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MOSCOW, April 9 (Itar-Tass) — On April 8, when Pussy Willow Sunday (Palm Sunday) was celebrated by Russian Orthodox believers, the Orthodox churches began to make public an appeal of the Supreme Church Council (SCC) of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), in which critics of the church are called enemies of the faith and supporters of the “anti-Russian forces.” And the “aggressive liberalism” is to blame for the anti-clerical campaigns. Patriarch of Moscow and All-Russia Kirill has again denounced the action of the Pussy Riot group.
The appeal of the ROC Supreme Church Council (VTSS) calls critics of the Church enemies of the faith and supporters of the “anti-Russian forces,” Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. Anti-clerical groups, in the view of SCC members, stage campaigns against the Church and discredit the clerics and hierarchs: “Archpastors and the priesthood are in the focus of attention of discontented” who act in such a way as to create a “dirty flow of information.” The document also cites cases of “vandalism” and “desecration of churches.” The SCC called on “all the hierarchs, clergy and laypersons” to be in prayer on April 22 “in defence of the faith, desecrated shrines, the Church and its good name.” Head of the patriarchal press service Archpriest Vladimir Vigilyansky told the publication that during the Holy Week this appeal “will be read out by all means.”
On Sunday, Patriarch Kirill, demonstrating shrines of the Christ the Saviour Cathedral, again condemned the action of Pussy Riot, the publication reports. “We know that not so long ago, an act of sacrilege, spiritual wickedness was staged before these shrines of the world Christianity,” the Patriarch said. “Blasphemy of this scale cannot be ignored,” said the ROC head.
On the same day, an unknown man stripped to his underpants and tried to climb the ambo at the Epiphany (Yelokhovsky) Cathedral that until 1991 was the ROC chair. The offender was reportedly detained by police.
Member of the Scientific Council of the Carnegie Moscow Centre Alexei Malashenko, quoted by Nezavisimaya Gazeta, believes that the ROC has made several wrong moves during the recent events and therefore “is trying to shift the blame on the opposition.” “In the view of the Church, aggressive liberalism - are opponents of Putin, people who area against a strong state and Western-minded people with bad liberal values,” Malashenko said. “I don’t know whether people will be brought there by buses,” Malashenko said referring to the April 22 prayer service. “I don’t rule out that the task to make the prayer service massive will be fulfilled.” “The main thing is to show that the ROC is the people’s church, and the liberals are anti-popular.”
Dissident priest Gleb Yakunin told the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper that in his opinion, “The SCC paper says that the Patriarch is in a very difficult situation and is close to panic. It has already been announced that Putin will not come to Kirill to the Christ the Saviour Cathedral for Easter service. He will go to abbot Ephraim, who is currently in a monastery under house arrest, to thank him for the Blessed Virgin Mary belt. The Patriarch is offended by the silence of the church primates after the girls’ escapade in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, which was directed against Putin and against him personally. Several hundred bishops did not want to interfere, did not share his anger. And, ordering the prayer services in each cathedral, the Patriarch seeks to show the fact that all the bishops formally support him. Kirill has a very difficult moment in his life: he has put in an awkward spot both Putin and the bishops. There is nothing else left for him to do but continue to try to prove to everybody that there is indeed a kind of conspiracy against the ROC. Witch hunting ...”