Return to Home Page

Words from Patriarch Kyrill on the Future

Our Russian Orthodox Church has tens of millions of people living in sixty-two countries. When I think about all these countries and people scattered over different Continents and looking to Moscow as the centre of gravity, that says to me, among other things, that as Patriarch I must try and shape my life around this. Then I realise what a huge responsibility lies on my shoulders…

Sometimes, people say that our country cannot live without an ideology…It needs an ideology in order to survive. I asked myself the question, ‘Is that true?’ In reply I thought, ‘No, it isn’t’. At best an ideology survives for three to four generations. No ideology that there has ever been has lasted longer than that. One of the most powerful of all ideologies ruled our country. Why was it strong? Why did it survive for three generations, but another ideology in Germany only lasted for one generation? It was because the ideology in our country exploited the Christian idea. People remained faithful, as has already been said, not because they went to church…they could not do that…in a spiritual sense, they were driven underground. Nevertheless, they kept the system of values formed in them by Orthodoxy and the dominant ideology exploited this system of values.

Where did the heroes of labour on building projects come from? Where did the heroes who faced enemy bullets come from? Did the ideology of atheism force people to go on against the bullets or inspire them to give their lives to building railways? Of course not, because the ideology of atheism does not believe in the life to come and therefore any appeal to sacrifice your life is meaningless, because this life is the only one. Indeed, there is only one answer to this: ‘Take your ideology out of here, I want to live, I want to love, have a family, I want to have home comforts’. How can you inspire people to get up and go over the top, if there is nothing beyond the grave? Yet, people went. They did not do that just because there were armed detachments behind them, they went in all conscience.

In our people Christian moral ideas operated on a genetic level. However, ideology is not a living thing. We do not need any more ideologies. Our people need a clear, strong system of Christian values. The Church preaches that we should not be bullies, that churches are not merely collection points for money and that ruling bishops are not petty princes. Today, we are building all this in order to revive the moral sense of our people, who, after five generations of no contact with the Church, are beginning to lose basic moral principles and the momentum inherited from the efforts of our forebears over a thousand years. We have to re-educate our young people and so decide on how life in our Motherland will unfold in generations to come, keeping great values such as love, friendship, sacrifice and heroism, and ensuring that they never disappear from the lives of our people…

Today, we all need to take virtues out of the purely religious realm and introduce them into our general life. We need to use our moral ideas as the foundations for our politics, economics and law and order, as the foundations for our culture, because there is nothing stronger and more significant than our moral principles. If laws are not backed up by morality, they have no life in them. If the authorities do not base their operations on moral principles, their rule is not viable. If law enforcement is not based on moral principles, people will see the authorities as agents of oppression and coercion that do not protect the people. We must imbue everything with a moral and spiritual component that comes from the depths of our national life.

Now, I would like to say a few words about the Olympic Games…The Olympics are an opportunity to show the face of our people around the world…We must show the face of Russia, of our peoples, their identity, their spiritual power and their cultures, so that those who knew nothing about our country, who knew nothing about Russia, except for matroshka dolls, caviar and vodka, who do not have any connection with Russia, will suddenly say to themselves: ‘This is a great country, this is a great nation, it has a deep moral tradition, it is a great spiritual force’…

We spoke of building churches. Once again, I want to emphasise that this is not because we simply want more churches, this is not so that we can send more priests, this is so that we can change the lives of our people…Next to the churches we must build community centres and social centres, work with young people, people with various illnesses and older people. The parish is the centre of social and cultural life in villages, it always has been. If we all work together to revive the social aspects of the Orthodox parish, we shall really change the face of Russia…Today, it is very important to understand that true patriotism is connected with faith, because faith awakens our moral strength, it strengthens our spirit. If we wish to save our country, we can only do so by relying on this strength.

6 December 2010

  to top of page