The Russian Orthodox Church is “holding back the antichrist,” Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia was quoted as saying this week.
RIA Novosti, a state-run Russian news agency, quoted the patriarch as saying the Church and her faithful were serving as an effective block against the advance of the antichrist.
Kirill, who made the remarks on Thursday, made no mention of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But his reference to “external forces” seemed to be in line with the Kremlin’s justification for making war on Ukraine.
“Why did external forces rise up against the Russian lands?” he said. “Why do they strive to destroy, divide, set brother against brother?”
Russian President Vladimir V. Putin has made public statements supporting the view that Ukraine, which declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, is an inextricable part of Russia and that the two peoples are spiritual brothers. Slavic Orthodox tradition, which manifests itself in Orthodox Churches in Ukraine and Russia, as well as in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, began with the Baptism of Kyiv-Ukraine under Prince Volodymyr in the year 988. Russians often think of Kyiv as the “Mother of All Russian Cities.”
Kirill, who is close to Putin, has defended Moscow’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, as Putin terms it, as part of a crusade to defeat encroaching liberal values. A few Sundays ago, during a Divine Liturgy in a Moscow cathedral, Kirill said the war has a lot to do with a Western homosexual agenda. The primate has failed to condemn Putin’s war against its neighbor.
This week, Kirill said that the Book of Revelation “mentions a certain force that holds back the coming into the world of the antichrist.”
“Some thought it is the Church that is holding this back, and that is correct,” he said.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains the antichrist this way:
Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.Catechism of the Catholic Church 675
Kirill said that the Orthodox Church “keeps people from losing their bearings in life. … It is the Orthodox faith, living and acting in the Orthodox Church – this is the force that holds back (the antichrist).”
As reported by Reuters news agency, Kirill said it was no coincidence that “at this force today are aimed all the sharp arrows of all those who seek to compromise the Church, to divide and tear it from the people.”