By Efi Efthimiou
With an absurd statement, which clearly indicates his “entrapment” in the cogs of Russian government propaganda, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow tried in his sermon yesterday to “wash away” the Russian invasion of Ukraine, talking about forces of the evil who “fight against the unity of the land of the Russians and the Russian Church.”
He described the invasion as “the present political situation in fraternal Ukraine” and expressed the hope that peace will be restored.
It is important to notice that he did not speak about the Orthodox Church in Ukraine as a whole, but addressed the “Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is headed by Metropolitan Onuphry”.
In fact, he wished God to give the Church of Metropolitan Onuphry, strength and wisdom to “repulse the diabolical attacks”.
It is worth noting, however, that Metropolitan Onuphry in a similar statement spoke about the war that Russia started against Ukraine, and addressed all Ukrainian citizens urging them not to panic, to show courage and love for their homeland, and for their soldiers that protect the country and its people.
On the contrary, the Patriarch of Moscow insisted on not referring to Russia’s attack on a sovereign country, Ukraine, and prayed to God “to protect from the fratricidal battle the peoples comprising the one space of the Russian Orthodox Church”.
The line of the Kremlin, which has been cultivated for years, refers to “dark and hostile external forces”, from which they must guard “our historically common homeland”, to “external enemies”, provocations, “intrigues” and “temptations”.
He ended his sermon with the wish “May God protects the Russian land”. He explained that the term “Russian land” means “the land which now includes Russia and Ukraine and Belarus and other tribes and peoples” as if these countries are threatened today by some power, not Ukraine by Russian aggression.
Read below the speech of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow
On February 27, 2022, in his Primatial homily after the Liturgy at the Cathedral Church of Christ the Saviour, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia spoke about the events going on in Ukraine. In particular, His Holiness said:
Today we also need unity – the unity with our brothers and sisters in Ukraine. We are aware of the difficult circumstances encountered today by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. I especially prayed today for His Beatitude the Primate and certainly for the whole episcopate and all the faithful people of Ukraine, and I call you to lift up these prayers too. God forbid that the present political situation in fraternal Ukraine so close to us should be aimed at making the evil forces that have always strived against the unity of Rus’ and the Russian Church, gain the upper hand. God forbid that a terrible line stained with the blood of our brothers should be drawn between Russia and Ukraine. We should pray for the restoration of peace, for the restoration of good fraternal relations between our peoples. A guarantee of this fellowship is our united Orthodox Church represented in Ukraine by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church headed by His Beatitude Onuphry. We prayed for them today as well. We prayed that the Lord may give them strength and wisdom to repulse the attacks of the evil one while serving their people in faith and truth promoting peace by all possible ways.
May the Lord preserve our Church in unity. May the Lord protect from fratricidal battle the peoples comprising the one space of the Russian Orthodox Church. It must not be allowed to give the dark and hostile external forces an occasion to laugh at us; we should do everything to preserve peace between our peoples while protecting our common historical Motherland against every outside action that can destroy this unity.
Today we lift up a special prayer for His Beatitude Onuphry, for our Church, and for our devout faithful. May the Lord preserve the Russian land. When I say “Russian”, I use the ancient expression from “A Tale of Bygone Years” – “Wherefrom has the Russian land come”, the land which now includes Russia and Ukraine and Belarus and other tribes and peoples. That the Lord may protect the Russian land against external enemies, against internal disorders, that the unity of our Church may strengthen and that by God’s mercy all the temptations, diabolical attacks, provocations may retreat and that our devout people in Ukraine may enjoy peace and tranquillity – these are our prayers today. And I ask you all to mention His Beatitude Onuphry in year prayers in church and at home, to mention our brothers and sisters in Ukraine, and to pray for peace.