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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Patriarch Kirill Talks Tough in Donetsk

As Patriarch Kirill went from Kyiv to Donetsk, his “tough love” sermons went from argumentative to aggressive. His 10-day pilgrimage of Ukraine turned into a political campaign event, not quite as advertised.

In Donetsk, his point man was the region’s pro-Russian presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych, who staged a royal reception for him. An orchestra hailed Patriarch Kirill with “God Save the Tsar” and “The Patriotic Song” (Russia’s anthem 1990-2000). (Not exactly a Ukrainian repertoire, isn’t it?)

A live-broadcast public church service gathered tens of thousands of people and saw Yanukovych — the ultimate heaven-sent candidate — ride Patriarch Kirill’s coattails.

Patriarch Kirill: It won’t enter anyone’s head to use political or national or cultural or other arguments to justify the breakup of a family, the divorce of a husband and wife, the orphanage of children under living parents. No human ideals can justify a schism. No human dream, no political idea, no national ideal during the two thousand years of Christianity has ever been achieved and realized through division of the body of Christ. Where there is division, there is blood flowing out, there is energy lost, there is unity separated, there app...appea...appears factionalism in place of unity, and lost is the ability, among other things, to achieve goals set for the people, for the nation, for the state.

“Where there is division, there is blood flowing out...” Wow! That’s a piece of powerful Christian imagery! In other words, you do this, we do that,” right?

Your Holiness, are you aware of the East-West Schism? Have you ever heard of Muscovy’s self-proclaimed “Third Rome” title? Before asserting itself over Kyiv, hadn’t the church in Muscovy split from Constantinople — and, for that matter, from the Kyiv Metropoly — in 1448?

Do you think it’s Christian of you to wear a €30K watch while keeping most of your congregation in the dark — and as poor as church mice? Who benefits?

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Joe said...

Dear Patriarch - Many families fight. Sometimes they move away from each other and don't talk anymore but send birthday cards. Some siblings argue...particularly if one of them gets a 30K Euro watch and the other doesn't! I know I would!

elmer said...

This is simply perversion of religions.

"God save the tsar"?

So now, this stooge, who stands there with his costume, all looking like an embroidered Ku Klux Klan, is the tsar????

What message is Kirill projecting? Is he spreading the message of Christ, the message of love?

"Bow down to me - I am important, I have an elaborate costume, I wave my arms, I make political pronouncemnts, Stalin was OK."

This is simply a hideous perversion of religion.

There is no freedom of religion in his message.

There is no message of humility before God.

There is no message of peace here.

There is a message of human blood if people don't listen to him.

And of pomp and circumstance - well, except that you should not be a "consumerist."

I wonder if Abramovich, the richest rooshan oligarch, got his message?

I wonder if Putvedev were given the same message, as Putler lights candles with this wizard?

This is distasteful as hell.

Ropi said...

It is so weird that we learnt about these stuff on History class. I have never thought I will meet with this again. Eastern history is not so "fashionable" here at the moment. We learnt about the Kievan Rus, and the Russian Empire. However next year we will learn a lot about the Soviet Union.

I think it is "cool" that he changed his plans. I don't watch a football game if the result is already discussed by the teams or do you? :)

ellen said...

Because the Russian Orthodox Church was promoted in the atheistic regime of the USSR, it cannot be an option for Ukrainians. Both the Ukrainian Catholic and Ukrainian Orthodox churches were brutally liquidated by that regime.

Lingüista said...

My first thoughts were exactly what you wrote, Taras -- how come Muskovy's independence from the Constantinople Patriarchate was not such a waste of energy, division, etc.?

Kirill might possibly answer: but that was long ago, and we can't revert it now; so how about not doing this again? There have been too many divisions in the history of the Orthodox Church, let's not make it worse, etc.

What do you think the schismatics would answer?

It is difficult not to see Kirill's visit as a political event, and Yanukovych is certainly using it that way. Of course, Kirill has all the deniability in the world: he can say he is just a religious man on a crusade to keep his great church undivided. But the support for the Donetsk Russians is quite obvious. Oh God, will they some day pull a Transnistria and declare independence?

Taras said...


I’d put it this way:

Dear Patriarch,

Many families fight, but you’re not my family. You’re not my sibling. You’re my neighbor. You’re my guest. If you want to be a good neighbor and a good guest, you should behave like one.

