Kirill’s Drive To Make Moscow Patriarchate A Global Church Behind New Rules On Baptismal Names – OpEd


Many are treating the Moscow Patriarchate’s decision to allow parents to have their children baptized by what the church had hitherto objected to as “foreign” names as an act of liberalization, Archdeacon Andrey Kurayev says. But they are wrong: it is part of Patriarch Kirill’s drive to elevate Moscow to the head of the Orthodox world.

He tells Konstantin Mityagin of the URA news agency that “this is a natural decision on the path of Patriarch Kirill to build a global Orthodox church. In correspondence with this, it is necessary to be softer on the territories of other countries and not force all Jeans to be Vanyas” (

Meanwhile, another close observer of Kirill and the Moscow Patriarchate says that Kirill’s “pragmatism” in the pursuit of all things has led him to within a single step of “public recognition of gratitude for the restoration of the Moscow Patriarchate” and of asking for God’s blessing on the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (

Aleksander Morozov who long covered Orthodox affairs for Nezavisimaya gazeta says that until Putin’s time, hierarchs of the ROC MP combined “canonical loyalty with consistent anti-Bolshevism.” Now, however, the state is demanding more; and to achieve his goals, Kirill is prepared as always to meet in more than half way.

Twenty years ago, maintaining that balance was important even for those closer to the state. Sergey Pugachev, who was a bridge between the Kremlin and the Patriarchate before emigrating to France, told Zhanna Nemirova in an interview for Deutsche Welle that “of course Putin doesn’t believe in God as people generally believe in God.”

Now, such statements would not be uttered, and Morozov says that he has no doubt that Kirill, “being a complete opportunist will at some point thank God for the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact” thus ensuring that his position and that of the Church will perfectly correspond to Putin’s own.

After all, that is a small price to pay if one’s goal is to become the first Orthodox pope.

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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