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Military blessings are very common in Russia and Russian Orthodox priests are blessing not only soldiers but also weapons and even weapons of mass destruction. Orthodox priests are regularly taking part in preparations for Victory Day parades (celebration of victory in World War II) during May every year where priests bless military weapons before they take their places in the event. The idea behind this practice is that weapons are perceived as means of protection and salvation and as such they need blessing.
But the practice of blessing weapons is now questioned by senior Church officials in Russia for not being compatible with Church's history. Last month, a Russian Orthodox Church committee on ecclesiastical law recommended that clergy concentrate on blessing soldiers, rather than weapons. “One can talk about the blessing of a warrior on military duty in defense of the fatherland,” said Savva Tutunov, a bishop of the Moscow Patriarchate, as Religion News Service reports. “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.”
It looks like the Russian Church is moving forward with new policy and that blessing of large military hardware could soon be a thing of past. But of course, not everyone agrees with the committee’s proposal and there are those who believe that blessing of weapons is needed. Vsevolod Chaplin, an influential priest and former spokesman for the patriarch, told the Vzglyad newspaper that nuclear weapons were the country’s “guardian angels” and necessary to preserve “Orthodox civilization.” “Only nuclear weapons protect Russia from enslavement by the West,” Chaplin said, according to Religion News Service.
Another thumbs down for the proposal is that it has to be approved by Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, who has praised Russia’s nuclear capability for “preventing World War III” and ensuring Russia’s state sovereignty. The Russian Orthodox Church also consecrated the country’s nuclear arsenal, during a service in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral in 2007, and that arsenal even has its own patron saint — St. Seraphim — whose remains were discovered in 1991 in a monastery in Sarov, a small town in central Russia that was home to several key nuclear facilities in the Soviet era. It looks like The Russian Church has a special connection with the country's nuclear weapons and the committee's proposal is not going to be accepted easily.