes that are sometimes opposed to one another are jumbled together. It thus often becomes blatantly un-Christian, and as a result, this mixture acquires the character of heresy.
In particular, elements of such disparate ideologies and platforms as neo-Nazism and neo-fascism, as well as old communist myths and ideas about the USSR as an “ideal country”, about a “united Soviet people”, about their opposition to “the world evil” in the person of a “collective West”, etc., were embodied in the ideology propagated by the patriarch of Moscow. Post-Soviet Russian society’s propensity for and demand for such artificial myths and ideologemes has created fertile ground for the spread and popularity of newly emergent pseudo-Orthodox fundamentalist ideas, which are nothing more than a modern transformed incarnation of neo-fascism, neo-Nazism, national communism and Islamist fundamentalism, recycled and adapted to the Russian post-Soviet mentality under Orthodox camouflage.
There is no place in this un-Christian ideology for Christ’s teaching that “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). It is these foundational words that Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev defiles, denies, and refutes with his actions. In contrast to these precepts of Christ, his new religious doctrine is based on the neo-pagan cult of worshipping the power and might of the earthly state and government, replacing the Gospel ideals of the “heavenly fatherland” (“the heavenly kingdom of God”) with the ideals of the “earthly kingdom” and secular power (“the prince of this world”), excessive idealization of the earthly state, endowing it with sacred qualities, popularizing the cult of war (“victory cult”) and the need to offer oneself as a voluntary sacrifice on the “altar of the Fatherland” in order to “restore its unified historical space”.
Instead of evangelical ideals, some special “spiritual essence”, “civilizational mission”, “traditional values” and “common space” of the peoples of the “Russian world” — regardless of nationality, language and culture — are confessed here, which, despite their existing differences, are interpreted as “spiritually united Russian people” (“God-bearing people”) and a separate “sacred megacivilization”, which must necessarily confront the West. In this case, no peoples of the former “single space” has the right to self-determination and separate existence. Where such a desire might appear, as in Ukraine, such a nation is declared corrupt and is subject to correction and annexation. A special heretical theory has been developed according to which the earthly entities Russia, Ukraine and Belarus are equated to the Holy Trinity, and therefore, “just as it is impossible to divide the Blessed Trinity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – it is One God – so it is impossible to divide Russia, Ukraine and Belorussia – it is together Holy Rus’”.
This spurious and heretical statement, falsely attributed to St. Lawrence of Chernigov (it was never expressed by the saint in reality), but which Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev likes to quote, is blasphemy and infringes upon the basic tenet of the Orthodox doctrine – the unity of the Divine Trinity. After all, if the three republics of the former Soviet Union were divided among themselves decades ago, it appears that the Holy Trinity can be divided in the same way…
Among other things, according to the patriarch of Moscow, the current “metaphysical struggle” is being waged by Russia in Ukraine, “so that by the power of God all these devilish thoughts may be eradicated from the minds of people who do not seek the spiritual unity of Holy Rus’, so that we all realise our responsibility to preserve the spiritual unity of the Russian world… I speak with courage within these walls the words “Russian world”, although I know that some forces in Ukraine demonise them… We use this word – with full responsibility, inner calmness and confidence in the rightness of our position… We are one people – the people of Holy Rus’… of one historical Fatherland, called Orthodox Rus’. For this we pray today, and to this we direct our labours today” (sermon of October 18, 2022).
Patriarch Kirill proclaimed one of the main missions of the ideology of the “Russian world” to be the “restoration of the unity of the historical space of the peoples of Holy Russia”, which is artificially endowed with some special sacred and eschatological meaning. In this case, the medieval myth-dream of an imaginary “heavenly Holy Russia”, which was personified by the hosts of saints, is now artificially transferred to a particular earthly state formation in the face of the Russian Empire/Soviet Union/Russian Federation, headed by strictly earthly rulers/leaders.
According to renowned Orthodox theologian Prof. Gallagher Brandon, “This ideology is a form of ethnoracial religious fundamentalism, with appeals to blood, land, faith, nation, people, language and tsar/leader. Like previous ethnocentrisms, it demonizes all who oppose it. And at the same time, in the logic of the ideology of the “Russian world” the West is a great adversary, a kind of “supreme demon. The ideology of the Russian world is the new Nazism, the Nazi ideology of the XXI century”.
According to Professor Brandon, in the ideology of the “Russian World” “there are many similarities with German Nazism and Italian Fascism in the call for a ‘Historical (= Great) Holy Russia'”, which likens it to neo-paganism.
This view of the “Russian World” doctrine is shared by more than 1,500 Christian theologians around the world, who have signed a joint Declaration of Doctrine on the “Russian World,” in which they condemn this new doctrine as unchristian. Thus, there is every reason to speak of the “Russian world,” as a new heresy, of the of which Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev is the heresearch.
The expansionist ideology of the “Russian world
After the collapse of the USSR and the dissolution of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the Moscow Patriarchate was the only structure whose leadership was closely linked to the KGB and also the only one that has not undergone significant transformation in the post-Soviet period, maintaining its influence over large parts of the former “united country”. Not surprisingly, the former leadership of the KGB assigned the ROC the role (instead of the former CPSU) of forming a new imperial ideology designed to preserve and strengthen the so-called “common civilizational space.”
