#20 - JRL 2009-147 - JRL Home
Ukraine has no real opposition to Patriarch Kirill,
the Moscow Patriarchate sums up results of patriarchal visit

Moscow, August 6, Interfax – Pastoral visit of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia to Ukraine dismantled the myth about influential opposition to the Russian Orthodox Church existing there, Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk believes.

“The number of opponents (to the patriarchal visit – IF) was so insignificant if compared to the number of Orthodox believers who welcomed the Patriarch that it is impossible to speak of any real confrontation and opposition,” Archbishop Hilarion said at an Interfax press conference on Thursday.

According to him, at the background of thousands of believers who welcomed Patriarch Kirill all along his Ukrainian route, protest groups with “flags of only one structure” looked even more insignificant. Besides, the Moscow Patriarchate delegation got an impression that it was the same group protesting in different places: “people who followed the Patriarch just to give an appearance of protest moods.”

“We mean marginal groups and individual political groupings that dislike the Patriarch just because of their anti-Russian disposition. There’s no real opposition to the Russian Church (in Ukraine - IF) today,” Archbishop Hilarion believes.

The strongest impression the Archbishop got during the visit to Ukraine was multitudes of people in the Pochayev Laura who welcomed Patriarch Kirill “as their spiritual father” in last days of his visit, “it was a sea of people.” The Moscow Patriarchate official also noted that many protestors “who were probably paid for standing along the road with posters “threw down their banners with anti-Russian slogans and clasped their hands in repentance when Patriarch Kirill blessed them out of the window of his car.”

“It means that power of religious feeling prevailed over the political contract these people were to execute, perhaps for a small sum of money,” Archbishop Hilarion believes.

Head of the Moscow Patriarchate Information Department Vladimir Legoyda who also accompanied Patriarch Kirill in his trip to Ukraine said that in several places he saw posters, which participants in protests had thrown down to the ground. According to Legoyda, “people moved by deep convictions, don’t leave their placards.”

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