Kirill has called Mr. Putin’s long tenure “a miracle of God,” and has characterized the war as a just defense against liberal conspiracies to infiltrate Ukraine with “gay parades.”
“All of our people today must wake up — wake up — understand that a special time has come on which the historical fate of our people may depend,” he said in one April sermon. “We have been raised throughout our history to love our fatherland, and we will be ready to protect it, as only Russians can defend their country,” he said to soldiers in another…
Part of the answer, close observers and those who have known Kirill say, has to do with Mr. Putin’s success in bringing the patriarch to heel, as he has other important players in the Russian power structure. But it also stems from Kirill’s own ambitions.
Kirill has in recent years aspired to expand his church’s influence, pursuing an ideology consistent with Moscow being a “Third Rome,” a reference to a 15th-century idea of Manifest Destiny for the Orthodox Church, in which Mr. Putin’s Russia would become the spiritual center of the true church after Rome and Constantinople.
It is a grand project that dovetails neatly with — and inspired — Mr. Putin’s mystically tinged imperialism of a “Russkiy Mir,” or a greater Russian world.