Monday, September 14, 2009

Putin and the Orthodox Church

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin with His Holiness Kirill Gundyaev at his formal installation at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow on 1 February 2009.

Left to right: Lyubov Sliska, the First Deputy Speaker of the RF Gosduma, President Dmitri Medvedev, Svetlana Medvedeva, his wife, and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin

Here is an excerpt from His Holiness Kirill's speech:

"Through the Will of the Holy Spirit and the delegates of Local Council, today, I, who am unworthy, was elevated by my fellows to the throne of the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, and received the symbols of the patriarchal office from their hands. Today, your prayers and good wishes admonish me before I assume the patriarchal duties, which are neither easy nor smooth. The Lord and the Church imposes a heavy cross on the patriarch, so, he must bear it selflessly with complete dedication to his duties, to which I was called today at the moment of my elevation to the patriarchal throne. It is no accident that the greater paraman rests on the shoulders of the Patriarch, it is the symbol of renunciation of all that is not concerned with the patriarchal ministry, a symbol of willingness to be faithful to God until the end, in obedience to His will, in the image of Him who humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2: 8).

No, the Patriarch cannot have a private life. His life entirely belongs to God and church. His heart aches for the people of God, especially those who are no longer in the unity of the Church and those who have not yet found faith. Patriarchal ministry is a special spiritual podvig (endeavor), which cannot be borne alone or only with the support of a limited circle of associates. This podvig involves the entire hierarchy and the fullness of the Church in all her diversity, manifested by the talents inherent in its members, through prayer, fellowship, and sobornost (collegiality in the Spirit).

Therefore, conscious of my unworthiness, with great inner turmoil, I now ascend to the high place of the patriarchate, humbly bowing in prayer before my holy predecessors who ruled in Moscow and Kiev, who now stand before the Throne of God."

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