Chernobyl God's punishment for 'sinners': Russian church
Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill said on Wednesday the nuclear catastrophe in Chernobyl was God's punishment of people for their sins, a day after the world marked the 25th anniversary of the worst man-made disaster.
On Tuesday, Kirill accompanied Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his Ukrainian counterpart to the Ukrainian town of Chernobyl to take part in memorial ceremonies marking a quarter century since the accident.
Speaking the next day to reporters in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, the Russian Patriarch said that "the finger of God" was at work in the spring of 1986.
In the early hours of April 26, 1986, workers at the Chernobyl power station were carrying out a test on reactor four when operating errors and design flaws sparked successive explosions.
"Sin that has permeated man's nature pushes people to make mistakes in the name of achieving sinful aims," the Interfax news agency quoted Kirill as saying.
While acknowledging that the accident was man-made in nature, Kirill said God punished people by allowing the accident to happen.
"A terrible mistake was the reason for the Chernobyl catastrophe," he was quoted as saying.
"God could have stopped the hand of an operator who managed the reactor and committed a terrible mistake. God let it happen. And many people through their deaths have maybe made their contribution to reaching atonement."
Kirill called the cleanup operation involving hundreds of rescue workers from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine a "great ethical feat," saying people's ever-expanding scientific knowledge called for greater responsibilty towards people and nature.
© 2011 AFP