By Pietro Gennarini

The European Bishops expressed their worry to the Moscow Patriarcate for the series of act of religious hate aimed at Orthodox Churches in the Russian federation over the last year. The Presidency of the Council of the European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) addressed a letter to Metropolitan Hilarion, Head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate and expressed his “grave concern with regard to the numerous and increasing manifestations of discrimination against Christians in different countries, and of anti-Christian and anti-church sentiments which have been increasing especially in the Russian Federation in recent months”.

In this last year, the acts of religious vandalism have increased, aiming Churches and sacred symbols in the Russian federation. Crosses have been destroyed while earlier this year, a local punk rock band put on an act of political protest inside the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow using obscene language, improper attire and explicitly insulting Patriarch Kirill I of Moscow. A last act of vandalism was done to the Cathedral of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in Geneva, a Russian Orthodox Church smudging areas of the Church in red and purple paint.

In the letter, the European Bishops rejected “the tendency to misunderstand freedom of art and freedom of expression when there is in fact instigation or instrumentalization of religion for provocative purposes in order to damage religious peace or to incite hatred against religious presence in public life”.