Russian Orthodox Church braces itself for full impact of economic crisis

By Ecumenical News International
March 24, 2009

The global financial crisis has affected the Russian Orthodox Church, which, like the State, is curtailing programmes and preparing for the possibility of further cutbacks, its new leader, Patriarch Kirill I, has said - writes Sophia Kishkovsky.

"Just as the state has not yet felt the full pain of the crisis, the church is also not feeling the full pain yet," Kirill said at a 22 March 2009 media conference in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave on the Baltic coast.

In remarks reported on, the official website of the Moscow Patriarchate, Kirill said the church did not have any special immunity from the financial crisis.

"It is not an elite part of society but an organic part of society," he said, while describing the financial crisis as trivial compared to past upheavals the church had faced.

"We are simply trying to see the long-term prospects and to make prognoses, and we think that we should be prepared for a time when the financing of church programmes might be cut very significantly," said Kirill, who was enthroned as Patriarch of Moscow in February.

"But the church is no stranger to this. That which we call a crisis today can in no way compare to what we endured over the course of the 20th century. We have grown used to difficulties that greatly exceed those which our society, including the church, is encountering at this time."

He held his news conference jointly with Kaliningrad Region Governor Georgy Boos in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in the city of Kaliningrad, which used to be the German city of Königsberg.

The Kaliningrad Region borders Poland and Lithuania, and is geographically cut off from the rest of Russia more than 300 kilometres (about 190 miles) to the east.

Before becoming patriarch, Kirill was the Orthodox church's metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad.

[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches.]

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