Patriarch Kirill fires Hilarion, the “deputy” opposed to the war in Ukraine

from Gian Guido Vecchi

The metropolitan, transferred to Hungary, will no longer be the foreign minister of the Russian Orthodox Church. He had quoted Rasputin’s words to the Tsar: War can have catastrophic consequences for Russia

VATICAN CITY – The patriarch of Moscow Kirill he fired Metropolitan Hilarionhitherto chairman of the External Relations Department and therefore Foreign Minister of the Russian Orthodox Church, in fact the number two.

Hilarion, who was also removed from the office of Metropolitan of Volokolamsk, had distinguished himself in recent months for a more moderate position, while the patriarch continued to bless the war wanted by his ally and friend Vladimir Putin, marrying in toto the Kremlin propaganda. The Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church has announced that from now on Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk will be theadministrator of the Budapest-Hungary Metropoliswith the exemption from the functions of president of the Department of external ecclesiastical relations and of permanent member of the Holy Synod.

Metropolitan Anthony of Korsun will replace him as foreign minister and permanent member of the Orthodox Synod. Hilarion, as head of external relations, was the man who was preparing the new meeting between Pope Francis and Kirill before the Russian invasion of Ukraine precipitated the situation. In the end, the meeting was postponed by the Holy See to a later date. Francesco, in the interview with the director of the CourierLuciano Fontana, had been lapidary: The patriarch of Moscow cannot transform himself into Putin’s altar boy. In all of this, Hilarion had tried to distance herself from her superior.

In the latest issue of Civilt Cattolicathe Jesuit magazine, the director father Antonio Spadaro he recalled two important positions taken by the metropolitan. On a January 29 radio broadcast on Russia 24 channelhad spoken with concern about what was happening, recalled that in America, Ukraine and Russia there are politicians who believe that war is the right decision in this situation, and he said he was deeply convinced that war is not a method of solving accumulated political problems.

In a later broadcast he went so far as to quote Rasputin, who had warned the Tsar that if Russia had entered the war, it would have threatened the entire country with catastrophic consequences, leading not only to the loss of part of Russian lands but also of Russia as such. The independent site Orthodox News he recalls today Metropolitan Hilarion’s effort to differentiate himself from the aggressive attitude of the Patriarch of Moscow and his full identification with the Kremlin’s requests, citing some recent episodes.

The first was the meeting with Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus in Cyprus, within the Orthodox Assembly of the World Council of Churches, despite the fact that the Church of Russia interrupted Eucharistic communion with the Archbishop of Cyprus, after recognition by part of the latter of the Ukrainian autocephalous Church. This was followed by the World Council of Churches (WCC) pre-conference e the final text issued at the end, which spoke of a unanimous condemnation of the war raging in Ukraine.

Hilarion was present at the meeting, as head of the mission of the Russian Church, as well as participated in the discussions that led to the final text of the conclusions, adopted unanimously. Furthermore, in his recent statements on relations with the “Orthodox Churches of Constantinople, Alexandria, Cyprus and Greece”, he also stressed that “I do not think we should consider them enemies”, and spoke of “Temporary difficulties” in the Orthodox Church, which will be overcome “definitively” because “a pan-Orthodox or inter-Orthodox solution will be found, which will allow to heal the wounds inflicted on the body of world orthodoxy and restore full communion between the Churches. It is important to note that Kirill, appointed twenty years earlier by Alexis II, was also the foreign minister of the Patriarchate when the old patriarch died and succeeded him in 2009. Hilarion was the most likely candidate for Kirill’s succession. And maybe he could still be in the futureif in the end Putin and the patriarch ended up in disgrace.

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