His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia (secular name Vladimir M. Gundyaev) was born on November 20, 1946, in Leningrad. His father, Rev. Mikhail V. Gundyaev, died in 1974. His mother, Raisa V. Gundyaeva, a teacher of German, died in 1984. His elder brother, Archpriest Nikolay Gundyaev, is a professor at St. Petersburg Theological Academy and rector of the Holy Transfiguration Cathedral in St. Petersburg. His grandfather, Rev. Vasily S. Gundyaev, a Solovki prisoner, was imprisoned and exiled in the 20s, 30s and 40s for his church activity and struggle against Renovationism.
After finishing the secondary school eighth grade, Vladimir Gundyaev got a job in the Leningrad Geological Expedition and worked for it from 1962 to 1965 as cartographer, combining work with studies at secondary school.
After graduation from school, he entered the Leningrad Seminary and later the Leningrad Theological Academy, from which he graduated cum laude in 1970.
On April 3, 1969, Metropolitan Nikodim (Rotov) of Leningrad and Novgorod tonsured him with the name of Kirill and on April 7 ordained him as hierodeacon and on June 1 as hieromonk.
From 1970 to 1971 Father Kirill taught Dogmatic Theology and acted as rector’s assistant for students’ affairs at the Leningrad Theological Schools and at the same time worked as personal secretary to Metropolitan Nikodim and supervising instructor of the first-grade seminarians.
He was elevated to the rank of archimandrite on September 12, 1971.
From 1971 to 1974, he was Moscow Patriarchate representative at the World Council of Churches in Geneva.
From December 26, 1974, to December 26, 1984, he was rector of the Leningrad Seminary and Theological Academy.
On March 14, 1976, Archimandrite Kirill was consecrated Bishop of Vyborg, Vicar of the Leningrad diocese. On September 2, 1977, he was elevated to the rank of archbishop.
From December 26, 1984, he was Archbishop of Smolensk and Vyazma.
From 1986 – administrator of the parishes in the Kaliningrad Region.
From 1988 he became Archbishop of Smolensk and Kaliningrad.
On November 13, 1989, he was appointed chairman of the department for external church relations and permanent member of the Holy Synod.
On February 25, 1991, Archbishop Kirill was elevated to the rank of metropolitan.
On January 27, 2009, the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church elected him Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.
His Holiness Patriarch Kirill was enthroned on February 1, 2009.
The Supreme Authority of the Church charged His Eminence Kirill with the following functions:
from 1975 to 1982 – chairman of the Leningrad Diocesan Council;
from 1975 to 1998 – member of the Central and Executive Committees of the World Council of Churches;
from 1976 to 1978 – deputy Patriarchal Exarch for Western Europe;
from 1976 to 1984 – member of the Holy Synod commission for Christian unity;
from 1978 to 1984 – administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in Finland;
from 1978 to 1988 – member of the Millennium of the Baptism of Russia preparatory commission;
in 1990 – member of the preparatory commission for the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church;
in 1990 – member of the commission for assistance in overcoming the consequences of the Chernobyl accident;
from 1989 to 1996 – administrator of the Hungarian Orthodox deanery;
from 1990 to 1991 – temporary administrator of the diocese of the Hague and Netherlands;
from 1990 to 1993 – temporary administrator of the diocese of Korsun;
from 1990 to 1993 – chairman of the Holy Synod commission for reviving religious and moral
education and charity;
from 1990 to 2000 – chairman of the Holy Synod commission for amendments to the Statute of the
Russian Orthodox Church. The Statute was adopted by the Jubilee Bishops’ Council in 2000;
from 1994 to 2002 – member of the public board for restoration of the Church of Christ the Saviour;
from 1994 to 1996 – member of Russian Foreign Ministry council for foreign policy;
from 1995 to 2000 – chairman of the Synodal working group for elaborating a Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church on church-state relations and problems of modern society as a whole;
from 1995 to 1999 – member of the Russian organizing committee for events commemorating the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War;
from 1996 to 2000 – member of the supervisory board of the 50th Anniversary of the Victory foundation;
from 2006 to 2008 – leader of the working group for elaborating a Basic Teaching of the Russian Orthodox Church on Human Dignity, Freedom and Rights;
since 2008 – chairman of the Economy and Ethics experts council under the department for external church relations (now the Economy and Ethics experts council under the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia).
