I depict a riot
Archbishop Elisey of Sourozh
67 Ennismore Gardens
Please forgive my emailing you in this way, but I do so in the hope that you will use your influence within the Russian Orthodox Church to condemn the excessively intolerant stance taken by some of its Russian clergy (including the Patriarch himself) during the trial and sentencing of the members of the Russian punk bank "Pussy Riot". Whatever one may think of protests within churches, their undeniably political act was in response to the Patriarch's own open political act of support for President Putin. I can sympathize with those who say that a church is not the place for such a protest, and I doubt whether the members of Pussy Riot themselves expected to get away unpunished. However, the calls from the Church for draconian sentences, and the refusal of its hierarchy to make any calls for clemency until after the sentences had been passed, suggest that the Orthodox Church in Russia has lost its bearings, lost its humanity, and forgotten the example of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I surely do not need to remind you that Our Lord was not averse to mounting a protest in a place of worship when he considered that its primary purpose had been subverted from worship to commerce. For "commerce" substitute "party politics" and you have the "punk prayer" protest. Unlike Jesus, the ladies of Pussy Riot did not use violence during their demonstration. Two of them have young children. Under these circumstances it escapes me how the authorities of a Christian church could demand - and obtain - harsh sentencing.
Forgive me, Your Holiness, if you have already spoken out on this matter, but I have read nothing from you so hoped that you might take a more clement line than your colleagues in Russia, and moreover that you might be prepared to speak out against this injustice. Denounce the protest from the pulpit if you wish, but denounce too the inhumane sentences passed. And - if you dare - denounce the Church in which you are a respected figure for having so lost sight of Our Lord's example.