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Metropolitan Kirill elected Patriarch of Russian Orthodox Church

MOSCOW – Metropolitan Kirill is the new Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

The 62-year-old Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad was elected at a Local Council meeting in Christ the Saviour Cathedral here on Jan 27. He received 508 ballots (72 per cent) out of 702 votes cast. To be elected Patriarch, a candidate has to have the support of more than half the delegates.

The other candidate, Metropolitan Kliment of Kaluga and Borovsk, received 169 votes. There was a third candidate, Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and Slutsk, but he pulled out of the election.

State and Church publications have described Metropolitan Kirill as the “most modern and open of candidates”. But later, a campaign was launched to present him as a staunch defender of Orthodoxy following fears that he might be accused of being too internationalist or too close to the Catholic Pope.

Some analysts saw Metropolitan Kirill as the “best-known Orthodox figure outside Russia”, given his experience in the Patriarchate’s External Relations Department.

Born Vladimir Michajlovič Gundjaev in 1946 in Saint-Petersburg (then Leningrad), the new patriarch is the son of an Orthodox priest. After studying in Leningrad’s seminary and Theological Academy he was consecrated monk in 1969 by Metropolitan Nikodim Rotov and served as the latter’s secretary till 1971. During this period he also taught dogmatic theology at the seminary and Theological Academy.

A leader with ecumenical commitment, he represented the Moscow Patriarchate at the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva between 1971 and 1974. He also served as a member of the WCC Executive and Central Committees, the WCC governing bodies, from 1975 to 1988.

He became bishop in 1976 and archbishop in 1977. In December 1984 he was named to the diocese of Smolensk and has been the Archbishop of Smolensk and Kaliningrad since 1988.

He was appointed metropolitan in 1991. He has favoured accommodation with the government in the last 20 years, but without the same submissiveness that prevailed during the communist era. He has been the moving force behind Russia’s political transition of the last 10 years, supporter of a reborn pride in Russia as a Christian Orthodox world power, standing between the Protestant-Catholic West, increasingly decadent and secularised, and the emerging East, torn by its many religious fanaticisms.

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UN reveals extent of world hunger

A child dies of malnutrition or starvation every six seconds

THE spiritual discipline of fasting during the current period of Lent should remind Christians to pray for the hungry and poor and offer them practical help.

The World Food Programme and the Office of the United Nations Secretary-General in New York have released statistics that reveal the wide extent of world hunger.

They revealed that in 2008, the number of undernourished people in the world rose to 963 million, up 40 million from 2007. The figure of 963 million is more than the combined populations of the United States, Canada and the European Union.

Today, 25,000 people will die from hunger. A child dies every six seconds of malnutrition or starvation.

The majority of undernourished people live in developing countries, with almost 65 per cent of them living in India, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Ethiopia.

Hunger and malnutrition are the biggest risk to health worldwide, greater than Aids, malaria and tuberculosis combined.

There is, however, a silver lining. The two offices said that there is enough food in the world today for everyone.

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