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Church News

Orthodox Church calls priests to stop blessing nuclear weapons

Russian priests should stop blessing nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction that can inflict indiscriminate loss of life, according to new guidelines being discussed by the Russian Orthodox Church.

During two decades in power, President Vladimir Putin has aligned himself with the Orthodox Church, which has also developed closer ties with the Defence Ministry.

Russian priests have appeared in numerous images sprinkling holy water on submarines, ballistic missiles, space rockets and other pieces of hardware as part of rituals to bless them.

But some of that is set to stop if the Church approves a document drawn up by an Orthodox Church commission.

"The blessing of military weapons is not reflected in the tradition of the Orthodox Church and does not correspond to the content of the Rite," the document, on the Moscow patriarchate's website said.

Blessing or sanctifying weapons that can kill an "indefinite number of people" must be excluded from pastoral practice, the documents states.

The proposals will be discussed until 1st June and the public will be able to take part in the debate, the Church's Moscow branch said.

In a striking symbol of close defence-church ties in Russia, the armed forces are building their own sprawling cathedral at a military themed park outside Moscow. It is set to be one of the tallest Orthodox churches in the world.

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