War in Ukraine is a 'metaphysical' battle against a civilization built on 'gay parades,' Russian Orthodox leader says

Patriarch Kirill and Vladimir Putin
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Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, delivered a sermon Sunday in which he referred to the war in Ukraine as a "metaphysical" struggle against a godless international order.

He argued that war broke out after eight years of "attempts to destroy what exists in the Donbas," because the pro-Russian separatist republics embodied "a fundamental rejection of the so-called values ​​that are offered today by those who claim world power." Kirill did not mention that a majority of Ukrainians are also Orthodox.

This world order, Kirill said, offers "excess consumption" and "visible 'freedom'" to any nation that proves its loyalty by "hold[ing] a gay parade." Kyiv hosts an annual gay pride parade.

In 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a ban on gay "propaganda," a term that included pride parades and exposing minors to information about homosexuality. Gay sex remains decriminalized in Russia.

Putin frequently accuses the West of "denying moral principles and all traditional identities" while portraying Russia as the guardian of "the Christian values that constitute the basis of Western civilization."

Only around 6 percent of Russians attend church regularly. Russia also has the highest abortion rate in the world.

Kirill, a strong supporter of Putin, urged his flock on Sunday not to "put up with … those who promote sin" — specifically homosexuality — "as an example or as one of the models of human behavior."

He also said Orthodox Christians who oppose the war are "humbly follow[ing] the path that the powers that be show them."

Kirill delivered this sermon on Forgiveness Sunday, a day on which Orthodox Christians prepare for the penitential season of Lent and ask forgiveness of one another.

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