[Full sermon on Russian here: http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/5914188.html?fbclid=IwAR37VW4l-JKWsxj16MhepsDlU2K0kIRX__18KQNoA9IJRoJ78Ja8PjlkFP8]
But then, about halfway through, the sermon took a turn for the shocking and dangerous. It was at about the point that he acknowledged where he stood: in a cathedral built not so much for the glory of God as for the glory of Russian military might. Here the Patriarch said he had come to address the leaders of their Russian forces, and through them, their troops. He reminded the assembled congregation of Vladimir Putin’s favorite propaganda point in this war: that Russia was fighting fascism in Ukraine just as it had in the Second World War.
And then the Patriarch, whose office was just a few centuries ago (a blink of the eye in the memory of the Christian East) located not in Moscow, but Kyiv, offered up a version of history that simply erases Ukraine from the map. Kirill blames “various forces” (i.e. outsiders, including—one would imagine—the West) that emerged in the Middle Ages for what he regards as a false division between Russia and Ukraine. In fact, he doesn’t even acknowledge there are such people as Ukrainians, referring to all involved parties (including, perhaps, one could speculate, Belarusians) as “Holy Russians.”
Disregarding for a moment how simply, factually wrong Patriarch Kirill’s history is, this sermon does mark a dangerous escalation in the rhetoric coming from the Moscow Patriarchate—and, we can assume, by extension the Russian state. This rhetorical advance is made all the more dangerous by the fact that most in the West won’t even know the sermon happened, let alone be aware of its pernicious implications.