Metropolitan Kiril Officially Enthroned 16th Russian Patriarch

World | February 1, 2009, Sunday // 00:00| Views: | Comments: 0
Metropolitan Kiril Officially Enthroned 16th Russian Patriarch Metropolitan Kiril of Smolensk and Kaliningrad officially became Sunday the 16th leader of the Russian Orthodox Church. Photo by BGNES

Metropolitan Kiril of Smolensk and Kaliningrad officially became Sunday the 16th leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, leading information agencies report.

The ceremony was held for the first time in history in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow in the presence of 4,000 Church followers. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin were also among those attending the ceremony.

Kiril, who was selected last week after a vote of the Church Council in Moscow, is succeeding Patriarch Alexy II, who died in December.

After the cathedral bells had chimed for 15 minutes, Kiril, who arrived in a black limousine, was welcomed by two Metropolitans and a layman with the Russian traditional bread and salt at the entrance. He sat three times on the Patriarch's throne as the ritual requires. At the end of the ceremony, the Metropolitans threw the Patriarch's mantle on Kiril's shoulders, gave him the crosier while the other senior clergy chanted "Axios!" - the Greek word for "worthy" - three times.

Kiril's election was hailed by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and by the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI.

The new Patriarch, despite his very conservative views on homosexuality and abortion, is regarded by many as a liberal and modernizer, someone who can establishe closer relationships with other Christian leaders, and especially with the Catholic Church.

In addition to have met the Pope several times, Kiril has been the Head of the Church's External Relations until Alexy II's death and acting Head of the Church after that. Kiril has kept a high media profile and values the media spotlight. He is also the host of a religious TV show.
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