The Russian Orthodox Church has expressed its outrage at what it claims is a Mormon scheme to buy up the names of dead Russians in order to baptize "dead souls" in their faith. \nIn one archive, in the town of Nizhni Novgorod, east of Moscow, the Church of the Latter Day Saints has paid US$0.10 for each page of thousands of names of dead people dating mainly from the late 18th century to be put on a microfilm. \nThe idea, the last-ditch attempt of a cash-strapped archive to fund urgent preservation work, has caused fury among the predominantly Orthodox nation. The Mormon Church is angry at what it sees as an obstruction to its religious practices. \nFather Igor Pchelintsov, spo-kesman for the local Orthodox Church, said: "The teaching of the Mormons about the conversion of the dead contradicts reason and naturally causes concern among the faithful and creates a tense situation." \nThe work in the archive has been temporarily called off while a local government commission studies it. \nNikolai Cheromin, a local official, said: "Their work is not prohibited. It is suspended and a group comprising officials and prosecutors from the four traditional Russian religions -- Christian Orthodox, Jews, Buddhists and Muslims -- are studying it." \nHe said the Mormons had been present in the town for 100 years, albeit clandestinely during the Soviet era. \nViktor Kharlanmov, head of the Nizhni Novgorod regional archive, said the project was the result of an agreement between the Mormon-linked Genealogical Society of the state of Utah and the Russian Society of Historians and Archivists in Moscow. He said it was "vital to save an important part of our archives." \nSeventy percent of the Mormon cash goes to the Moscow society, while 30 percent went to the local archives. \nOrthodox experts and officials have expressed their severe concern over the offence the project might cause locals. Alexei Dvorkin, head of the Sectology Department of the Moscow St Tikhon Institute, said: "The Mormon practice of proxy baptism or `baptizing the dead' is a well known ritual described in a lot of books. At the beginning of this practice they were looking for their ancestors with the aim of baptizing them, but later they began to baptize everyone -- Ca-tholics, Muslims, Jewish, or Orthodox." \n"Any Christian will tell you that these rituals do not harm the soul of the dead. But it hurts the feelings of the believers who see these rituals with the names of the deceased as equal to the desecration of graves by Satanists," he said. \nBut Yevgeny Smirnov, from the Nizhni Novgorod Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and adviser to the Moscow Mormon region, said: "Our church aims to create a database permitting people to look for their ancestors. Our ceremony is not rebaptism; it only gives the soul of the deceased person the freedom of choice to accept our belief or to reject it."
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
LIFELONG LOSS: Jiro Hamasumi, who was not quite born when an atomic bomb hit Hiroshima, lost his father and other relatives, but said he thinks about his father daily As Japan marks 75 years since the devastating attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the last generation of nuclear bomb survivors is working to ensure their message lives on after them. The “hibakusha” — literally “person affected by the bomb” — have for decades been a powerful voice calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. There are an estimated 136,700 left, many of whom were infants or soon to be born at the time of the attacks. The average age of a survivor now is a little over 83, according to the Japanese Ministry of Health, lending an urgency as they share their testimonies