Aleteia logoAleteia logoAleteia
Tuesday 05 July |
Saint of the Day: St. Elizabeth of Portugal
Aleteia logo
Voices & Views
separateurCreated with Sketch.

Kirill will follow Putin in his fall

This article is reserved for Aleteia Premium members


Jean-Francois Colosimo - published on 03/29/22

The theologian Jean-François Colosimo analyzes the consequences of the ambiguous relationship between Patriarch Kirill and Vladimir Putin. For him, the two men are doomed to fall together.

Aleteia: You point out that Putin and Kirill are of the same generation. Apart from their age, what do these two men have in common?

Jean-François Colosimo: In Russia, after 1989, only two institutions emerged from the rubble of communism: the KGB and the Church, which have old ties. Kirill immediately entered the race to become patriarch, a goal he achieved in 2009. While he had an initial reputation as a progressive and ecumenist, he took on the anti-Western bias typical of the new authoritarian regime and endorsed Putin’s foreign policy. He becomes in a way his minister of religious affairs. In the same way that Putin leads a multi-ethnic, multi-faith and multilingual federation, Kirill, in the name of Orthodoxy, presides over the Religious Council of Russia, which brings together the Chief Rabbi for Judaism, the Grand Mufti for Islam and the Grand Lama for Buddhism. On the outside, the pontiff and the despot profess the same ideology of the unity of the “Russian world,” in other words, of a Russia that includes all Russian-speaking populations. This pan-Russian imperialism was made possible by the fact that there was no Nuremberg of communism. Putin and Kirill are two survivors of homo sovietus. They agree on the oblivion of the Gulag, the refusal of the international order and the denial of human rights.

The patriarch seeks to affirm the greatness of the Russian Church, just as the president intends to reaffirm the greatness of the Russian state.

What do they bring to each other?

Kirill and Putin are driven by the same restoration project. The patriarch seeks to affirm the greatness of the Russian Church, just as the president intends to reaffirm the greatness of the Russian state. Internally, the Church is taking over the role once played by the Communist Party. It is now in charge of patriotism, morality, social norms and the recruitment of elites. In this context, Kirill intends to imitate the interpretation he has of a 19th-century Catholicism that never existed, a fortress Church which governed society. He wants to make this Church play, against the clock, the great battles against Modernity with an inquisitorial dimension that is not traditionally Orthodox. Outside, Kirill brings his diplomatic support to Putin. The Moscow Patriarchate is the only Russian institution that still covers the whole of the former USSR. It supports the geopolitical maneuvers of the current regime. The representations of the Moscow Patriarchate in Belarus, in Ukraine, but also in the Baltic States, in Kazakhstan and in the Central Asian Republics are in fact second embassies. With its extensions in the former satellite countries and the former sister republics, but also in Europe and in the Americas, the Moscow patriarchate makes up about 50% of the Orthodox world and benefits from the important diplomatic and financial resources reserved for it by the Russian state. The two men walk hand in hand in domestic and foreign policy. The aspergillum blesses the saber and, from now on, the incense burner legitimizes the missile.

The following is reserved for Aleteia Premium members

Already a member?

Free! - Without any commitment
You can cancel anytime

Discover all of these benefits:

Aucun engagement : vous pouvez résilier à tout moment


Unlimited access to all new Premium content from Aleteia


Unlimited access to new Premium content from our partners: Our Sunday Visitor and the Dominican friars.


Exclusive access to our prestigious international press review


Limited advertising


Exclusive access to publish comments


Access to our network of hundreds of monasteries that will pray for your intentions

Support media that promotes Christian values
Support media that promotes Christian values
Support Aleteia!

Enjoying your time on Aleteia?

Articles like these are sponsored free for every Catholic through the support of generous readers just like you.

Thanks to their partnership in our mission, we reach more than 20 million unique users per month!

Help us continue to bring the Gospel to people everywhere through uplifting and transformative Catholic news, stories, spirituality, and more.

Support Aleteia with a gift today!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Entrust your prayer intentions to our network of monasteries

Top 10
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.