On March 6, ironically Forgiveness Sunday for the Orthodox, Patriarch Kirill abandoned all caution and blessed the war of aggression against Ukraine and the “false freedom” of democratic countries.
by Bitter Winter
Note: We publish the translation of the integral version of the sermon delivered by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow on March 6, 2022, in the Cathedral of the Holy Savior in Moscow. Our readers may judge for themselves. Surely, there can be different opinions about the Gay Pride parades, and criticizing these events from a religious point of view is also part of religious liberty. However, using them as a pretext to justify the military aggression of another country and the bombing and killing of thousands of women, men, and children, and doing it as a leader of a large religious body giving a sermon in his cathedral, is—to call it with its proper name—a shame and a scandal. The Russian soccer team has been expelled from the World Cup. Shouldn’t the World Council of Churches and the churches in ecumenical dialogue with the Russian Orthodox Church take some action after this sermon? Should not the international pro-family movement itself denounce the manipulation of its values to justify aggression and war?
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!
I heartily congratulate all of you, my dear authorities, fathers, brothers and sisters, on this Sunday, on Forgiveness Sunday, on the last Sunday before the start of the Holy Forty Days, the Great Lent!
The Great Lent is called by many ascetics the spiritual spring. It coincides with the physical spring and at the same time is perceived by the consciousness of the Church as a spiritual spring. What is spring? Spring is the rebirth of life, it is renewal, it is new strength. We know that it is in the spring that a powerful juice breaks through to a height of ten, twenty, one hundred meters, reviving the trees. This is truly an amazing miracle of God, a miracle of life. Spring is the rebirth of life; it is a great symbol of life. And therefore, it is not at all accidental that the main spring holiday is the Easter of the Lord, which is also a sign, a symbol of eternal life. And we believe that this is so, which means that the entire Christian faith that we share with you is a faith that affirms life, which is against death, against destruction, which affirms the need to follow Divine laws, in order to live, in order not to perish either in this world or in the world to come.
But we know that this spring has been overshadowed by grave events related to the deterioration of the political situation in the Donbass, almost the beginning of hostilities. I would like to say something on this subject.
For eight years there have been attempts to destroy what exists in the Donbass. And in the Donbass there is rejection, a fundamental rejection of the so-called values that are offered today by those who claim world power. Today there is a test for the loyalty to this new world order, a kind of pass to that “happy” world, the world of excess consumption, the world of false “freedom.” Do you know what this test is? The test is very simple and at the same time terrible—it is the Gay Pride parade. The demands on many to hold a gay parade are a test of their loyalty to the new world order; and we know that if people or countries reject these demands, then they do not enter into that world order, they become strangers to it.
But we know what this sin is, which is promoted through the so-called Prides. This is a sin that is condemned by the Word of God, both the Old and the New Testament. Moreover, the Lord, condemning sin, does not condemn the sinner. He only calls him to repentance, but not to ensure that through a sinful person and his behavior, sin becomes a life standard, a variation of human behavior regarded as respected and acceptable.
If humanity starts believing that sin is not a violation of God’s law, if humanity agrees that sin is one of the options for human behavior, then human civilization will end there. And Gay Pride parades are designed to demonstrate that sin is one of the legitimate variations of human behavior. That is why in order to enter the club of those “free” countries, it is necessary to hold a Gay Pride parade. Not to make a political statement “we are with you,” not to sign any agreements, but to hold a Gay Pride parade. And we know how people resist these demands and how this resistance is suppressed by force. This means that we are talking about imposing by force a sin condemned by God’s law, and therefore, to impose on people by brutal force the denial of God and His truth.
Therefore, what is happening today in the sphere of international relations has not only political significance. We are talking about something different and much more important than politics. We are talking about human salvation, about where humanity will end up, on which side of God the Savior, who comes into the world as its Judge and Creator, on the right or on the left, we will be. Today, out of weakness, stupidity, ignorance, and most often out of unwillingness to resist, many go there, to the left side. And all that is connected with the justification of sin, condemned by the Bible, is today a test for our faithfulness to the Lord, for our ability to confess faith in our Savior.
