Patriarch welcomes crackdown on sects

Itar-Tass/March 3, 1999
By Nick Wadhams

Moscow -- Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia said law and order measures to protect Russians from totalitarian sects roaming the county are vital.

He said at a press conference in his Moscow's working residence in Chisty Pereulok of Wednesday that legal actions like the criminal proceeding against Jehovah's Witnesses, now in progress, and the recent search in the grounds of a scientology centre in St. Petersburg seek "to sort out what these sects are bringing into souls of people - good, peace or confusion and evil".

Alexy said this was also the logic behind Russia's recently passed law on religious associations which stipulates a 15-year period to take proselytising groups out of Russia's mainstream religions for final registration.

A district court in Yakutia on Wednesday used the law to ban a Pentecost sect on the grounds that it eluded registration and barred its converts from medical care and school education.

Many of the sects cripple human souls, as is witnessed by multiple letters to the Moscow Patriarchy from mothers whose children ended up in the sects and by the experience of the rehabilitation centre for victims of spiritual mutilation which work at Moscow's Transfiguration Church, Alexy said.

He said the centre works to return people into the fold of the mother Church.

"These people are in a very hard situation. All has been seized from them - the apartment, valuables, money. The rehabilitation period is compounded by the fact that they have no roof over their heads, nor work, nor material means," the patriarch said.

He said the Church and the state must cooperate in the difficult task of rehabilitation.

Alexy II said satanic cults are especially wicked. He said he knew evidence of their setting to fire numerous Orthodox churches, leaving satanic signs at the crime scene.

"Is there not enough evil in our country to multiply it on a religious basis?" he said.

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