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Mass Prayers In Moscow In Defense Of Russian Orthodox Church

About 65,000 Orthodox Church believers thronged Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral on Sunday for a nationwide prayer in defense of the faith and desecrated sacred objects, Russia's state-run media reported quoting the Interior Ministry.

Orthodox Church head Patriarch Kirill led a liturgy in the Cathedral in downtown Moscow during which he urged believers to take part in the nationwide prayer outside the Cathedral "for our faith, our Church, our sacred objects and our motherland."

Kirill said he hoped the nationwide prayer would "multiply our spiritual strength" to fight faithlessness and desecration of sacred Church relics. Bishops and priests led by Kirill prayed together with believers in front of sacred objects outside the cathedral, including ones that were recently desecrated by vandals. Sacred Orthodox relics were specially brought to the Cathedral from different parts of Russia for the occasion.

Among them was a 3.5-meter crucifix broken by an attacker in a cathedral in the Southern Russian city of Nevinnomyssk. There are also five of the 30 icons cut with an ax in the town of Veliky Ustyug last month. The Virgin Mary icon, shot with bullets in the early 1920s, was also brought from the same city. Separate prayers were also held in front of other Russian cathedrals.

Vandalism and church desecration cases have become more frequent in Russia after a female punk group performed what it called "a punk prayer" in February next to the Christ the Savior Cathedral's main altar, which is off-limits to all but priests. Five group members, clad in balaclavas, sang a song abusing Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Patriarch Kirill.

Priests and believers also prayed that those who desecrated sacred objects in a series of recent blasphemous actions across Russia change their ways, and for good reputation of the Church. The Church has been involved in a number of high-profile scandals recently with Church leaders coming under criticism for their "lavish" life styles.

The Church's Supreme Council said in a statement earlier this month that it had been targeted by "those pushing through radical liberal values" over its opposition to same-sex marriages and consumerism.

by RTT Staff Writer

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