9 May 2007 | 07-0358 |
Moscow's Victory Day underscores church-military relationship
Moscow (ENI). Church bells rang across Russia on
9 May as Russians marked the 62nd anniversary of
their victory over Nazi Germany in the Second
World War. Victory Day is marked with special
prayers in Russian Orthodox churches, and other
ceremonies in recent days also underscored the
church's participation in this day revered by most Russians.
"Among our people, reverence for fallen soldiers
has always been present, and their sacrificial
act of bravery was honoured as a heroism in the
name of saving the Fatherland," said Patriarch
Alexei II when he laid a wreath the previous day
at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the foot of the Kremlin wall.
In comments reported on the www.sedmitza.ru Web
site, which is affiliated with the Moscow
Patriarchate, Alexei also condemned a decision by
the Estonian government to relocate a Soviet war
memorial away from the capital, Tallinn.
"I think revising history is the most ignoble
deed," he said. "That which began in Estonia and
continued in Poland is an insult to the
sentiments of thanks and eternal memory worthy of
those soldiers who gave their lives defending the
peoples of Europe from fascism."
In the post-Soviet era, the Russian Orthodox
Church and the Russian military have developed a
close relationship that is promoted as a means of
encouraging patriotism and discouraging the
bullying of recruits that plagues the armed forces.
The commander of Russia's nuclear-armed Strategic
Rocket Forces, Colonel General Nikolai Solovtsov,
has said cooperation with the Russian Orthodox
Church and other religions "will serve towards
the further enrichment of the spiritual and moral life of military servicemen".
Writing in Foma, a popular Russian Orthodox
magazine whose May edition is devoted to
military-related subjects, Solovtsov noted that
15 Orthodox churches and chapels have been built
in recent years to serve military towns.
"The centuries-old history of Russia and its
armed defence confirm the fact that without a
high level of spirituality and respect for our
history and traditions, that is without a
unifying idea, there cannot be a strong army
capable of defending the Fatherland and the
interests of its people," wrote Solovtsov.
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