The head of the Russian Orthodox Church said that Russian soldiers dying in the war against Ukraine would be forgiven, a few days after the partial mobilization ordered by President Vladimir Putin.
Patriarch Kirill is an ally of Putin and has supported the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He has criticized those who oppose the war in the past and called on the Russians to rally around the Kremlin.
“Many die in the fields of fratricidal war,” said 75-year-old Kirill in his first Sunday speech after the draft order. “The Church prays that this battle will end as soon as possible, so that as few brothers as possible will kill each other in this fratricidal war.”
“But at the same time, the Church realizes that if someone, driven by a sense of duty and the need to fulfill his oath… goes to do what he is called to do and if someone dies in the performance of that duty, then he has undoubtedly committed something that amounts to a sacrifice. He will have sacrificed himself for others. And therefore, we believe that this sacrifice washes away all the sins committed by such a man.”
Kirill’s support for the war in Ukraine has deepened the rift between the Russian Orthodox Church and other Orthodox Churches around the world.