Kirill kĭrēl´ [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. He has favored improved relations with the Roman Catholic church, supported the Russian government and criticized opposition political protests, and called for women to focus on family and the home.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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