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Sunday, June 10, 2012

RUSSIAN CHURCH AND STATE REACH AN ACCORD



Russian church and state reach an accord
Access to returned churches guaranteed, as Putin gives historic icon to convent that was in a museum

By Sophia Kishkovsky. News, Issue 236, June 2012
Published online: 31 May 2012

The Russian culture ministry and the Russian Orthodox Church signed a co-operation agreement on 3 May that guarantees conservation experts and the public access to churches and monasteries that have been returned by the state to the Church. The agreement includes a commitment to train members of the clergy and laity to care for the monuments.

The same week, on the eve of his inauguration for a third term as Russian president, Vladimir Putin returned a revered image of the Virgin Mary, which had been in the State Historical Museum, to the Novodevichy Convent in Mos­cow. The 17th-century copy of the Iverskaya Icon of the Mother of God had been in the museum since it was confiscated after the Russian Revolution of 1917.

The convent’s abbess, Margarita, said on the Moscow Patriarchate’s website that returning the icon “was solely Vladimir Putin’s decision”. In 2010, as Russia’s prime minister, Putin returned the 16th-century convent to the Russian Orthodox Church.

Monuments now in church control that are listed as Unesco protected sites will receive special attention, according to the agreement between Church and state, which was signed by Aleksandr Avdeyev, the outgoing culture minister and Patriarch Kirill I, in a ceremony at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

Avdeyev said that co-operation between the ministry and the Church in preserving monuments is essential “for the development of culture, the development of spirituality, and the formation of citizens of our country as true patriots and real citizens of the future Russia”. Patriarch Kirill said that in receiving church buildings back for liturgical use, “the necessity of close co-operation of restoration specialists with church leaders” was recognised.


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