Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, has asked clergy to refrain from driving after “consuming holy sacraments” — the sweet wine used in services — and parishioners to make sure that clerics who may have overindulged get home safely. In addition, he asked Moscow diocesan officials to be more financially mindful when purchasing cars: “Let’s think of using vehicles which ill-wishers won’t use as a cause to discredit the clergy…[T]here are [more modest cars] that yield to none neither in comfort nor in safety, but these makes will never appear in the news.”
What’s the Big Idea?
Although Russia is known for its love of expensive cars and its dearth of safe drivers, two incidents of drunk driving in which clergy were at the wheel generated a great deal of criticism in the press and on social networks. One of them was a hit-and-run involving a Mercedes SUV in which two people were killed; in the other, the driver of the BMW roadster refused to take an alcohol test. These were just two of several scandals involving the Russian Orthodox Church this year. As a guarded official, Kirill himself uses cars from the state car pool, which, for most members of his status, tend to be armored Mercedes limos.
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