Thousands of people have gathered outside Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow in a day of prayer to defend the church against anti-Russian forces.
The Orthodox establishment has come under attack in recent times because of its cosy relationship with the state and president-elect Vladimir Putin:
“All of us people have sins, and saints are quite rare among us, but it doesn’t mean that an orgy should start now,” said one worshipper, she was backed up by another:
“We gathered here today to stand here and pray, to defend our religion from this encroachment on Orthodoxy, because some barbarians can abuse our icons and crosses.”
In late February girl punk band Pussy Riot burst into the cathedral and performed a “punk prayer.”
Three members of the band are still in jail with Patriarch Kirill calling for harsh treatment for the women:
“This blasphemy and sacrilege, the humiliation under sanctuary, has been supported by the view of a legal demonstration of human freedom.”
The Patriarch himself has come in for criticism for a lifestyle that some consider ostentatious and unbecoming of the head of the church.
Many in the church, both clergy and faithful, want the patriarch to show leniency toward the women.
The imprisoned girl band Pussy Riot are facing up to seven years in jail if charged with hooliganism.