Europe wrong to relegate religion: Russian patriarch

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The head of the Russian Orthodox Church on Wednesday criticised western European countries for placing human rights above religious values, and warned of the dangers of atheism, Interfax reported.

"I am frightened by what is happening in certain countries, particularly in western Europe, where it is necessary to ban crosses in schools, and erase religion from public life in the name of human rights," Patriarch Kirill said in a meeting with German President Christian Wulff.

"I am convinced that modern civilisation is making the same mistakes as the Soviet Union, where atheism was an official ideology," he was quoted as saying by the news agency,

"It doesn't make any difference in what name you do it. In the end the signal is the same: liquidising, removing the religious consciousness," he said.

The Russian Orthodox Church has enjoyed a renaissance since the fall of the Soviet Union, with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin promoting ties between church and state during his presidency.

© 2010 AFP

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