Krasnoyarsk, Russia

  • Date
  • 15 August 1999

Russian Orthodox Churches – adorned with gold paint, oil paintings of Jesus, Mary and the Disciples, numerous candelabras and ornate icons – amaze me every time I enter. The grandeur reminds me of how good the Russians once lived.

Now, though, outside the door of most churches, old women sit with small plastic bowls begging until the next service, when they move inside to worship. A choir chants and sings while a White Priest, allowed to marry as opposed to a Black Priest, who is like a monk, leads the service. The priest circles the congregation moving a small gold ball of incense back and forth blessing the sacred objects in the church and worshippers bowing their heads toward him. Many attending are women over 55 and less than a handful of children are present.

In order for Russia to stabilize politically and economically, it needs some kind of moral conscience to help people distinguish good from bad and right from wrong. The Church does not appear to be fulfilling this void, except for poor, older women, frowning upon the excesses of the young.