By the time of Metropolitan Kirill’s election to the Patriarchal see, he had been:
Permanent member of the Holy Synod, since 1989;
Chairman of the department for external relations, since 1989;
Administrator of the Patriarchal parishes in Finland, since 1990;
Member of the Synodal theological commission, since February 1994;
Member of the Patriarchal and Synodal Bible commission, since 1990;
Cochairman (since 1993) and deputy head (since 1995) of the World Russian People’s Council and chairman of the Smolensk and Kaliningrad branches of the WRPC (since 1997);
Member of the Provincial Movement council, since 1993;
Member of the Russian Palestinian Society;
Anchorman of the World of a Pastor TV program on the national First Channel, since 1994;
Honorary President of the Religion and Peace World Conference, since 1994;
Member of the Presidential council for cooperation with religious organizations, since 1995;
Member of the Presidential commission for state prizes in literature and art, since 1995;
Honorary member of the Moscow Intellectuals and Businessmen Club, since 1995;
Cochairman of the Christian Inter-confessional Advisory Committee since 1996;
Member of the Interreligious Council in Russia presidium, since 1998;
Editor-in-chief of Tserkov i vremya magazine since 1991, Smolenskie eparhialnye vedomosti since 1993 andPravoslavny palomnik since 2001;
Member of the supervisory board of the Church of Christ the Saviour, since 2002;
Cochair of the Council of European Religious Leaders, since 2002;
Chairman of the organizing committee for the Orthodox Russia exhibition, since 2003;
Cochair of the working group for cooperation between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Foreign Ministry, since 2003;
Chairman of the CIS Interreligious Council executive committee, since 2004
Member of the CIS Interreligious Council presidium, since 2004;
Chairman for the commission for Old-Believers’ parishes and cooperation with the Old-Belief community, since 2005;
Chairman of the working group for drafting a conceptual document stating the position of the Russian Orthodox Church on interreligious relations, since 2005;
Chairman of the working group for drafting a document stating the position of the Russian Orthodox Church on globalization, since 2005;
Member of the Joint Commission for nationalities policy and relations between the state and religious organizations, since 2006;
Cochair of the World Conference of Religions for Peace, since 2006;
Patriarchal Locum Tenens, since December 6, 2008.
His Holiness Patriarch Kirill holds the degree of Candidate of Theology from the Leningrad Theological Academy (1970) and the degree of Doctor of Theology honoris cause from the Theological Academy in Budapest (1987).
From 1974 to 1984 he was associate professor of Patrology at the Leningrad Theological Academy; since 1986 he is an honorary member of St. Petersburg Theological Academy; since 1992 he is member of the Academy of Creativity; since 1994 an honorary member of the Eurasia International Academy, since 1996 a honorary professor at the military Academy (now University) of the Land Forces’ Anti-missile Defense; since 1997 a full member of the Academy of Russian Language and Literature; since 2002 a full member of the Academy of Social and Humanitarian Sciences; since 2003 a member of the Russian Public Academy of Social Sciences; since 2002 Doctor of Political Sciences honoris cause from the State University of Perugia, Italy; since 2004 an honorary professor of the Smolensk Humanitarian University; since 2005 an honorary professor of the Astrakhan University; since 2005 a Doctor honoris cause from the Russian National Social University; since 2006 an honorary professor of the Ushakov Baltic Naval Institute; since 2007 an honorary president of the Academy of Russian Literature and Language; since 2007 a Doctorhonoris cause from the St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University.
Patriarch Kirill is the author of the following books in Russian: ‘Formation and Development of Church Hierarchy and the Teaching of the Orthodox Church on Its Grace-giving Nature’ (Leningrad 1971), ‘Challenges to the Modern Civilizations. The Orthodox Church’s Response’ (Moscow 2002), ‘The Word of a Pastor. God and Man. History of Salvation’ (Moscow 2004), ‘L’Evangile et la liberte. Les valeurs de la Tradition dans la societe laique’ (Paris, 2006); ‘Freedom and Responsibility: In Search of Harmony’ (Moscow 2008), and others; as well as over 700 publications in Russian and foreign periodicals. The Word of a Pastor TV series has been published including talks on ‘An introduction to Orthodox doctrine’, ‘Word-Sacrament-Church’, ‘History of the early Christian Church and the teaching on the Church’, ‘Jubilee Bishops’ Council’, ‘Basic Social Concept’, ‘Statute of the Russian Orthodox Church’, ‘Actions on canonization’, ‘Attitude to non-Orthodoxy’, ‘Church, state, politics’, ‘Church, individual, society’, ‘Faith and salvation’. A series of Lenten sermons have come out in audio-format.
Metropolitan Kirill was invited to give lectures in Rome (1972), Helsinki University, Abo Academy in Turku, Orthodox Seminary in Kuopio, Finland (1975), Ecumenical Institute in Bossey, Switzerland (1972, 1973), University of Muenster, Germany (1988), University of Udine, Italy (1988), State University of Perugia, Italy (2002), Christian Academy in Warsaw, Poland (2004).
His Holiness Kirill was the first representative of the Russian Orthodox Church in SYNDESMOS, the World Fellowship of Orthodox Youth. From 1971 to 1977 he was member of the SYNDESMOS executive committee and delegate to its 8th (Boston 1971), 9th (Geneva 1977), 10th (Finland 1980), and 14th (Moscow 1992) general assemblies. He also participated in the first Pre-Council Pan-Orthodox Conference (Chambesy 1976) and was member of the inter-Orthodox commission for preparation of a Holy and Great Council of the Eastern Orthodox Church (Chambesy 1993, 1999). He was the key speaker at the Orthodox consultation on ‘The Common Understanding and Vision of the WCC’ (Chambesy 1995). He was also a participant in the Pan-Orthodox Consultation on the Issues of Ecumenism (Salonika 1998), the meeting of heads of the Local Orthodox Churches for healing the Bulgarian church schism (Sofia 1998), Pan-Orthodox celebrations on the occasion of the 2000th anniversary of Christianity in Bethlehem (January 7, 2000), negotiations between the Patriarchate of Moscow and Constantinople (Istanbul 1977, Geneva 1978, Istanbul 1990, Moscow 1991, Istanbul 1993) and regular consultations on current problems between the two Churches. He conducted negotiations with the Orthodox Church of Constantinople concerning Estonia and with the Romanian Orthodox Churches concerning the problem of Metropolia of Bessarabia in Moldova (twice in 1997 in Geneva and in 1999 in Kishinev).
