Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, has tested positive for COVID-19, the Church's press service said on Friday.
30th September 2022.
The Church said Kirill, 75-years-old had cancelled all his planned trips and events as he was suffering "severe symptoms" requiring bed rest and isolation.
It said his condition was "satisfactory".
Under Kirill, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and supporter of the war in Ukraine, the Russian Orthodox Church has become a powerful political player, championing Russia's turn towards conservative social values.
Pope Francis has previously cautioned Kirill against serving as "Putin's altar boy" because of his support of the invasion in Ukraine.
The Pontiff was quoted saying: 'We (the Pope and Kirill) are pastors of the same people of God.
"That is why we have to seek paths of peace, to cease the fire of weapons. The patriarch cannot become Putin's altar boy,"
Kirill sees the war as a bulwark against a decadent West - particularly over the acceptance of homosexuality - that threatens his vision of a 'Russky Mir' ('Russian World') that includes Belarus and Ukraine.
Pope Francis told Italy's Corriere Della Sera newspaper that he had communicated to Moscow via Vatican diplomats that he sought a meeting with Putin three weeks into the conflict, but did not receive a response.