In recent weeks the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) has had numerous opportunities to urge Vlad the Invader not to attack and after the invasion call for peaceful resolution to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. If this was a test for the ROC, the ROC failed miserably and showed their complicity in the invasion.
ROC leaders like Patriarch Kirill have done nothing of the sort, largely giving support to Vlad and his attack on Ukraine, even as other Eastern Orthodox church leaders such as Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and Metropolitan Onufry of the ROC aligned Ukrainian Orthodox Church have spoken out against Vlad’s actions.
Then on Forgiveness Sunday (March 6) Kirill doubled down on his support of the invasion of the Ukraine. As post-doctoral fellow Sarah Riccardi-Swartz wrote, Forgiveness Sunday is about humans asking for forgiveness for the harms they caused and standing in solidarity with each other. Kirill showed he’d rather use that day to attack people who do not toe his religious line on LGBTQ people, reproductive freedom, and human rights. He showed he’d rather use that day to drum up support for Vlad’s attacks on Russia’s neighbors.
Vlad is not the only bad actor in this whole mess. There are others hard at work in and outside Russia using trying to use Jesus Christ and the movement He inspired to commit acts of naked aggression against peaceful peoples. You can count Patriarch Kirill as one of those individuals. It would be sad to see a man who has dedicated his life to his faith weaponize it to use against others if not for the real human costs of such weaponization – such as the women and children killed when Vlad’s forces bomb maternity wards.