7th May 14:25
Russian Orthodox envoy blesses new church in North Korea (russian orthodox)
MOSCOW, June 24 (AFP) - A Russian Orthodox envoy on Tuesday blessed the
first stone in the foundation of a church to be built in the North Korean
capital Pyongyang, a church official told AFP.
The small church -- styled blending local architecture with the onion-domed
Russian Orthodox tradition -- will be the first built in the Stalinist capital
in half a century, said Nikolai Balashov, the Moscow patriarchate's spokesman
on inter-Orthodox relations.
North Korea's reclusive leader, Kim Jong-Il, invited the Orthodox envoy --
Archbishop Kliment of Kaluga and Borovsky -- to Pyongyang, Balashov said.
Kim decided to build an Orthodox church in the North Korean capital after
visiting one in Khabarovsk, Siberia, during a train tour of the Russian far
east last summer, Balashov said.
A North Korean delegation comprising architects and members of its
Believers Council visited several Russian churches last year, he added.
Orthodox believers are estimated to number only around 200 in North Korea,
where religious believers are reportedly persecuted.
Russia is one of the few countries to have regular relations with North