MOSCOW (RNS/ENInews) — The Russian Orthodox Church is praying for relief from the heat and drought that has gripped Russia for two months, as one archbishop condemned some retailers for profiteering from the extreme weather conditions.
“That air conditioners sell for 50,000 rubles ($1,650) instead of 10,000, when people are dying of the heat is immoral and cruel,” said Archbishop Feofan of Stavropol and Vladikavkaz.
“Sell them at the old price at least. This is God’s command, and compassion for one’s neighbor.”
In a pastoral letter released on Aug. 1, Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church had called for continuous prayers and special churchwide collections.
Monks at the Svyato-Nikolo-Tikhonovsky Monastery urged that water be blessed in churches and used on the fires, the Interfax news agency reported.
“The blessed water, together with the help of aviation and other means … must be sprinkled over burning forests and villages,” the monks appealed.
In Voronezh, a region hit by some of the worst forest fires that have swept across Russia, Metropolitan Sergius held a prayer service on Aug. 9 to beg God for rain before devotees of St. Mitrofan started a five-day procession around the region by car with the saint’s relics.
Monks at one of the most important monasteries in Orthodoxy, the Kiev Monastery of the Caves in Ukraine, which has suffered from temperatures near 104 degrees, are also praying for rain, the press service of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate reports.
The Russian Orthodox Church has raised more than $200,000 for victims of the fires and draught, the Moscow Patriarchate’s website said.
Smog generated by the fires enveloped Moscow for more than a week, exacerbating the impact of the heat wave that has suffocated the Russian capital since June.
Priests at Moscow churches without air conditioning said that despite the heat and smoke the number of worshippers had not declined beyond the usual summer drop-off.
“People are not complaining,” the Rev. Sergei Rybko told Interfax. “When you serve, and pray, you don’t especially notice this smoke and heat. It should be noted that donations have risen significantly in the days since … the patriarch announced a collection for the victims of the fire.”
— Sophia Kishkovsky
© 2010 Religion News Service. Used with permission.
Posted Aug. 13, 2010