We could debate whether a worldly church is less of a menace than one run by true believers (quite often, I reckon), but it can certainly make for some good stories:

MOSCOW — Facing a scandal over photographs of its leader wearing an enormously expensive watch, the Russian Orthodox Church worked a little miracle: It made the offending timepiece disappear.

Editors doctored a photograph on the church’s Web site of the leader, Patriarch Kirill I, extending a black sleeve where there once appeared to be a Breguet timepiece worth at least $30,000. The church might have gotten away with the ruse if it had not failed to also erase the watch’s reflection, which appeared in the photo on the highly glossed table where the patriarch was seated.

The church apologized for the deception on Thursday and restored the original photo to the site, but not before Patriarch Kirill weighed in, insisting in an interview with a Russian journalist that he had never worn the watch, and that any photos showing him wearing it must have been doctored to put the watch on his wrist.

The controversy, which erupted Wednesday when attentive Russian bloggers discovered the airbrushing, further stoked anger over the church’s often lavish displays of wealth and power.

…It is not likely that the apology will end the debate about the watch or dampen the increasingly barbed discussions of the church’s role in Russian society. Over the past decade, the church has grown immensely powerful, becoming so close to the Kremlin that it often seems like a branch of government. It has extended its influence into a broad range of public life, including schools, courts and politics. Patriarch Kirill publicly backed Vladimir V. Putin in last month’s presidential election.

Recently, church officials stoked the ire of Russian liberals by seeking the imprisonment of members of a female punk rock group who held an impromptu concert inside Moscow’s main cathedral in February to protest the church’s political ties. Three members of the group are now in jail awaiting trial…The watch, on the other hand, has been an object of fascination for years, and there is little question of its existence. It was first sighted on the patriarch’s wrist in 2009 during a visit to Ukraine, where he gave a televised interview on the importance of asceticism…


[T]he patriarch has presented himself as the country’s ethical compass, and has recently embarked on a vocal campaign of public morality, advocating Christian education in public schools and opposing abortion and equal rights for gay people.

Ah well.

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5 Responses to Timeless

  1. cynthia curran says:

    Well, the orthodox church here in the us small but their higher ups tend to be friends with the democratic party. One call Obama another Alexander. Anyway, Connie Rice stated that the overthrow of Putin could mean the communists or the nationists might come to power. The Russian Orthodox church has that old Byzantine flavor.

  2. hanmeng says:

    And I thought the Buddhist nun I saw wearing a Rolex was out of line. But then, she was only a nun.

  3. cynthia curran says:

    In the States there are evangelicals that want the older form of christianity and convert to the Orthodox church. Frank Scaeffer the son of Francis Scaeffer, a liberal Eastern Orthodox, I mean supports gay married, is used by the eastern orthodox against Protestantism and Catholicism since Frank dislikes the religous right of both Protestantism and Catholicsim. Orthodox usually social conservative but are pretty liberal politcally, a good size welfare state and enviromental causes, and anti-war, Greece or Russia has not supported a war the US has been involved since World War II, and Orthodox children and grandchildren of immirgants usually take the ancestorial country’s view on foreign policy.

  4. cynthia curran says:

    Well, came across a free market thinker that writes about Greece. Anyway, he also wrote about the Serbian Conflict and there were some volunteers from Greece that were blessed by the Orthodox Church and when the Documentary was shown in Greece it was edited out. The Orthodox Church probably prevented this. His name is Takis Michas.

  5. Larry, San Francisco says:

    Isn’t changing photos in the time-honored traditions of Russia. Didn’t Stalin erase his lackeys from his photos after he had purged them.

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