Previous ideas of communist “messianism” were easily superimposed on Byzantine-imperialist soil. Instead of the old communist slogans, new ones are invented — about the “Russian world,” “Orthodox civilization” and the “unified space of Holy Russia,” based on the same mutilated dream-utopia of some “paradise on earth” and “ideal country,” which, just as in Soviet times, must confront the whole surrounding world of “hostile” countries.
A new ideological hybrid is being created, which should combine the ideas of old Byzantine, Tatar-Mongol Horde (“Eurasian”) and Russian imperialism with transformed Soviet-Communist ideologemes and even individual ideas borrowed from German Nazism and Italian fascism, as well as Islamic fundamentalism.
The reproduction of political-fundamentalist mythologies and their demand for them in certain strata of post-Soviet society was natural. For decades, the totalitarian consciousness of the Soviet people had been brought up on myths about “enemy images” and an “ideal majestic country”, different from the other — “bad” — world (the West). The Soviet myth of the “ideal country” was based on fear and hatred of Europe and America. This fear has not disappeared, finding a new realization in the militant ideology of the “Russian world.”
The laboratory for the development of the new fundamentalist doctrine of the “Russian world” was the so-called “World Russian People’s Council” (WRPC), established in 1993 at the initiative of Kirill Gundyaev, which under the auspices of the ROC brought together Russian religious and cultural figures, scholars and representatives of the diaspora, and most importantly, representatives of government, security and law enforcement agencies of the Russian Federation. Through this “laboratory,” the Russian Federation began to test and implement new ideas.
The Moscow Patriarch was proclaimed chairman of the WRPC by its statute. Until 2009, the chairman was Patriarch Alexey Ridiger, with Metropolitan Kirill Gundyaev as his deputy and the de facto head of the organization. When he became patriarch in 2009, Kirill Gundyaev also became chairman of the WRPC. For a long time, Kirill’s deputy in the WRPC was Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, known for his scandalous statements in support of nuclear war. Today, Kirill’s deputies are the odious Russian oligarch, owner of the Tsargrad TV channel and sponsor of terrorism in the Luhansk and Donetsk “People’s Republics,” Konstantin Malofeev, and one of the ideologues of the “Russian world,” Aleksandr Shchipkov, who is also first deputy chairman of the ROC Synod Department for Relations with Society and Media. These two figures are directly responsible for forming the ideology of the ROC.
The role of the ROC increased significantly in 2001 when its congress in the hall of church councils of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow was personally opened by Vladimir Putin. At the same time, in December 2001 the Russian Orthodox Church Synod declared “useful the development of the activities of WRPC as a permanent union of public organizations with the active participation and spiritual guidance of the Russian Orthodox Church.”
The Chairman of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, the First Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation, the leadership of the Federation Council, the Presidential Administration, the Federal Security Service and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, the leaders of major political parties, heads of federal subjects, public and religious associations of the Russian Federation take part in the work of the organization.
As an active participant in the political and ideological processes in the Russian Federation, Kirill Gundyaev tried to promote and disseminate the new ideology he was creating, in particular to Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin and his entourage, thus influencing the formation of the aggressive imperial ideology of Putin’s regime.
The Kremlin’s order to develop the ideology of the “Russian world” was a reaction to the Ukrainian Orange Revolution of 2004. For Putin, the events in Ukraine and the complete failure of his political plans came as a shock. Frightened by the transfer of the Ukrainian experience to Russian soil, he began to look for support in a new imperial ideology and its propaganda. Kirill Gundyaev was one of those who prompted him in this way. So, even before he became Patriarch of Moscow, he began to attract and support various marginalized supporters of Russian imperial “messianism,” including those with outright fascist, neo-Nazi and occult views (Aleksandr Dugin and others).
In 2005–2007 the experts of WRPC developed a program entitled “The Russian Doctrine”, which, besides producing ideological slogans, announced specific tasks. Among these is the expansion of the Russian Federation in the “near abroad”, the seizure of the Crimea, Donbass and all of Ukraine. So, the war between the Russian Federation and Ukraine has been ideologically substantiated and prepared since at least 2005.
In 2006, this doctrine was “assessed by reviewers of the Moscow Theological Academy of the Russian Orthodox Church as not contradicting the spirit and teachings of Orthodoxy.” In 2007, the “Russian Doctrine” was adopted as the basis of the ideology of WRPC under the auspices of the ROC, with direct lobbying support from Metropolitan Kirill, then also head of the UOC MP. He personally presented the final version of the doctrine at the All-Russian convention of the “Young Russia” movement.
In this doctrine, presented and promoted by Kirill Gundyaev, the terms “Russian world”, “spiritual crosses”, “common historical space” and the like were introduced and tested within Russian society as a whole for the first time.
