TAMBOV. Aug 20 (Interfax) - An off-staff Tambov deacon, Sergei Baranov, has criticized a verdict handed down in the Pussy Riot trial as disproportionate to what the defendants committed.
The defendants have uncovered the "numerous ulcers and sores" of the Russian Orthodox Church, Baranov wrote in open letter to Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill in his Facebook blog.
The deacon expressed a wish to be defrocked as he had made a decision to break up, "fully and unconditionally", with the Russian Orthodox Church led by the Moscow Patriarchate.
"It was hard for me to witness numerous interchurch squabbles, which are worse than in the mundane life. I have nearly lost faith in priesthood," Baranov told Interfax.
Nine years ago, he asked Archbishop Feodosy of Tambov and Michurinsk to allow him move to another diocese. He took the job of a deacon in Uryupinsk, the Volgograd region, and enrolled in the Law Faculty of the Volgograd University.
"As a Christian and lawyer, I see that the [Pussy Riot] girls, who had committed no crime, were convicted of criminal charges," Baranov said.
The Moscow Patriarchate was actually the initiator of the criminal proceedings and contributed to the later events, while the court showed that "any person may be jailed no matter what he did and that the ruling may be motivated by anything", he said.
"The Holy Orthodoxy is turning into Orthodox fundamentalism, something the church hierarchs have been so persistently trying to impose. It may lead to frightening consequences. I felt I ought to quit that church," the deacon said.
He added that many clergymen shared his view.
"No one approves what the girls did. But many believe that the punishment was excessive. In my opinion, the church should have forgiven the girls during the days of forgiveness. Murderers and pedophiles get minimal prison terms, while a 40-second-long buffoonery fetched two years in a standard-security colony".
Baranov said he felt respect for the defendants when he heard their last statements revealing "more Christian love of people and more mercy than in those who condemn them".
Baranov's decision echoed Svetlana Goryacheva's reaction to the Pussy Riot verdict. A historian and an expert on the Bible, she wrote on Facebook that she was breaking up with the Russian Orthodox Church, following the "shameful events of the last few months", particularly the Pussy Riot verdict that, she claims to have been "directly instigated by church hierarchs and people who wrongly called themselves Orthodox believers".
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