In 2019, the Russian Orthodox Church got involved in a project that won’t have an easy way out. Patriarch Kirill decided to sow chaos in the Orthodox world and form its alternative center.
It is clear that the fight against Constantinople – the struggle for leadership in world Orthodoxy – is a very costly project in every sense. It requires not only huge money, but also connections, ideas, and people –ideologues and executioners. But the ROC has none of those in its ranks.
Kirill Gundyaev’s organization has been struggling financially since Russian law enforcement have virtually taken control of all ROC money flows, while the church has been seeing a decline in the number of worshipers and the volumes of donations. People are fleeing from the ROC, especially in big cities. Also, Ukraine is no longer “feeding” the clerics in Moscow as well as it used to.
But Patriarch Kirill still seeks to play geopolitical ambitions because the struggle for world Orthodoxy is big sponsor money. This is government assistance. This is a golden stock of the Russian budget, which is not enough for everyone anymore.
How successful will this risky endeavor be?
So far, the ROC hasn’t been particularly successful. Pillars of Orthodoxy – Constantinople, Alexandria, Hellas, and Athos – turned their backs on the ROC. At the same time, the symphony with the Serbian Church isn’t working out too well yet. There are also some very serious issues with the Georgian Church.
In other words, the march into the outer world, the second one since Stalin times, has so far been a failure for the ROC. Given Kirill’s poor health and internal squabbles among his entourage, the defeat will only get worse.