A few quotes from this document:
“A SYMBOL OF FAITH IN RUSSIA. Russia is to its people a spiritual symbol of the same order as God, the Church, and faith. The symbol of faith in Russia is the creed of the patriot, for whom Russia is the supreme jewel of his life. Agreeing with the symbol of faith in Russia makes all people believers in a certain sense – BELIEVES IN RUSSIA.”
“The concept of the space of Historical Russia, that is, the natural area of the Russian world (the present RF plus Russian ethnic enclaves — Tavria, Novorossia, the Narva region, Latgalia, Southern Siberia, Ciscarpathian Rus’, as well as the territories of complementary ethnic groups — Belarusians, Eastern Ukrainians, Transcarpathian Rusyns, etc.)” is officially proclaimed.
“Russia is entering the path of the Russian irredenta: the ideology of return and reunification of those territories of historical Russia, to which it has a historical and moral right and which it makes practical sense to return. For Russia, this applies primarily to Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
“Russia must make a sharp reversal with regard to the states of the near abroad… It is necessary to recognize Russia’s rights to a number of territories. In the case of Ukraine, claims to Donbass and Tavria (Crimea) at a minimum.”
“The main principles of national security are the principles of… advance and expansion.”
All this paranoid nonsense occupies hundreds of pages and is freely available on the Internet.
Thus, as we can see, long before he became head of the Moscow Patriarchate, Kirill Gundyaev led the process of developing and promoting a special Russian militant-fundamentalist ideology, in which he tried to interest Putin and his entourage. This was probably the reason why, with Putin’s support, he was able to become head of the ROC in 2009.
At the same time, Kirill Gundyaev began regular propaganda raids in Ukraine to promote the idea of the unity of the “Russian world.” One of the first such attempts was made during the celebration of the 1020th anniversary of the Christianization of Kievan Rus’ in 2008. Then, during a rock concert on Kreshchatik in Kiev, Metropolitan Kyrill jumped out onto the rostrum and began hysterically chanting the slogan “Russia, Ukraine and Belarus are Holy Rus’!” Later, at a press conference in Moscow, he spoke about his first such experiment in Kiev: “It was like a meeting of liberators – there was such jubilation among Ukrainians”. He also noted at the time: “Recent days show that we Ukrainians, Russians, and Belarusians also understand the importance of preserving a single civilizational space called Holy Rus’”.
After becoming patriarch of Moscow in January 2009, Kirill Gundyaev made the ideology of the “Russian world” virtually the doctrine of the entire Russian Orthodox Church. According to him, “the core of the modern Russian world is Russia, Ukraine and Belarus,” but he also includes Moldova, Kazakhstan and some other former Soviet republics, which certainly need “the restoration of unity.” Only a united Russian world can become a strong subject of global international politics, stronger than any political alliances,” Patriarch Kirill of Moscow said at the opening of the 3rd “Assembly of the Russian World” in November 2009.
Since then, the manipulation of slogans about “united Holy Rus’”, a “united civilization space”, the “united Russian world”, “united spiritual crosses”, etc., has become systemic, being adopted not only in the ROC, but also in the power structures and special services of the Russian Federation.
In promoting the ideology of the “Russian world”, Moscow Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev often appeals to the terms “Holy Rus’” and “unified historical space of the peoples of Holy Rus’” as some kind of historical reality, although in fact it is only a folk metaphor, an imaginary myth-dream. Thus, it is not only illiterate from a scientific and historical point of view (in fact, there has never been a real country or state with the name “Holy Rus’”), but is a deliberate manipulation and substitution of concepts.
All of these ugly pearls still require careful study and analysis. But we can already say that the Patriarch of Moscow, according to his own convictions, is not Orthodox and is not a Christian. The big question is, is he a believer at all? And if so, what is he a believer in? By his own admission, he is attracted to the “strong world.” It is not surprising that in the mind of such a man the Christian sacrifice can be replaced by radical Islamist shahidism, the “sacred sacrifice” of his own people blasphemously compared with the atoning sacrifice of Christ, and in the mythology created by him under the name “Holy Rus’” we see the appearance of a pseudo-Orthodox “Caliphate” whose main mission is the voluntary or forceful union of countries and peoples forming the so-called “Russian world” in order to confront Western “anti-civilization”.
Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev was the one who formulated and presented Putin and his entourage with a new militant fundamentalist quasi-religious ideology, which was adopted by Putin’s regime in its aggression against Ukraine and which is now responsible for the genocide and deaths of tens of thousands of peaceful Ukrainian civilians, many of whom are Orthodox Christians.
In addition to private evaluations, heresy always requires condemnation by the Church at the council/synodal level. While such condemnation is not officially carried out, it means that a certain church community or the Church as a whole may share such views. So, World Orthodoxy must refute and condemn this heretical teaching of the Moscow patriarch. It is their moral and canonical duty. As Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev himself once stated, “if the Church stops telling people clearly and distinctly what is good and what is evil, it ceases to be necessary.”
Ph.D. (History), Doctor of Theology (Th.Dr,)
Director of the International Institute of the Athonite Legacy,
Research fellow of the Institute of History of Ukraine at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine