Heads of Orthodox churches attend liturgy for Communist terror victims

Posted: Friday, May 21, 2004

MOSCOW (AP) In a symbolic move to mend an old rift, Russia's Orthodox patriarch and the visiting head of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia worshipped together at a site where tens of thousands of people were executed by Soviet secret police.

Moscow Patriarch Alexy II conducted the liturgy at the Butovo range south of Moscow, where masses, priests included, were executed by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's secret police in the 1930.

Metropolitan Laurus is making the first official visit since his Church Outside Russia was founded in 1920 by emigres who broke with the Moscow Patriarchate in 1920 following the Bolshevik Revolution. The visit has raised hopes the schism might be overcome.

Alexy voiced confidence that old divisions will end, saying, ''Our duty before the victims of terror is to unite people in the faith that will save them, so that such events never happen again,'' ITAR-Tass reported.

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