The call for a truce was another manifestation of the close alliance between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Kremlin and evidence of the patriarch’s complete misunderstanding of his place in the modern world.
The text of the call should be given in full. It’s simple and concise:
“I, Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus’, appeal to all parties involved in the internecine conflict with an appeal to cease fire and establish a Christmas truce from 12.00 on January 6 to 24.00 on January 7, so that Orthodox people can attend services on Christmas Eve and on the day Christmas.”
The call for a truce in itself is a good thing, especially if the truce becomes a prologue to peace and is based on the Christian understanding of peacemaking. However, the call for a truce can also be part of a political game, and church holidays can be an element instrumentalization of religiona form of manipulation of religious feelings.
Which answer to choose in this case?
Unfortunately, there are no big doubts. The Patriarch “forgot” to call for a truce on Easter 2022, throughout the ten months of the war he “forgets” to express any sympathy for the families and friends of the dead Ukrainians, he “forgot” that the Holy Scripture clearly calls for witness to the truth. The patriarch actively uses propaganda clichés, and here he could not resist, calling the war an internecine conflict.
Kirill “forgot” that dozens of Orthodox churches were destroyed and desecrated by “pious” Russian troops, that not all churches in the occupied territories of Ukraine would be happy to see Russian military men for Christmas. The patriarch also forgot that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was in a difficult situation, almost on the verge of liquidation as a result of his extremely unsuccessful policy in Ukraine over the past thirty years.
What a hopelessly false note sounds the first word in the patriarchal appeal – the pronoun “I”. Starting political treatment with “I” is a sign of painful, hypertrophied narcissism, and the semantic construction “I am a patriarch and therefore …” remains within the framework of a hopelessly compromised imperial paradigm. It’s impossible to take her seriously.
And the motivation that the patriarch uses is in no way connected with the gospel sermon, with the commandments, with the joy of the birth of the Divine Infant Christ into the world. The motivation used by the patriarch sounds extremely mundane: “so that Orthodox people can attend services,” that is, go to church and, as cynics add, leave money there. War is war, but people must regularly bring money to the temple, and the task of the patriarch is to provide such an opportunity. So he tries, even turns to the president.
Alas, this version of financial and commercial motivation has the right to exist.
From a political point of view, the appeal also looks inappropriate, even ridiculous: the patriarch has lost all authority, both spiritual and political, not only in Ukrainian, but also in Russian society. He is just a “weak shadow” of Putin. In preaching and developing the “theology of war”, the patriarch uses arguments that are extremely dubious from the theological point of view. Their preliminary analysis allows us to put a rather unexpected for XXI the question of the century: is not the Moscow Patriarch preaching heresy?
In any case, Patriarch Kirill put a lot of effort into depriving himself personally and his entire “official church” of any future.
Nevertheless, further developments showed that there is one “but”.
The appeal of the patriarch was published on the website of the patriarchate on January 5 at 11.18. Seven hours later, Vladimir Putin’s order to the Armed Forces to introduce a ceasefire along the entire front line is published on the presidential website, in accordance with the dates that Patriarch Kirill named.
I am far from thinking that Vladimir Putin regularly reads the official website of the Russian Orthodox Church and treats the patriarch’s appeals with attention. These are fantasies.
Moreover, since the patriarch is both politically and economically dependent on the Kremlin, he would not have dared to speak on his own without first coordinating the statement with the Kremlin authorities.
But another option is even more likely. Patriarch Kirill simply followed the instructions of the Kremlin. He received a call and was “strongly advised” to take the initiative. The patriarch obediently fulfilled it.
And that is why in the appeal there is not a word about Christ (His name is mentioned only in the name of the holiday), not a word about the world, not a word about mercy, not a word about sin.
I suspect that it is extremely unpleasant for the president to hear all this now, and the patriarch understands very well that it is better not to annoy Putin today.
It is better to remain silent. And then the “Prospector’s Waltz” by Alexander Galich, written exactly 60 years ago, when Patriarch Kirill was 17 years old, will sound like a church troparion:
And now that we are the first
We were seized by speeches of the beacon,
And under all verbal pearls
Silence comes through.
Let others scream in despair
From resentment, from pain, from hunger!
We know that silence is more profitable,
Because silence is golden!