His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia - Exarchate of Africa
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His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia (secular name Vladimir Mikhailovich Gundyaev) was born on November 20, 1946, in Leningrad. 

His father, Mikhail Vasilyevich Gundyaev, a priest, died in 1974. His mother, Raisa Vladimirovna Gundyaeva, a schoolteacher of the German language, in her last years a housewife, died in 1984. His elder brother, Archpriest Nikolay Gundyaev, a professor at the St. Petersburg Theological Academy, the honorary rector of the Cathedral of the Holy Transfiguration in St. Petersburg, died on December 30, 2021. His grandfather, priest Vasiliy Stepanovich Gundyaev, was a Solovki prisoner, repeatedly imprisoned and exiled for his church work and active anti-Renovationism stand in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.

After finishing the secondary school 8th grade, from 1962 to 1965, Vladimir Gundyaev worked as a technical cartographer in the Leningrad Comprehensive Geological Expedition of the North-West Geological Administration, concurrently attending secondary school.

Having finished secondary school in 1965, he entered the Leningrad Theological Seminary and then the Leningrad Theological Academy from which he graduated cum laude in 1970 with the degree of Candidate of Theology.

On April 3, 1969, Metropolitan Nikodim (Rotov) of Leningrad and Novgorod tonsured him with the name of Kirill. On April 7, he was ordained as hierodeacon, and on June 1, as hieromonk.

From 1970 to 1971 he was a lecturer of Dogmatic Theology and assistant to the inspector of the Leningrad Theological Academy and Seminary. At the same time, he served as personal assistant to Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad and Novgorod and a form-master of the first-year seminarians.

On September 12, 1971, he was elevated to the rank of archimandrite. 

From 1971 to 1974, he was the Moscow Patriarchate representative to the World Council of Churches in Geneva. 

From 26 December 1974 to 26 December 1984, he served as rector of the Leningrad Theological Academy and Seminary. From 1974 to 1984, he was an associate professor of the Chair of Patrology at the Leningrad Theological Academy.

On March 14, 1976, he was consecrated Bishop of Vyborg. 

On September 2, 1977, he was elevated to the rank of archbishop. 

On December 26, 1984, he was appointed Archbishop of Smolensk and Vyazma. 

From 1986, he was administrator of the parishes in the Kaliningrad region.

In 1988, he was appointed Archbishop of Smolensk and Kaliningrad. 

From November 13, 1989, to 2009, he served as chairman of the Department for External Church Relations and was a permanent member of the Holy Synod. 

On February 25, 1991, he was elevated to the rank of metropolitan.

Serving in obedience to the Supreme Authority of the Church, His Eminence Kirill was:

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 of 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 1984 — vice-chairman of the Leningrad Office of the Department for External Church Relations;

from 1980 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 at the Jubilee Bishops’ Council in 2000;

from 1994 to 2002 — member of the Public Board for Restoration of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow;

from 1994 to 1996 — member of the Foreign Policy Council of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs;

from 1995 to 2000 — chairman of the Synodal Working Group for Elaborating the Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church on Church-State Relations and Problems of Today’s Society in General;

from 1995 to 1999 — member of the Russian organizing committee for the 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.

On January 27, 2009, the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church elected Metropolitan Kirill as Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. 

On February 1, 2009, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill was enthroned.