Metropolitan Kirill, who was recently enthroned as the 16th patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, has stressed his task as ensuring unity and preserving the faith, but is also seen as more 'political'.
The murder of two Jesuit priests from Moscow's Catholic community in their apartment in central Moscow, just a block from the Russian capital's police HQ, is making church officials concerned about recent killings of clerics.
Patriarch Ilia of Georgia and Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Aleksei II are doing all they can to ensure that the conflict between their nations does not become "a people's war, a holy war", echoing earlier nationalistic fervour.
After a visit to Russia, the Vatican's top official for Christian unity has said a meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and Patriarch Alexei II of the Russian Orthodox Church is "possible". Such an encounter would be a first.
President Vladimir Putin's successor, Dmitry Medvedev, has been inaugurated in the Kremlin with pomp, circumstance, and prayers from Patriarch Alexei II of the Russian Orthodox Church - which has paid tribute to the new national leader.