Russian Orthodox Church head says Russia and Africa share common values

Russia and Africa together defend traditional norms of morality and social foundations, developing relations in the spiritual and cultural sphere, Patriarch Kirill said.

“We are united by adherence to traditional values, conservative view of human nature, rejection of the ideology of permissiveness and overconsumption”, he told participants of the Russia-Africa forum. According to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, the countries are also in solidarity in the pursuit of a “just world order”.

Patriarch Kirill complained that “today religious people often become hostages of political confrontations”, so the Patriarchal Exarchate of Africa was created to help “Orthodox brothers” on the continent.

“Its activity contributes to the development of traditionally fraternal ties between the peoples of Russia and African countries and has a positive impact on interreligious and interfaith dialog on the continent”, the Primate noted.

Kirill added that the ROC “counts on good cooperation with the leadership of African countries and all healthy forces of society”.

The Patriarchal Exarchate in Africa was established on December 29, 2021. It included two dioceses – North and South Africa. Metropolitan Leonid (Gorbachev) of Klin was appointed exarch. He is known for his statements in support of the war in Ukraine and direct calls for the assassination of the leadership of that country.

“The geography of the African Exarchate’s activities surprisingly coincided with the zone of interests of Wagner PMC – the first parishes appeared in the Central African Republic”, Novaya Gazeta wrote.

Metropolitan Leonid, contrary to the canonical order established in the Russian Orthodox Church, does not make archpastoral visits to dioceses in Africa, but “stays almost without a trace in Moscow” and fights for traditional values in his Telegram channel, says journalist Aleksandr Soldatov, who specializes in religious issues, in an interview with RFI.

He calls the exarch “a diligent commissar in a cassock”. The metropolitan does not forget to praise the FSB and sometimes prefers to “deliver the word of God” through the mercenaries of Wagner PMC.

“What he says in numerous interviews has little to do with religion at all – it is pure Kremlin propaganda with all its archetypes and stamps”, Soldatov notes.

In April, Metropolitan Leonid claimed that “in a year and three months” the Russian Orthodox Church had “managed to enter the continent tightly”. However, according to Soldatov, no one knows reliable statistics on this, not even the exarch himself. “The spread of figures is simply stunning: according to various sources, from 40 to 800 clerics have joined the ROC in Africa. The latter figure is comparable to the total number of priests of the Patriarchate of Alexandria”, says the journalist.

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