11/22/2005, 00.00
RUSSIA
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Russian monk preaches online

Russian Orthodox Patriarchate opens website for an old monk who spent time in the gulag.

Moscow (AsiaNews/Agencies) – An old monk can now preach online thanks to a website set up by Moscow's Russian Orthodox Patriarchate.

Over the years, the faithful by the tens of thousands have visited the Pskovo-Petcherski Monastery, where he used to, to listen to his sermons. But the Russian Orthodox Church now has made his available online at www.portal-slovo.ru.

With bells ringing and religious songs in the background, the wise man's jerky but still forceful voice welcomes internet visitors in a traditional greeting: "My beloved brothers and sisters".

"We have come out sick and maimed from the times in which we were atheism's prisoners. Who knows whether we can recover from it," Father Ionau says in one of his sermons.

Sent to a gulag camp in 1950 for "anti-Soviet propaganda", the former inmate now leads a hermit life after 40 years in Pskovo-Petcherski Monastery, where he welcomed tens of thousands of pilgrims, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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