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. Last Updated: 08/22/2014

Patriarch Kirill

Civil Society

Patriarch Kirill

Patriarch Kirill (Кирилл) was born Vladimir Mikhailovich Gundyayev (Владимир Михайлович Гундяев) on Nov. 20, 1946, in Leningrad. His father was a priest.

Education: Theology, Leningrad Theological Seminary and Academy, 1970. Dissertation: "The Formation and Development of the Church Hierarchy and the Teaching of the Orthodox Church on Its Gracious Nature."

April 1969: Tonsured by Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad and Novgorod. He was ordained hierodeacon on April 7, and hieromonk on June 1 of the same year.

1970: Appointed personal secretary to Metropolitan Nikodim

1971: Represented the theological schools of the Russian Orthodox Church at the SYNDESMOS General Assembly and was elected by the assembly to the SYNDESMOS executive committee. Elevated to the rank of archimandrite in September 1971 and appointed representative of the Moscow Patriarchate at the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva.

1972: Elected to the board of the WCC Fund for Reconciliation and Reconstruction in Indochina

1974: Appointed rector of the Leningrad Theological Schools

1975: Became chairman of the Leningrad Diocesan Council. By the resolution of Patriarch Pimen and the Holy Synod in March 1976 Archimandrite Kirill was made bishop of Vyborg, assistant bishop of the Leningrad Diocese.

1975: Elected to the central and executive committees of the WCC at its Fifth Assembly in Nairobi. In September 1976, he was appointed representative of the Russian Orthodox Church at the WCC Plenary Commission "Faith and Order."

1976: Participated in the First Pre-Council Pan-Orthodox Conference in Geneva, as well as Orthodox-Catholic dialogues in 1978, 1980 and 1984.

1976-1978: Deputy Patriarchal Exarch for Western Europe and later took pastoral care of the Patriarchal parishes in Finland.

September 1977: Elevated to the rank of archbishop

1979-present: Member of the Holy Synod Commission for Christian Unity, now the Synodal Theological Commission

December 1984: Transferred to the See of Smolensk

1989-2009: Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations. Alexy II, Kirill's predecessor, also filled this role before he became patriarch. An articulate public speaker, Kirill was often perceived as the public face of the church to many Russians, with frequent public appearances on television programs.

1991-2009: Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad

1994-present: Hosts a weekly show called "The Pastor's Word" on Channel One.

December 2007: In his capacity as the church's point man in negotiations with other churches, Kirill held a rare meeting with Pope Benedict in the Vatican. Kirill said he was increasingly optimistic about better relations with Rome (relations have been strained since a schism in 1054 split Christianity into eastern and western branches).

Jan. 27, 2009: Elected as the 16th Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia by the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, becoming the first patriarch to be elected in post-Soviet Russia. Kirill, who had been interim leader since Patriarch Alexy II's death on Dec. 5, won 508 votes cast by the 702-member Local Council in a secret ballot. He was crowned on Feb. 1 at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow (story).

June 2010: President Dmitry Medvedev signed a law making July 28 a state holiday marking the country's conversion to Christianity in 988 (story)

October 2010: The Russian Orthodox Church opened its own channel on the popular video hosting site YouTube to “bring God's word closer to lives of modern youth," Patriarch Kirill said in a video recorded for the channel (story)

February 2011: Rumors of a posh mansion allegedly constructed for Kirill emerge (story)

According to media reports, Patriarch Kirill enjoys alpine skiing, water skiing and car racing.

Medvedev Hopes for Peace From New Ukraine Metropolitan

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Sunday he was sure the new head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Onuphrius, would help bring peace to Ukraine.


Ukraine's Rebels Worship the Past, Not God

If the rebels have any higher allegiance, it is to the Soviet past, not God.

Homophobia, Vote Rigging and Posturing - 20 years of Lukashenko

When a young and relatively unknown member of the Belarussian parliament won the country's first presidential election in 1994, few political actors in the small former Soviet republic expected him to last for long.


Church Cynically Sidesteps Soviet's Brutal Past

Not much in modern Russia surprises me anymore, but last week I got a real shock: Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill warmly congratulated Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov on the occasion of his 70th birthday and presented him with the church's highest order.


Putin Expresses Condolences Over Death of Ukraine Orthodox Church Leader

The head of Ukraine's Orthodox Church has died at 78 after leading it for more than two decades during the tumultuous post-Soviet period.

What the Papers Say, April 16, 2014

The only English roundup of today's Russian-language newspapers.


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