Patriarch Kirill believes World War II was punishment for sins of Russians

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia believes World War II was a redemptive sacrifice of Russian people for the sin of apostasy. "Some people wonder why the last war was so terrific and bloody, why so many people died!" the Patriarch has said after Wednesday Liturgy in the Moscow Sretensky Monastery.

Nikita Mikhalkov: Fostering Orthodox spiritual revival will gain Russia the world's leading position

Nikita Mikhalkov, a renowned Russian film director, believes that Russia's main challenge today is to develop spiritual immunity to withstand external influence and gain a leading position in the world.

"If this immunity is implanted, no influence can affect us, because poison penetrates only vulnerable souls and burns them to ashes. If souls are shielded with culture, religion, history, and tradition, they have nothing to be afraid of," Mikhalkov said in an address to the 13th World Russian People's Council opened Friday in Moscow.

Tom Hanks is happy to be a member of the Orthodox Church

Hollywood actor Tom Hanks appreciates his membership in the Orthodox Church and intends to raise his four children in similar vein.

"I am aware that it is vitally important to come to church and contemplate those substantial questions put by the Orthodoxy and the answers it offers," Hanks said in an interview published by Argumenty i Fakty.

Russian Church concerned about the probability of religious minorities' "dictatorship" in Europe

Archpriest Georgy Ryabykh, deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, urges European religious leaders to pursue protection of their believers' rights at the legislative level to offset the dominant influence of new religious movements.

"Sometimes, we can even witness the minorities' dictatorship. They demand more rights and benefits for themselves than the major religions have in the public sector in many European countries," Fr. Georgy said at a meeting of the European Council of Religious Leaders in Lille, France.

The Great Monastery in Captivity

A long-standing land dispute between the Syrian Orthodox community in south-east Turkey and the local villagers has finally turned into a legal battle attracting international attention. The disagreement has been closely monitored by the European Union for some time, and US President Barack Obama and the State Department are monitoring the dispute.

In a remote village near Midyat, South East Turkey, a land dispute with neighboring villages is threatening the future of Mor Gabriel, one of the World's oldest Christian monasteries, also known as the monastery of St. Gabriel, a property of the Syrian Orthodox Church (Suryani).
In August 2008, three mukhtars (low level elected officials with limited authority) in Midyat, filed a criminal complaint with a local prosecutor against the Monastery of St. Gabriel alleging it "illegally appropriated territory by building a wall." (See US Department of State, 2008 Human Rights Report: Turkey.)