The Russian Orthodox Patriarch has cautioned against the dangers of feminism, denouncing "propaganda" that encourages women to take roles beyond housekeeping and rearing children.

"I consider the phenomenon called feminism very dangerous," said the powerful Patriarch Kirill in a speech delivered Tuesday and posted Wednesday on the official Russian Orthodox Church website.

"Feminist organisations proclaim a pseudo-freedom of women, which should be manifested outside marriage and family."

But he argued: "The man should be focussed on matters outside (of the house), he must work and earn money, but the woman is always directed to the inside, towards her children and her home."

"If that very important function of the woman is broken, then this is followed by the breaking of everything else: family, and in a larger sense, the motherland."

The ultra-conservative Patriarch Kirill, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, makes no secret of his political preferences and has sternly criticised mass opposition protests.

Despite petitions by many believers, he also supported harsh punishment for the members of all-female group Pussy Riot, two of which were jailed for performing a "punk prayer" in Russia's main Cathedral of Christ the Savior to highlight his close ties with the state.

He is also a champion of the government's drive to restore so-called family values as the cornerstone of the campaign to reverse the decline in the Russian population.

"We know how false propaganda of false values really works," said Kirill.

"An opinion is forced down that the woman's mission to be a mother is degrading," he told an organisation of Ukrainian Orthodox women.

"It's not an accident that most feminist leaders are unmarried," he said, adding that there is nothing wrong with a woman having a career if she "correctly sets priorities" and "serves her duty as a wife and mother" as well as "bringing public good".

"Birth rates fall when values are shifted and broken, when satisfying one's personal needs, one's egoism becomes the priority," he said.