His Holiness Kirill Gundyaev (1946- ), Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias, at his formal installation at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow on 1 February 2009
Your Beatitudes, heads, and representatives of the Holy Churches of God! Dear Dmitri Antatolevich Medvedev, President of the Russian Federation! Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Russian Federation! Dear Heads and representatives of the states whose Orthodox peoples reside in the bosom of the Moscow Patriarchate and the representatives of other countries! My Right Reverend archpastoral brothers! All-honourable Fathers, Mother Superiors, and my dear brothers and sisters in Christ!
Through the Will of the Holy Spirit and the delegates of Local Council, today, I, who am unworthy, was elevated by my fellows to the throne of the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, and received the symbols of the patriarchal office from their hands. Today, your prayers and good wishes admonish me before I assume the patriarchal duties, which are neither easy nor smooth. The Lord and the Church imposes a heavy cross on the patriarch, so, he must bear it selflessly with complete dedication to his duties, to which I was called today at the moment of my elevation to the patriarchal throne. It is no accident that the greater paraman rests on the shoulders of the Patriarch, it is the symbol of renunciation of all that is not concerned with the patriarchal ministry, a symbol of willingness to be faithful to God until the end, in obedience to His will, in the image of Him who humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2: 8).
No, the Patriarch cannot have a private life. His life entirely belongs to God and church. His heart aches for the people of God, especially those who are no longer in the unity of the Church and those who have not yet found faith. Patriarchal ministry is a special spiritual podvig (exploit or effort is a VERY weak translation of this powerful Russian word: editor’s note), which cannot be borne alone or only with the support of a limited circle of associates. This podvig involves the entire hierarchy and the fullness of the Church in all her diversity, manifested by the talents inherent in its members, through prayer, fellowship, and sobornost (collegiality is a WEAK translation: editor’s note).
Therefore, conscious of my unworthiness, with great inner turmoil, I now ascend to the high place of the patriarchate, humbly bowing in prayer before my holy predecessors who ruled in Moscow and Kiev, who now stand before the Throne of God.
My inner focus is drawn to the Holy First Hierarchs of our Church, especially those who are served in recent times, beginning with St Tikhon the Confessor, and ending with the ever-memorable His Holiness Patriarch Aleksei.
The patriarch is the custodian of internal unity in the Church, and, together with his brethren in the hierarchy, the guardian of the purity of the faith. I perceive as a special sign from God that the patriarchal installation occurred today, the feastday of St Mark of Ephesus, a bold defender and champion of the Orthodox faith. The task of the patriarch is to prevent the escalation of disputes, for these, although they must be (1 Corinthians 11:19), according to the apostle, can swell into schism, disorganisation, and false doctrine. So, the patriarch must ensure that every person, in all of their uniqueness, finds their place in the church body and, at the same time, ensure that disputes do not interfere with love and do not weaken the overall effort to build the House of God. We must have “unity in all things needful, freedom in all things secondary, and in everything, love”; these words of St Vincent of Lerins should remain the guiding principle of church life.
Patriarch Kirill with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (1952- )
The patriarch is the defender of the external canonical borders of the Church. This ministry is of particular importance because of the fact that several independent states now exist on the Russian historical space. Respecting their sovereignty and wishing nothing but good to each of these states, the patriarch, at the same time is called upon to care for the preservation and strengthening of the spiritual ties between their peoples for the sake of preserving a value system that appears to the world as a unified Orthodox civilisation… Holy Russia.
A particular concern of the patriarch of the church will be preaching spiritual and moral values in relation to the realities of contemporary life. The evidence of the truth and beauty of Orthodoxy can be accepted and understood only when people clearly understand the value of this certification for their personal, family, and social lives, and they learn to correlate the eternal divine Word with the realities of everyday life, with its concerns, joys, and sorrows.
We must connect the Orthodox faith and Evangelical morals with the daily thoughts, dreams, and hopes of people, helping them to respond to the most complex philosophical and ethical issues of our time. The faith will be understandable and, then, actually claimed, despite all the multiplicity and contradictions of society’s attitudes and beliefs, when a person is aware of and deeply feels the obvious truth and strength of the message that God sends people through His Revelation. It is impossible for the human mind and the human word to be stronger than the Word of God. Moreover, if this obvious truth does not become apparent for many people, this means only that the beauty and credibility of the Divine Word darkens itself by that which we call today the “human factor”.
The witness of the Church to the world involves not only preaching from the church pulpit, but, an open, friendly, and interested dialogue, in which both parties talk and listen to one another. Through this dialogue, the truths of the faith are at least understandable, since they enter into creative and lively contact with the thoughts and beliefs of people. Furthermore, the Church enriches itself through this dialogue by the knowledge that it is in contact with contemporary humanity, with its way of thinking, and its questions for the Church.
Such dialogue also contributes to greater understanding between people of different viewpoints, including beliefs and religions, and contributes to the consolidation of civil peace and accord in our society and state. Within the framework of friendly dialogue and cooperation, we must develop church-state relations on a constitutional basis, so as to benefit the church, state, and people.
Patriarch Kirill with Lyubov Sliska (1953- ), First Deputy Speaker of the RF Gosduma
The First Hierarch of each Local Church is called upon, along with his brothers from the other Local Churches, to care for the unity of the Orthodox pleroma. Thanks to the joint prayer here of the First Hierarchs and representatives of the Holy Orthodox Churches, I will always be open to dialogue with other Local Churches and to joint efforts that would help to strengthen and improve inter-Orthodox cooperation to achieve greater coordination of pastoral and missionary efforts.
Young people are in dire need of spiritual guidance, especially today. This will be an object of special concern for us. In an era of moral relativism, when propaganda for violence and debauchery seduces the souls of our young people, we can not just sit and wait for them to turn to Christ. I encourage the clergy to meet young people, no matter how difficult it would be, and I ask middle-aged and older people to help them find faith in God and the meaning of life, and together with this, the realisation that there is genuine human happiness. Strong personalities, united and large families, a cohesive society… all this is a consequence of the mentality and way of life that stems from a sincere and deep faith.
Our Christian duty is to care for the suffering, for the orphaned, the poor, the disabled, the elderly, the prisoners, and the homeless. We can help all of these to regain hope. The voice of the Church should reinforce the voice of the weak and those deprived of power, so that they may find fitting justice.
We must complete many long and hard tasks. Now, I bring to mind the sacred precepts of the first and fifteenth patriarchs. Patriarch St Iova wrote, “It is a good deed to decorate and erect churches, but, if at the same time, we defile ourselves with the passions, then, God will spare neither us nor any of our churches”. “A new Russia will rise again from the ashes and from the abyss… Russia, who gave the world many ascetics of faith and piety, erecting churches in the cities, everywhere, and in our hearts, shines to the entire world with truth and love… Holy Rus”. Please God… make it so that these inspired words of His Holiness Patriarch Aleksei were prophetic.
With all my heart, I thank all those who gathered here to pray. I hope that your prayerful support, as well as your petitions for me before God throughout the Church, will never run out. Now, I would commend to all the archpastors, pastors, and other children of the Church the sacred words of Apostle St Paul, Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you (2 Corinthians 13:11).
1 February 2009