Kirill I (kĭrēlˈ) [key], 16th patriarch of Moscow and all Russia (2009–), b. Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) as Vladimir Mikhailovich Gundyayev. The son and grandson of Russian Orthodox priests, he became a priest in 1969 and subsequently taught at and was rector of the Leningrad seminary. He was appointed bishop of Vyborg in 1976, archbishbop of Smolensk in 1984, and metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad in 1991. Long active in the Russian church's ecumenical relations, he became chairman of the church's external relations dept. in 1989. After Patriarch Alexy II died (2008), Kirill was chosen as the Russian Orthodox church's interim leader, and was elected to succeed him in 2009. Regarded as a modernizer, he has favored improved relations with the Roman Catholic church.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches: General Biographies