Everything that I say has not just some theoretical meaning and not only a spiritual meaning. Around this topic today there is a real war. Who is attacking Ukraine today, where the suppression and extermination of people in the Donbass has been going on for eight years? Eight years of suffering and the whole world is silent: what does that mean? But we know that our brothers and sisters are really suffering; moreover, they may suffer for their loyalty to our Church.
And so today, on Forgiveness Sunday, on the one hand, as your shepherd, I call on everyone to forgive sins and insults, including where it is very difficult to do this, where people are at war with each other. But forgiveness without justice is capitulation and weakness. Therefore, forgiveness must be accompanied by the indispensable preservation of the right to stand on the right side of the world, on the side of God’s truth, on the side of the Divine Commandments, on the side of what the Light of Christ, His Word, His Gospel, His greatest covenants given to the human race, reveal to us.
All of the above indicates that we have entered into a struggle that has not a physical, but a metaphysical significance. I know how, unfortunately, Orthodox people, believers, choosing the path of least resistance in this war, do not reflect on everything that we are thinking about today, but just follow the path that the powers that be show them. We do not condemn anyone, we do not invite anyone to come to the cross, we just say to ourselves: we will be faithful to the word of God, we will be faithful to His law, we will be faithful to the law of love and justice, and if we see violations of this law, we will never be tolerant with those who destroy this law, blurring the line between holiness and sin, and even more so with those who promote sin as an example or as one of the models of human behavior.
Today, our brothers in the Donbass, Orthodox people, are undoubtedly suffering, and we cannot but be with them, first of all in prayer. It is necessary to pray that the Lord would help them to preserve the Orthodox faith, not to succumb to the temptation of this world. At the same time, we must pray that peace will come as soon as possible, that the blood of our brothers and sisters will stop flowing, that the Lord will incline His mercy to the long-suffering Donbass land, which has been bearing this mournful stamp for eight years, generated by human sin and hatred.
Entering the field of Great Lent, let us try to forgive everyone. What is forgiveness? If you ask for forgiveness from a person who has broken the law or done something evil and unfair to you, you thereby do not justify his behavior, but simply stop hating this person. He ceases to be your enemy, which means that by your forgiveness you deliver him to the judgment of God. This is the true meaning of forgiving each other our sins and mistakes. We forgive, we renounce hatred and vindictiveness, but we cannot there, in the face of heaven, accept what is not true; therefore, by our forgiveness, we commit our offenders into the hands of God, so that both God’s judgment and God’s mercy may be administered on them. So that our Christian attitude towards human sins, delusions and insults will not be the cause of their death, but the just judgment of God would be carried out on everyone, including those who take upon themselves the heaviest responsibility, widening the chasm between brethren, filling it with hatred, malice, and death.
May the merciful Lord execute His righteous judgment on all of us. And so that as a result of this judgment we do not stand on the left side of the Savior who came into the world, we must repent of our own sins. Approach your life with a very deep and impartial analysis, ask yourself what is good and what is bad, by no means excusing ourselves by saying, “I had a fight with this or that because they were wrong.” That is a false argument, that is the wrong approach. We must always ask before God: Lord, what did I do wrong? And if God helps us to realize our own unrighteousness, then repent of that unrighteousness.
It is today, on Forgiveness Sunday, that we must accomplish this feat of self-denial and move away from our own sins and our unrighteousness, the feat of surrendering ourselves into the hands of God; and the most important feat is the forgiveness of those who offended us.
May the Lord help us all to pass through the days of the Holy Forty Days so as to worthily enter into the joy of the Bright Resurrection of Christ. And let us pray that all those who are fighting today, who are shedding blood, who are suffering, will also enter into this joy of the Resurrection in peace and tranquility. Because what joy will there be if some are in the world, while others are in the power of evil and in the sorrow of internecine warfare?
May the Lord help us all in this way, and not otherwise, to enter the days of Holy Great Lent, to save our souls and contribute to the multiplication of goodness in our sinful and often terribly misguided world, so that the truth of God may reign and dominate and lead the human race. Amen.