Kirill wants a ‘guarantee’ from Pope in his war against Church in Ukraine, Kholmogorov says


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The upcoming meeting of Moscow Patriarch Kirill with Pope Francis in Cuba is not only a major boost for the status of the Russian Orthodox Church, suggesting as it does that Moscow somehow represents all Orthodox as Rome represents all Roman Catholics.

Yegor Kholmogorov (Image:

Yegor Kholmogorov (Image:

It is also another distraction from the horrific behavior of the Russian state in Ukraine and Syria, behavior aided and abetted by the Moscow Patriarchate; and for these reasons alone, it represents a major breakthrough for Moscow even if it doesn’t lead to any broader contacts, something many in the Russian church itself oppose.

But as Russian nationalist commentator Yegor Kholmogorov points out, the most immediately important goal of this meeting of the Third Rome as Moscow styles itself with the leader of the First Rome is to oppose two policies of the Second Rome, Constantinople or more broadly Turkey:

  • On the one hand, Kirill wants to secure the support of Francis for doing more to protect Christians in the Middle East, a means of checkmating Turkey’s role in Syria and elsewhere.
  • And on the other, Kirill wants Francis to refrain from any support of an independent Orthodox church in Ukraine, something the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople has been considering.

Moscow’s efforts to develop and exploit relations with the Vatican have faced numerous obstacles in the past: Catholic hostility to communism, Polish Pope John Paul II’s opposition to Moscow’s hegemony in Eastern Europe, and problems within Catholicism which blocked Benedict XVI from engaging in active diplomacy.

Kirill Putin Church Orthodox Russia

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow with Russian president Vladimir Putin

According to Kholmogorov, “the new pope represents a paradoxical mixture of traditionalism and renewal, is an energetic diplomat and what is especially important is a representative of the new main region of Catholicism, Latin America.” Because he is a traditionalist, he is not as distant from Orthodoxy on many issues; and because he is a modernist, he is not as obsessed with doctrinal distinctions as his predecessors.

That means that “the way for diplomatic dialogue, not of uniatism or concessions on matters of faith but cooperation on questions which trouble Christians of the entire world,” Kholmogorov continues. The main one of these today is the war against Christians in the Middle East, a war that he says continues where they are not protected by the Russian air force.

Patriarch Kirill clearly hopes to get Pope Francis’ support on this, something that would undercut not only Turkey but the West more generally. At the same time, he seeks to “obtain from the Vatican a guarantee at a minimum of neutrality in the war against the canonical Church in Ukraine” by pro-Kyiv “splitters.”

Russia Church Kirill yacht

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow travels on a $ 4 mn luxury yacht previously owned by Vladimir Putin

If the pope agrees to that, then the Uniates in Ukraine will remain neutral, and protecting “the status of canonical parishes in Ukraine will be made significantly easier.” More broadly, Kholmogorov says, Kirill hopes to use this meeting to boost his status as “the undoubted leader of the Orthodox world” and thus eclipse the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, who is “absolutely Western-oriented, pro-American and at the same time pro-Turkish.”

“The tragedy in the sky over Syria, where [a Russian] bomber whose mission included the defense of Syrian Christians was shot down has had providential significance,” he says, forcing the upcoming All-Orthodox assembly to be shifted from Istanbul where the Ecumenical Patriarch is strong to Crete where he has less influence.

At the Cuba meeting, Kholmogorov says, Kirill will certainly suggest to Francis that the Vatican “deal with the Orthodox world not through the insignificant although aggression” Ecumenical Patriarch but rather by means of “immediate conversation with Moscow, the largest of the Orthodox churches of the world which operates on the unqualified authority and sincere symphony with Great Russia.”

“Now,” the Russian nationalist commentator says, “the Vatican represents a lesser threat” than does Istanbul because were the All-Orthodox assembly to take decisions “against the Russian church, that would inflict “much greater harm on Orthodoxy than any diplomacy with Rome.”


  1. Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kyiv Patriarchate in Crimea evicted from Cathedral
  2. Moscow Patriarchate losing parishes to Kyiv church and its dominance of Ukraine’s religious life
  3. The Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate resembles the CPSU of Soviet times
  4. Moscow Patriarchate beefs up its staff for hybrid operations against Ukraine
  5. All confessions gather to pray for peace in Ukraine… except Moscow Patriarchate
  6. Is the Moscow Patriarchate Russia’s agent in Ukraine?
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  1. Avatar catholicchristian says:

    I’d love to know where Kiril gets the idea that the parishes of his foreign church in Ukraine are somehow “canonical,” or that the Church he heads, acting as it does as an organ of the Russian State, can have any agenda whatsoever that would be perceived as friendly to the people of Ukraine.

  2. Avatar Vlad Pufagtinenko says:

    Moscow is the third Rome????? The first church of Satan maybe.

  3. Avatar RonaldN222466 says:

    I don’t think that Pope is that stupid.

    1. Avatar Being says:

      I think he is.

    2. Avatar Quartermaster says:

      If Bergoglio is of the opinion that he can get more influence dealing solely with the Russian Orthodox, then he will do so. The papacy has been all about influence and power, not truth.

  4. Avatar Being says:

    Oh, yes now will Kirill succeed.
    Has not got Putin cross of peacekeeper from Pope pre last year?
    When Pope welcomes in EU millions of muslim “refugees” 85% young strong men, why not agree with Kirill?

  5. Avatar Lev Havryliv says:

    The Russian Orthodox Church has long been in the service of Russian imperialism and autocracy.

    I can’t see any reason why any Ukrainian would want to have anything to do with this malevolent institution.

  6. Avatar treepot says:

    The Pope has no influence on any of the Orthodox churches and promises that Kirill wants to make to Rome, for whatever favors, are just promises.