Patriarch Pushes for New Churches in Moscow
ORTHODOX CONSTRUCTION ENTERED INTO SCHEDULE
Moscow mayor orders churches brought on line one per month
by Alexander Voronov, Pavel Korobov
Kommersant, 17 April 2013
Patriarch Kirill joined the conflict surrounding the program of the construction of 200 churches in Moscow yesterday. Earlier, Orthodox public organization had complained to City Hall of the capital about sabotage of the program by deputies of municipal assemblies. The patriarch declared that construction and the budget which may exceed one billion dollars are being opposed "by ideologically oriented flying squads." Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobianin ordered an acceleration of the program and bringing one church per month into use.
The patriarch spoke yesterday about the conflict surrounding the program of construction of 200 churches at a session of the board of trustees of the Foundation for Support of Construction of Churches. Reporting on the first two years of the program he said that "parish life is boiling" in the churches, but something is obstructing construction. At first the primate said that "rumors about special conflicts are more than exaggerated," but his subsequent speech testified to the contrary. Patriarch Kirill referred to "young ladies" who complain at public hearings that with the construction of churches "they will have no place to park their Porsche Cayennes," and especially to "ideologically oriented flying squads." As to the methods of operation of these squads the patriarch reported the following: "They said [to residentsKom.]: Have you agreed that coffins will be carried past your windows? or they said: You will have church bells ringing all the time." What these squads are and who is in them the primate of RPTs did not specify. Earlier Orthodox public figures told Kommersant that the most ardent opponents of construction are municipal deputies from Yabloko and CPRF.
We recall that in March 2013, fifteen Orthodox public organizations addressed a complaint to City Hall about sabotage of the program by deputies of municipal assemblies. In their turn, deputies stated that they are only defending the interests of voters. Earlier Patriarch Kirill had sent to City Hall in 2009 the idea of building 200 churches in Moscow. Moscow supported the initiative, adopting a corresponding program. Now 8 churches have been built and another 15 are under construction. Budgetary funds for construction have not been allocated but the authorities have connected churches to utilities at their own expense. In the estimate of the supervisor of the project, State Duma Deputy Vladimir Resin, construction of a single church complex costs about 150 to 170 million rubles. Thus, the estimated cost of the program exceeds 30 billion rubles.
The program of church construction had been criticized not only by municipal deputies but also by representatives of the government. The chief architect of the city, Sergei Kuznetsov, told Kommersant that houses of worship in the capital "should be generated naturally and not according to a plan of compulsory placement." He considers construction of identical churches "a step away from the ideology of harmonious urban development." Yesterday Patriarch Kirill enter the remote polemic, declaring that the churches will not be identical, "we are not talking about typical churches, as some people have spoken ironically," and the patriarchate does not intend to encumber the capital with "low-quality architecture." At the same time the patriarch advanced an idea that is clearly intended to solve problems with residents: plant trees and gardens in the church yards and build playgrounds in them and give all comers access to them.
Sergei Sobianin supported the "green" idea, ordering prefects to include construction sites for churches in plans for improvement of the territory. Then the mayor spoke more softly about conflicts over construction, stating that "the stalled conflict" is not about a single site and City Hall is always ready to find another site for a church in the event of objections.
Yesterday Mr. Resin made clear that implementation of the program may take 10 to 15 years. "I had thought that in a year we will build all these complexes. It did not work out," he said, explaining that "every fool can work with money, but without money, this requires skill to work." "Fifteen years, that is still scary," Patriarch Kirill responded, suggesting to reduce it to ten. But Mr. Sobianin inserted his own corrections, ordering to produce one church per month. At the same time the mayor noted that this way builders will be done in 8 years, although actually at such rates implementation of the program will take 16 years.
The director of the Association of Orthodox Experts, Kirill Frolov, was pleased with the session of the council's board of trustees: "We saw that the patriarch and mayor have listened to us and they have understood that the protests have been artificially exaggerated and that the people are, in their majority, in favor of churches." The president of the Federation of Jewish Organizations of Russia, Alexander Boroda, said that he does "not have feelings of envy" for the Orthodox, but that he would wish "that one synagogue per year would be built in Moscow." The vice-chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia, Rushan Abbiasov, would build "one mosque for each district of the capital" in all. (tr. by PDS, posted 17 April 2013)
Russian original posted on Interfax-Religiia site, 17 April 2013
Russia Religion News Current News Items