Patriarch Kirill is 75 years old and has been heading the Autonomous Russian Orthodox Church since 2009. It has more than 100 million believers and is the largest church in Orthodox Christianity. Since taking office, Kirill has always supported the nationalist policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin and given them religious significance. That is why it is now under the eyes of the European Union.
He is not alone in the criticism. Pope Francis recently accused Kirill of being “Putin’s altar boy”. The position of Patriarch Kirill is also controversial within the Orthodox Church. A number of people and clergy left the Russian Orthodox Church and joined other Orthodox denominations. He also criticizes the Patriarch of Constantinople (now Istanbul) Bartholomew, the head of all the Orthodox churches, Kirill.
Unlike the Catholic Church, Orthodox Christianity consists of a number of self-governing churches, usually organized on the basis of a country or nation. Thus, those churches in Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Georgia, among others, are not automatically subject to the authority of the Supreme Patriarch of Constantinople. For example, in 2019, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church removed itself from the authority of the Russian Church to which it was previously subject.