Countries around the world should unite in a “holy war” against terrorism, according to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
“Today’s war against terrorism should be a common cause,” said Patriarch Kirill during a news conference in London Monday. “It is not only Russia’s concern, it [is] a concern of all countries and we must get united to exterminate this evil.”
Relations between the West and Russia are at their lowest since the Cold War. Russia’s ongoing bombing campaigns in Syria have been a particular point of contention. Moscow claimed it intervened in Syria to counter the terrorism threat, but several Western and non-governmental sources claim Russian forces target civilians.
Despite the tense diplomatic situation, Kirill said he did not experience any “hostility” in the U.K.
“I felt a very warm and kind atmosphere,” said Kirill.
The Russian Orthodox church has close ties to the Russian government, which President Vladimir Putin has often leveraged to push his domestic policy. The church has been an asset in Russia’s attempts to draw support in Europe, strengthening its presence in countries like France.
“The church has become an instrument of the Russian state. It is used to extend and legitimize the interests of the Kremlin,” Sergei Chapnin, former editor of the official journal of the seat of the Russian Orthodox Church, told New York Times in September.
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