In 2005 Metropolitan Kirill led a delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church to the enthronement of Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem.
As a member of official delegations he visited all the Local Orthodox Churches and accompanied Patriarch Pimen and Patriarch Alexy II on their trips abroad.
He took part in the work of inter-Christian organizations. As delegate he participated in the 4th (Uppsala, Sweden 1968), 5th (Nairobi, Kenya 1975), 6th (Vancouver, Canada 1983) and 7th (Canberra, Australia 1991) General Assemblies of the World Council of Churches; and in the World Missionary Conference ‘Salvation Today’ (Bangkok 1973). He was President of the World Conference ‘Faith, Science and the Future’ (Boston 1979) and took part in the World Convocation ‘Peace, Justice and Integrity of the Creation’ (Seoul 1979), the assemblies of the WCC Faith and Order Commission in Accra (Ghana 1974), Lima (Peru 1982) and Budapest (Hungary 1989).
Commissioned by the Supreme Authority of the Russian Orthodox Church, he took part in maintaining relations with Churches in the USA , Japan, Germany, Finland, Italy, Switzerland, Great Britain, Belgium, Holland, France, Spain, Norway, Iceland, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Ethiopia, Australia, New Zealand, India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Laos, Jamaica, Canada, Congo, Zaire, Argentine, Chile, China, South Africa and Greece.
His Holiness was a member of the Local Jubilee Council of the Russian Orthodox Church (June 1988 in Zagorsk), chairman of its drafting committee and author of the draft Statute of the Russian Orthodox Church adopted by that Council. He also participated in the Bishops’ Council devoted to the 400th anniversary of the restoration of the patriarchal office (October 1989) and the extraordinary Bishops’ Council on January 30-31, 1990, as well as the Local Councils in June 1990, Bishops’ Councils in October 1991, March-April 1992, June 1992, November-December 1994, February 1997, August 2000, October 2004, and June 2008.
His Holiness Kirill represented the Russian Orthodox Church in the commission for drafting the 1990 Law on Freedom of Religions and the 1997 Federal Law on Freedom of Conscience and on Religion Associations. He also took part in developing the Church’s position and peacemaking actions during the events of August 1991 and October 1993.
He was also the initiator of the World Russian People’s Council in 1993.
As chairman of the Holy Synod commission for reviving religious and moral education and charity he initiated the establishment of Synodal departments for religious education, social service and charity and for cooperation with the Army and law-enforcement agencies. He is the author of the concept for reviving charity and religious education, which was adopted by the Holy Synod on January 30, 1991. He also developed and presented to the Holy Synod the Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Cooperation with the Armed Forces’ in 1994.
From 1994 to 2000, His Holiness directed the drafting of the Basic Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church and its presentation to the Jubilee Bishops’ Council in 2000.
He took an active part in normalizing the church situation in Estonia. In doing so, he visited the Patriarchates of Antioch and Jerusalem during his trip to Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Israel in 1996 and participated in negotiations with the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Zurich, Switzerland, in March and twice in April 1996, in Thessaloniki, Tallinn and Athens in 1996, in Odessa in 1997, in Geneva in 1996, in Moscow, Geneva and Zurich in 2000, in Vienna, Berlin and Zurich in 2001, and in Moscow and Istanbul in 2003. He also made repeated visits to Estonia to conduct negotiations with government officials, parliament members, and the business community in that country.
His Holiness Kirill was actively involved in peacemaking actions for Yugoslavia. He repeatedly came to Belgrade to hold negotiations with the country’s leaders and initiated the establishment of an non-official international Christian peace group for Yugoslavia (Vienna, May 1999) and the convocation of an international inter-Christian conference to consider the theme ‘Europe after the Kosovo Crisis: Further Actions by Churches’ in November 1999, in Oslo, Norway.
Patriarch Kirill was decorated by the Churches of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Georgia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Poland, the Czech Lands and Slovakia, America and Finland.
He was also awarded the Russian Orthodox Church Orders of St. Vladimir Equal-to-the-Apostles, St. Alexis the Metropolitan of Moscow, St. Daniel of Moscow, St. Sergius of Radonezh, and St. Innocent the Metropolitan of Moscow.
He is also a holder of state decorations including the Order of the Friendship of Nations (1988), the Order of Friendship (1996), the Order for Services for the Motherland, 3d class (2000) and the Order for Service for the Motherland, 2nd class (2006).