(RIA Novosti) - Thousands of priests are expected to arrive in Moscow on Sunday for a nationwide prayer in defense of the faith and desecrated sacred objects, Russian Orthodox Church spokesman Vladimir Legoida said.
Legoida, who heads the Moscow Patriarchate's Synodal Information Department, said the Church has been discussing ways to better organize the mass arrival with the Russian capital’s authorities, according to the Ekho Moskvy radio.
After a liturgy in downtown Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral, bishops and priests led by Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, will pray in front of sacred objects outside of the cathedral, including ones that were recently desecrated by vandals: a cross from a church in the southern Stavropol Territory and an icon from the northwest Vologda Region, which were damaged by a knife and an ax accordingly.
The prayer will start at 1400 Moscow Time (1000 GMT). Everyone will be able to attend the event that will also be shown on wide screens mounted in front of the church.
Separate prayers will be 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, chanted a song entitled “Holy Sh*t” against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that also contained words insulting to Patriarch Kirill.
Priests and believers will also pray 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. Top Church officials have been criticized by bloggers and opposition media for their “lavish” lifestyles.