The head of the Russian Orthodox Church has said that Russian soldiers who die on military duty in the war against Ukraine will be cleansed of all their sins. Patriarch Kirill – a key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin – spoke days after a partial mobilization of reservists ordered by Putin to bolster Russia's forces in Ukraine.
Speaking on Sunday from the Church of the Holy Right-Believing Prince Alexander Nevsky, near Peredelkino, Kirill said of the recruits: "He sacrifices himself for others. And therefore we believe that this sacrifice washes away all the sins that a person has committed."
Kirill, leader of Russia’s dominant religious group, had earlier stoked backlash as he sen the strongest signal justifying his country’s invasion of Ukraine — describing the conflict as part of a struggle against sin and pressure from liberal foreigners to hold “gay parades” as the price of admission to their ranks.
Kirill, a longtime ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, had already refrained from criticizing the Russian invasion – alienating many in the Ukrainian Orthodox churches who had previously stayed loyal to the Moscow patriarch during a schism in their country. Several of these former loyalists are now snubbing Kirill in their public prayers, with some demanding independence from the Moscow church even as their country’s political independence is imperiled.
Kirill, in a sermon delivered Sunday before the start of Orthodox Lent, echoed Putin’s unfounded claims that Ukraine was engaged in the “extermination” of Russian loyalists in Donbas, the breakaway eastern region of Ukraine held since 2014 by two Russian-backed separatist groups. Kirill focused virtually all of his talk about the war on Donbas — with no mention of Russia’s widespread invasion and its bombardment of civilian targets.
(Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from a syndicated feed; only the image & headline may have been reworked by www.republicworld.com)