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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Orthodox Bishop Says Purity of Church Teachings at Risk

A Russian Orthodox bishop is lashing out at church leaders, accusing them of retreating from the "purity" of the Orthodox faith and starting an unusual protest campaign.

A spokeswoman for the Moscow Patriarchate on Thursday refused to comment on an open letter by Bishop Diomid, of the far eastern province of Chukotka, and four of his subordinates in which they criticized the church's central office.

The letter, which was posted on several Orthodox web sites, accused the Moscow Patriarchate of what it called inappropriate striving for unity with other faiths, supporting democracy, globalization and the "anti-people policies" of President Vladimir Putin's government.

"At the present time, in the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church, of which we are members, there are a number of retreats from the purity of Orthodox teachings," Diomid wrote.

The ongoing "growing spiritual accommodation that subordinates the power of the church to secular power, which is often iconoclastic, harms God-awarded freedom," he said.

The letter marked a rare statement of protest within the church, which has experienced a major resurgence after the 1991 Soviet collapse that ended decades of state atheism.

Senior Patriarchate spokesman Vladimir Viglyansky said the statement demonstrated "ignorance" because the questions raised in it have long been and are being discussed and addressed by the Church, RIA-Novosti reported.

Viglyansky also insisted that the letter did not represent a schism within the Church, the report said.