Patriarch Kirill says Religion Can Defeat Terrorism

By Serge Serebro, Vitebsk Popular News [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons

Patriarch Kirill shares his views on extremism during a trip to Albania.

The leader of Russia’s Orthodox Church and Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill says that only religion can effectively fight terrorism while on a trip to Albania, a Muslim-majority country. He is visiting the country’s capital Tirana to hold a mass along with the Archbishop of Albania, Anastasios, which was attended by the country’s small population of Orthodox Christians.

During an interview with Albanian media, Patriarch Kirill said, “I think that religion plays a very significant role in the fight against radicalism. I see no reasons other than those offered by the religion, which can disable the ideological basis of radicalism and terrorism.”

He added that if religious teachings inspire extremists and they use religious ideas as a motive for their radical actions, then only religion itself has the power to change their perspective. “Only religious organizations can address their believers and help them understand that the ideas of extremists are false and dangerous both for people’s spiritual lives and their physical existence,” he said.

The Russian Orthodox Leader also said extremists are motivated by their incorrect interpretations of their religious teachings and doctrines, and they often justify their extreme actions saying they must satisfy the God.

He added that the church has the responsibility to share its honest opinion on political actions, but without actually interfering with politics itself. “I’m totally convinced that the church has the right to give a moral evaluation of this or that policy by this or that political leader, with an aim to defend its followers from political figures who may damage them spiritually or physically,” he said.

Kirill has spoken positively of Russian President Putin many times, even going so far as to call the successes of his presidency as a “miracle of God.” Putin, being on good terms with the Patriarch, has increasingly favored conservative policies which would benefit the Orthodox Church. Moreover, the president has even regularly and faithfully observed Orthodox Christian traditions like Epiphany and Easter service every year.

Only 7 percent of Albania’s population identifies as Orthodox Christian, and among them, even fewer identify specifically as Russian Orthodox. In recent years, Kirill and the Russian Orthodox Church has become extremely useful for Putin in the Balkan region, where Orthodox Christians make up a considerable percentage of the population.

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