Reuters) – The head of the Russian Orthodox Church has said that Russian soldiers who die in the war against Ukraine will be cleansed of all their sins, days after President Vladimir Putin ordered the country’s first mobilization since World War Two.
Patriarch Kirill is a key Putin ally and backer of the invasion. He has previously criticised those who oppose the war and called on Russians to rally round the Kremlin.
“Many are dying on the fields of internecine warfare,” Kirill, 75, said in his first Sunday address since the mobilization order. “The Church prays that this battle will end as soon as possible, so that as few brothers as possible will kill each other in this fratricidal war. But at the same time, the Church realizes that if somebody, driven by a sense of duty and the need to fulfill their oath … goes to do what their duty calls of them, and if a person dies in the performance of this duty, then they have undoubtedly committed an act equivalent to sacrifice. They will have sacrificed themselves for others. And therefore, we believe that this sacrifice washes away all the sins that a person has committed.”
“Christ is Risen, and we all shall rise with Him. And life is eternal! And therefore, go forward bravely to do your military duty. And remember that if you lay down your life for your fatherland, for your friends as the Holy Scripture says, you will be together with God in His Kindgom, in His glory, in His eternal life.”