The practice of priests blessing weapons of mass destruction may come to an end as a Russian Orthodox Church committee on ecclesiasitcal law recommended that the clergy concentrate on soldiers rather than weapons, according to the Religion News Service.
A bishop of the Moscow Patriarchate, Savva Tutunov, argued that, “One can talk about the blessing of a warrior on military duty in defense of the fatherland. At the end of the corresponding ritual, the personal weapon is also blessed - precisely because it is connected to the individual person who is receiving the blessing. By the same reasoning, weapons of mass destruction should not be sanctified.”
The proposal has yet to be approved by Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Opponents to the proposal, such as Vsevolod Chaplin, the former spokesman for the patriarch, claim that nuclear weapons are their country’s “guardian angels” and necessary to preserve “Orthodox civilization”. Patriarch Kirill has even described the Kremlin’s military campaign in Syria as a “holy war” and credited Russia’s nuclear capability with “preventing World War III”.
Many see the entwining between the Russian Orthodox Church and Russia’s armed forces as fundamental to their existence.
Yegor Kholmogorov, a nationalist, wrote, “To remain Orthodox, Russia must be a strong nuclear power, and to remain a strong nuclear power, Russia must be Orthodox.”
If Patriarch Kirill approves of the proposal, the ban would signify a change in the church’s policy regarding Russia’s nuclear arsenal.