Your pilgrimage to Ukraine didn’t go as advertised: it was political, not pastoral. Your sermons on asceticism, coupled with your $34,600 watch, smack of hypocrisy.

If you want to do something good, sell your watch and donate the proceeds to an orphanage.


His attire — with the notable exception of the watch and any excess jewelry he wears —raises no moral objections from me.

After all, this is what Orthodox clergy wear. Catholic clergy wear their own clothing and so on.

What does raise moral objections is his political platform and peseudo-ascetic rhetoric:

>>It is very important to learn Christian asceticism. Asceticism is not about living in a cave. Asceticism is not about constant fasting. Asceticism is about the ability to regulate one’s consumption, including with ideas and with the state of one’s heart. It’s the victory of man over lust, passion and instinct. And it’s important that both the rich and the poor master this quality. This is the answer of the Church. We should learn to manage our instincts, we should learn to manage our passions. It is then that the civilization that we will build won’t be a civilization of consumption.

The process of consumption has no limits. You can buy one jet, a second one, a third one. But what does it mean in relation to society? Resources are lacking. Earth cannot sustain such a project. Which means that supporting it is a sin. And the crisis can teach us to be frugal. It’s very important to learn Christian asceticism: the victory over one’s passions, instincts.

Watches speak louder than words, don’t they?


Good luck in your history studies! Be sure to distinguish Kyivan Rus from the Grand Duchy of Moscow, the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union.

Long story short, Kyivan Rus differs from the Grand Duchy of Moscow more than the Russian Empire does from the Soviet Union.


Thank you for commenting! During Soviet times, the Russian Orthodox Church was penetrated and operated by the KGB. Until the late 80s, other churches were banned and suppressed.

In a free society, religion is a matter of choice. Still, I totally agree with you that a church run by the Kremlin cannot support Ukraine’s independence.


In many respects, the Russian Orthodox Church in modern Russia plays the same role as it did in tsarist and Soviet Russia: serving Caesar.

Patriarch Kirill’s visit showcases this service: dilution of responsibility for the Holodomor, portrayal of Stalin as the lesser of two evils, support for Russian irredentism, etc.

In summary, I’d say the likelihood of Donbas going separatist decreases with the likelihood of Yanukovych getting elected president.

Ropi said...

Yes, we distinguish them.

elmer said...

The Russian Orthodox Church is still a tool of the Kremlin.

This page, from the International Herald Tribune, has a series of articles about Putler's crackdowns:

This link has a video report of the crackdown against anyone other than the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia:

The Russian Orthodox Church is not a church - it is a political gathering.

What kind of church makes a murderous tsar into a saint?

What kind of church defends stalin and his evil?

As far as I'm concerned, Kirill is simply spreading evil.

He want the church to control government.

He has no concept of freedom of religion, or separation or church and state.

Europe went through separation of church and state, and people have freedom of religion.

Not so in Russia.

And he wants the same thing in Ukraine.

As far as I'm concerned - NO, THANKS.

Lingüista said...

The possibility of a Yanukovych presidence strikes me as somewhat depressing. What do you think he would do, if elected president? Would Russian become co-official? Would Yanukovych still use his hard-won knowledge of Ukrainian? Would there be "friendship with Russia"?...

I don't know if it's polite in Ukraine to ask who you'll vote for, so I won't. I'll rather ask who do you think has the best chances of winning. Yatsenyuk? Tymoshenko? Yanukovych?

Taras said...


Good for you! Some history text books fail to distinguish them properly.


While in Ternopil oblast, Patriarch Kirill welcomed the idea of embracing Ukrainian citizenship, provided he would be able to retain his Russian citizenship. (Note: Unlike Russia, Ukraine does not recognize dual citizenship.)


The prospect of a Yanukovych presidency doesn't inspire me either.

There would be no reform except for pleasing the Kremlin and solidifying the legacy of Russification. Meanwhile, corruption would flourish. People would keep dying in coal mines by the dozen. The economy would remain obsolete, commodity-cursed and oligarch-oriented. Ukraine’s population would continue trickling down into the graveyard.

As of today, I haven’t decided who to vote for. Frankly, I feel like voting against all. I see little difference between Yanukovych and Tymoshenko. Yatsenyuk is a bit younger and more sophisticated, but his oligarch connections hardly make him a better alternative.