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Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter

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  • Fr John Brian
    http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/World/2005/05/01/1021502-ap.html Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter By MIKE ECKEL MOSCOW (AP) - Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy
    Message 1 of 1 , May 2, 2005

      Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter


      MOSCOW (AP) - Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy wished health and happiness
      to millions of Orthodox Christians as believers on Sunday marked Easter, the
      holiest day in the Orthodox calendar.

      The Russian Orthodox Church, all but banned under the Soviet Union, has
      experienced a major resurgence since 1991, with an estimated two-thirds of
      Russia's 144 million people believed to be observant.

      "Let the joy of the Easter holiday touch every heart. Let this joy give you
      strength and courage to withstand all hardships and troubles," the patriarch
      said in his address, parts of which were broadcast on Russian television.

      Orthodox churches use a different calendar than the Roman Catholic and
      Protestant churches, which celebrated Easter on March 27.

      At the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, a massive church near the Kremlin
      that was destroyed by Stalin and rebuilt with a golden dome, thousands of
      believers gathered for midnight mass, including President Vladimir Putin and
      Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov.

      Earlier in the evening, organizers put on a first-ever laser show that
      painted the church's white exterior with images of icons and famous church

      In his Easter greetings, Putin said the country was undergoing a spiritual

      "On this festive spring day, I'd like to point to the growing positive
      influence of the Russian Orthodox Church and other traditional Christian
      confessions on moulding the spiritual and moral climate in Russian society,"
      the president said.

      In Ukraine, where the country's sizable Roman Catholic population marked
      Easter nearly a month ago, President Viktor Yushchenko sent Easter greetings
      to Orthodox believers, telling them Ukraine received divine help during last
      year's pro-democratic Orange Revolution that brought him to the presidency.

      "We see our future tied with the future of other European nations . . . I
      wish that this Easter marks the beginning of a new and better life for
      everyone," Yushchenko said.

      Almost 90 per cent of Ukrainians are members of the Orthodox church.

      Across Romania, a hostage crisis in Iraq involving three Romanian
      journalists and their translator overshadowed the holy day celebrations as
      tens of thousands of Orthodox Christians lit candles to mark Easter.

      From the Black Sea beaches in eastern Romania to the central city of Craiova
      and the flooded plains of western Romania, Orthodox priests and the faithful
      prayed for the release of the journalists and the interpreter kidnapped
      March 28.

      In Jerusalem, hundreds of pilgrims joined a handful of local Christians in
      celebrating Orthodox Easter in Christianity's holiest site, where tradition
      holds that Jesus rose after being crucified and buried.

      Worshippers celebrated peacefully despite plans by Palestinians to protest
      the participation of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, Irineos I, a central
      figure in a land dispute in Jerusalem's Old City.

      Pilgrims from Russia, Serbia, Greece and other countries kneeled to rub
      oils, crosses, religious pictures and other articles across a rectangular
      orange stone representing the place where the body of Jesus was prepared for
      burial, just inside the entrance of the ancient Church of the Holy
      Sepulcher, built over the traditional site of Calvary.

      In Turkey, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew spoke out against terrorism and
      killing in the name of religion as Orthodox faithful gathered early Sunday
      at the seat of the Greek Orthodox Church in Istanbul to celebrate Easter.

      Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians and a
      longtime advocate of harmony between different religions, led several
      thousand worshippers at a crowded midnight liturgy. Many were pilgrims from
      neighbouring Greece.
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