Patriarch Kirill Speaks Out Against Those Who Wish to “Weaken Holy Rus’”
During the consecration ceremony for the a new Church in Balashikha in the Moscow region on the 6th of November, the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Kirill gave a short sermon exhorting the people to not merely “mechanically” pray for the authorities and armed forces during the liturgy, since “the people face dangers - such dangers that challenge the very existence of our country," and a special responsibility falls on "those who are entrusted with the duty to protect the borders of our Motherland.”
His Holiness urged Russians to strengthen prayers "for the authorities and the army" against the background of attempts by external forces to destroy Russia and complained that "not all politicians have the sense to understand where the wind is blowing from and what is behind this desire of powerful forces outside Russia to excite people to internecine warfare." "There is only one thing behind this - the desire to weaken Holy Rus,” explaining that he meant Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.
The three countries share historical bonds and a shared baptism, as Prince Vladimir, who Christianized his kingdom in the 980s was Grand Prince of Kiev and Prince of Novgorod, and ruled a state that encompasses parts of the current political boundaries of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia. In spite of recent modern propaganda, the three countries share one cultural, ethnic, and religious history, being descended from the same polity and ethnicity. Thus the great grief the Patriarch feels at the need for the Special Military Operation, calling it “internecine strife.”
It is a common misunderstanding in the West, even among those who support Russia in the current military conflict, that Ukrainians, Belorussians, and Russians are separate ethnicities or nationalities. The historical facts demonstrate the opposite. During the approximately 400 years of Tsarist rule, the inhabitants of these territories all considered themselves ethnically Russian and one nation, and made no distinction between a Russian living in Kiev, Minsk, or Moscow. They had the same blood, the same language, the same faith, and had fought shoulder to shoulder in the same battles which forged the Russian empire. Elites traveled, intermarried, and settled freely between these regions. There was more regional uniformity in language, ethnicity, culture, and religion in these Russian lands than there was, and continues to be in the European national states of France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and England.
During the Soviet era, despite the artificial creation of regional Ukrainian and Belorussian administrative boundaries (similar to states in the US), the idea of them all being one people did not change, again with free movement and settlement between them. Only after the end of the USSR, over the last 30 years, was the artificial idea promoted in the Ukraine, that Ukrainians are somehow ethnically, linguistically, and culturally separate from Russians. This effort was heavily funded and promoted by the US with the goal of stoking geopolitical conflict between the countries of Russia and Ukraine and preventing a reunification.
The current strife has most of its roots and supporters outside the combat zone. Ecclesiastically, the root of the problem is found in the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople Bartholomew to unilaterally declare the Ukrainian Church autocephalous, or self-ruling, when it had been an ancient right of the Patriarchs of Russia in Moscow to consecrate Metropolitan Bishops of Kiev since 1686. The Russian Orthodox Church holds that Patriarch Bartholomew does not have the authority to unilaterally grant any church in the Orthosphere autocephaly, but Patriarch Bartholomew has aggressively pushed the idea during his reign that he is first without equal, a position that has drawn criticism from his critics that he has aspirations of being something like an Orthodox “pope,” which would be generally unthinkable for the classically conciliar Church. The forceful meddling of Bartholomew in the affairs of the Russian church has resulted in a breaking of communion and a state of schism that has lasted since 15 October, 2018.
But the reasons for the ecclesiastical strife lie in politics. Why, for example, should the people of Ukraine be so upset about being attached to the Moscow Patriarchate? After all, the status quo had existed since 1686, so why the sudden demand for autocephaly? And even today, many orthodox churches that operate in America are not autocephalous, among them the rich and powerful Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, which is ironically under the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Maybe in the wake of the Special Military Operation it could be more easily understood, but alas, this granting of so called autocephaly occurred in 2018, years before that event began. But shadowy hands were well in motion to divide and destroy the traditional brotherhood between Russians, Belarusians, and Ukranians. Petro Poroshenko, the first post-Maidan coup leader of Ukraine made breaking with Moscow ecclesiastically a major part of his political agenda, claiming, “Autocephaly is part of our pro-European and pro-Ukrainian state strategy.”
One wonders how or why an Orthodox Church, autocephalous or not, would be part of any strategy of European integration, considering the general hostility to the values Orthodox Christianity holds sacred across most of the EU, unless its witness was meant to be compromised or subverted in some way. A Ukrainian Church, apart from Moscow’s influence, would appear to the author to be more open to outside pressure and corruption and not less. But perhaps this is the idea? Support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s decree went mostly down ethnic lines, with the Greek and Cypriot churches, both EU countries with large NATO military bases, siding with Bartholomew as opposed to the Serbs, traditional allies of Russia and still the red-headed stepchild of Europe and general whipping boy since the deplorable NATO intervention in Serbia in 1999.
One can see plainly that the jurisdictions that most strongly supported the Ecumenical Patriarch were those where, politically speaking, the United States has an important say or even an outright veto in their national politics, whereas in jurisdictions located in less allied nations, there was more dissent with the Greek/American line. America and the European Union stand to benefit most from a spiritual rift between brother peoples in eastern Europe, as supplanting actual history with their sham one allows for the expansion of both NATO and the EU, which might otherwise not happen, especially if the majority of feeling within Ukraine was brotherhood with their Russian and Belarusian neighbors.
Thus His Holiness is rightly concerned with the spiritual unity of brother peoples who proceeded historically from a common baptism and historical inheritance. We too lament this baleful outside attempt to weaken Holy Rus’ that has resulted in the 8 years of attacks on civilians in eastern Ukraine and the Special Military Operation. May God grant Russia and all her people swift victory and an end to outside meddling in her affairs.
Video footage of the consecration and homily provided below.