The Moscow revolution: Kirill and the Curia
The main changes include the gutting of the Department for External
Relations, which is losing many of its powers. New dicasteries are
being created and entrusted to the new patriarch's trusted men.
Metropolitan Kliment, the former Chancellor and Kirill's main
competitor to succeed Alexy II, heads to the publishing advisory
board. The new appointments also include a layman, as head of the
newly created Information Department.
Moscow (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The first Holy Synod under the direction
of newly elected Patriarch Kirill has concluded with a revolution in
the Curia of the Russian Orthodox Church. In practice, the powerful
Department for External Relations (DECR) is being dismantled. Kirill
himself had led the department until his election as successor to Alexy II.
The DECR will be headed by Ilarion Alfeev, who until now was bishop
of Vienna, and was a proponent of Kirill's election. But the
department is being gutted, and the management of relations with
dioceses, branches, monasteries, and parishes is passing directly
under the patriarch's supervision. For this purpose, the Synod has
instituted a secretariat for institutions abroad, which will answer
directly to Kirill, while the DECR - according to the minutes of the
Synod - will retain only "the oversight of institutes that conduct
In the wake of the dismantling of the DECR, the meeting last March 31
instituted new dicasteries and offices. Above all, there is the
synodal Department for Relations between the Church and Society,
which is entrusted with the "relationship with the organisms of
legislative power, with the political parties, with the labor unions,
cultural organizations, and the other institutions of civil society
in the canonical territory of the Patriarchate of Moscow." The new
dicastery will be led by Fr. Vsevolod Chaplin, one of the patriarch's
trusted men, and will also have the possibility of establishing
contacts with the governments in the CSI and Baltic countries.
The radical reshaping of the DECR is interpreted by many as a clear
break with the most recent past of the Moscow Church - the department
had been created during the Soviet era - and, together with the
structural reforms introduced by the Holy Synod, it appears to be a
maneuver to concentrate the powers of governance into the hands of
the new patriarch.
The other new developments include the creation of a synodal
Information Department, which is being entrusted to a layman:
Vladimir Legojda, director of the monthly Forma, the main Orthodox
periodical, with a circulation of about 40,000 copies sent to
churches and newsstands all over the Federation.
Finally, a doctoral branch of the Theological Academy of Moscow has
been created at the DECR, "for the purpose of improving," the minutes
state, "the level of formation and specific preparation of personnel
capable of managerial and diplomatic work within the Church."
The Holy Synod also accepted the resignation of Metropolitan Kliment,
Kirill's main competitor in the elections for the office of
patriarch. The former Chancellor of the patriarchate of Moscow, one
of the most important posts in the Russian Orthodox Church hierarchy,
he has been appointed president of the publishing advisory board, and
has been replaced by archbishop of Saransk and of Mordovia Varsonofij.
There have also been changes in the leadership of the synodal
Department for Religious Instruction and Catechesis: Ioann Ekonomcev,
rector of the Orthodox Institute of Saint John, has been replaced as
president by Bishop Zarajsk, former Chancellor of the patriarchate's
parishes in the United States.