Prayers and Protests during Orthodox Easter

National Catholic Reporter, May 13, 2005 | Go to article overview

Prayers and Protests during Orthodox Easter


MOSCOW -- Russia celebrated Orthodox Easter amid religious ceremonies and antigovernment protests.

On the night of April 30, some 5,000 faithful attended the Easter vigil in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The service was celebrated by Aleksij II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov were present.

A delegation of the St. Andrew Foundation, an organization in charge of relations with the Orthodox church outside Russia, brought a sacred flame from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem to use in lighting candles during the service. An hour before the midnight Mass, it had landed at Moscow's Vnukovo-1 International Airport.

In his Easter message, Aleksij II wished "health and happiness" to Orthodox Christians. "Let the joy of the Easter holiday touch every heart. Let this joy give you strength and courage to withstand all hardships and troubles," he said.

Before the service, he met political leaders, including Putin, and expressed the hope that "the joy of the Lord's Resurrection will guide you in the task of serving our people."

Putin made a televised address wishing Orthodox believers and all Russian citizens "happiness, peace and prosperity. …

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