Monday, February 2, 2009

Russian leaders attend installation of Orthodox patriarch

I'm not even going to comment on the hat-

The Russian Orthodox Church enthroned the 16th patriarch, the first to be elected since the fall of the Soviet Union, in an elaborate ceremony on Sunday attended by hundreds of hierarchs and Russia's top political leaders.

The patriarch, Kirill I, was elected Tuesday by a council of bishops, other members of the clergy, monks and lay people of the Russian Orthodox Church to succeed Aleksy II, who had led the church out of the Soviet era and died in Moscow on Dec. 5.

In evidence of the changing relationship between church and state, President Dmitri Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attended the service, standing prominently near the front of Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, a church that was blown up on Stalin's orders in 1931 and lavishly rebuilt after the fall of the Soviet Union.

In a short address at the end of the service, Medvedev said that the enthronement of a new patriarch offered "new conditions for a full-fledged dialogue" between the church and the state.

He also said that Russia's diversity placed extra responsibility on the patriarch. "Russia is a complicated state, inhabited by many different peoples, by followers of different faiths, and in this sense also the mission of the patriarch of Moscow and All Russia is extremely notable," he said, without elaborating.

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