Bless weapons of mass destruction: a Russian Orthodox tradition that needs change?


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The commission of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church developed a project that proposes to exclude from the pastoral practice the rite of blessing weapons of mass destruction. Where does this tradition come from and why do priests want to eradicate it?

At least since the twelfth century, the Russian Orthodox Church has blessed the swords of young warriors as a symbol of their willingness to participate in the defense of their lands. This tradition is maintained in the present days, but the weapons that are blessed are no longer swords, but much more powerful ones, including those of mass destruction.

The new project, published on February 3 on the website of the Russian Orthodox Church, calls to exclude this rite from pastoral practice.

The blessing of any weapon whose use may cause the death of an undetermined number of people, “including weapons of indiscriminate effects and mass destruction,” does not reflect the tradition of the Orthodox Church and “does not correspond to the content of the own blessing of military weapons, “says the document.

However, the authors of the text consider it appropriate to bless the means of transport used by the military on land, in the water or in the air, since what is sought is not a blessing of the cannons, missiles or bombs, but a Warrior protection.

The priest Pavel Ostrovski, prior of the Cathedral of Jorge de Cappadocia in Najábino, Moscow region, pointed out that people sometimes mistakenly think that what is blessed is a weapon or a vehicle, but in reality, it is about the protection of path.

The cleric noted in statements to Sputnik that “war is a great evil.”

“The Church blessed the people to defend their homeland, not to attack anyone, but only to defend,” he said.

However, Pável Ostrovski pointed out that the Orthodox Church has always believed that despite a person defending his homeland, performing a feat and fulfilling his duty, he continues to violate the command not to kill.

“Therefore, people who returned from the war after having committed murders had to repent and confess,” he told the agency.

The draft document to end the blessing of weapons of mass destruction is sent to the dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church to express their views on the matter. The debate is open to all who wish to participate. The collection of opinions will last until June 1 of this year.


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