for Interfax on May 7, 2011
Moscow, April 29, Interfax - Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin has assured there will be no delays in the implementation of a program for building 200 new Orthodox churches in Moscow.
"There will be no problems and delays. Now it's necessary to switch to the practical phase in designing and building churches," Sobyanin said at a meeting of the board of trustees of the Church Construction Support Fund in Moscow on Friday.
Fifteen plots of land have been passed to the Russian Orthodox Church, and a decision on allotting five more plots for building churches was made recently. In addition, active work is under way on 80 more plots, and the city land department has endorsed their boundaries, he said.
"I think we should lay the foundations and start the construction of at least eight or nine churches this year. We should also decide on who is going to sponsor the construction," he said.
Meanwhile, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia pins great hopes to the program for the construction of 200 pre-fabricated Orthodox churches in Moscow.
"Two hundred churches will not fully solve the problem, but they will change the situation radically, because we will have the chance to work with the people living within walking distance from the churches," the Patriarch said at the meeting.
Moscow can set a standard for regions in this respect, and "if we manage to implement this program, this will change the entire religious image of Russia," he said.
Moscow is "on the last place in terms of the ratio between the number of churches and the number of Orthodox believers," the latter totaling 89.7% of Russia's population, according to the Patriarch. This ratio in Moscow is one church per 35,000 people on average, and in certain districts it is one church per 150,000 to 200,000 people. During religious holidays, especially Epiphany and Christmas, over 100,000 people a day pass through one Moscow church, he said.