THE Patriarch of Moscow, Kirill I, has said that the Russian
Orthodox Church is under attack from "opponents" who fear its
In an interview with Russian state
television, the Patriarch criticised the destruction of wooden
crosses outside churches by protesters at the jail sentence imposed
on members of the band Pussy Riot (News, 31 August).
Three members of the band were
recently imprisoned for two years for the crime of hooliganism
motivated by religious hatred, after their performance of a "punk
prayer" at the altar of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, in
Moscow. Their song called on the Virgin Mary to "throw Putin out"
(News, Comment, 3
The Patriarch did not refer to the
three by name, but said that Russia was threatened by "blasphemy
and outrage". "Those who would invite us to mock our shrines,
reject our faith, and, if possible, destroy our churches", he said,
were "testing the people's ability to protect their holy
He rejected criticism of the closer
ties between the Church and the state, saying that it was "not a
merger but the Christianisation of society. . .
"That is what frightens our opponents.
It is fear in the face of the fact that Orthodoxy, which was
practically destroyed in Soviet times, has been able to return to
the life of the people - not as much as we would like, of course,
but maybe this whole uproar is being raised to stop us. I want to
say: we will not stop."