“My son, the Church is always on the side of the powerful.”
(Werner Herzog, Aguirre: Wrath of God)
If I were patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, right now I would be threatening Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin with excommunication.
But of course, I’m not patriarch of anything: I’m just a gay warlock from Paganistan.
(Gods, who is this guy? Who could possibly take someone like that seriously?)
He’s sorry that people are suffering. He hopes that civilian casualties can be avoided. He prays for peace in Ukraine.
Note what he doesn’t say: That the war is wrong. That the war is unchristian. That the war needs to end.
Let me tell you the back story.
For the last 300 years, ecclesiastical affairs in Ukraine have been lorded over by the Russian Orthodox Church. Three years ago, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was granted autocephaly (essentially, jurisdictional independence) by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the Orthodox not-quite-pope; to date, thousands of churches in Ukraine have transferred their allegiance (and property) from the Moscow to the Kyiv patriarchates.
Needless to say, the ROC was pretty unhappy with this state of affairs. In a nutshell, Kirill backs Putin’s rape of Ukraine because he sees it as a way of getting back the property and power that he regards as rightfully his own. Essentially, he’s Putin in a golden omofór.