Moscow, February 1, 2017
The Russian Orthodox Church is celebrating today, Wednesday, February 1 the eighth anniversary of the accession of Patriarch Kirill to the primatial throne.
Following the December 5, 2008 passing of the beloved Patriarch Alexey II, the Holy Synod elected Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad as Locum Tenens of the patriarchal throne, and as the sixth Patriarch of Moscow on January 27, 2009, with his enthronement following on February 1.
Per tradition, Patriarch Kirill served the Divine Liturgy today in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral in celebration of his enthronement, with numerous hierarchs and clergy concelebrating. The ceremony of greeting the first hierarch follows the Divine Liturgy, during which developments in Church life under the patriarch are typically addressed, as well as hopes and plans for the future.
Patriarch Kirill has spearheaded a number of initiatives finding support in the Russian Orthodox Church, notable among them a change in the system of diocesan administration, reports RIA-Novosti.
There are currently 59 metropolinates, 296 dioceses, and two metropolitan districts in Kazakhstan and Central Asia, with a total of 366 bishops serving in the Russian Church. By comparison, in 2009 there were 159 dioceses. “The decision of the Holy Synod” to create more dioceses “was aimed at bringing the hierarchs closer to parish life, the clergy, and people,” reads a patriarchate press release.
As of February 2016, the Russian Orthodox Church has 35,171 priests—7,955 more than in 2009—and 4,816 deacons—1,362 more than in 2009.
Patriarch Kirill (in the world Vladimir Mikhailovich Gundyaev) was born on November 20, 1946 in Leningrad into a priest family. He was tonsured as a monk in 1969 with the name Kirill. He graduated from the Leningrad Theological Academy with honors, was appointed Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations in 1989 and elevated to the rank of metropolitan in 1991.