ROME — Russian President Vladimir Putin praised Moscow Patriarch Kirill on Sunday for his wise leadership and careful oversight of church-state relations.
On the occasion of Kirill’s November 20 birthday, Putin offered “heartfelt greetings”To the Russian Orthodox Church head thanking him very much for his loyalty.
“Accept my heartfelt congratulations on your birthday,”Putin wrote. “As pastor of the Russian Orthodox Church, you direct your efforts towards preserving traditional spiritual and moral values in society, coordinating interreligious and interethnic relations, and improving cooperation between church and state.”
“Your wise pastoral word works to unite the people and support people in difficult times of adversity,”Russian President stated.
Kirill’s critics have censured the prelate for playing lapdog to the Russian president, with one observer likening him to “Cardinal Wolsey to Putin’s Henry VIII.”
Pope Francis condemned Kirill’s gung-ho support for Russian aggression in May last year, insisting that the patriarch was causing more harm than helping Ukraine.
“I spoke to Kirill for 40 minutes via zoom,”Francis spoke to the Italian daily Corriere della Sera. “He spent the first twenty reading me all the justifications for the war from a notecard in his hand.”
“I listened and told him: I don’t understand anything about this. Brother, we are not state clerics, we cannot use the language of politics, but that of Jesus,””The pontiff spoke. “We are shepherds of the same holy people of God. For this we must seek ways of peace, to put an end to the firing of weapons.”
“The Patriarch cannot transform himself into Putin’s altar boy,” Francis declared.
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