I guess the Russian Orthodox Church is just as venal as its Vatican cousin. The New York Times has a humorous story on Patriarch Kirilli I, the leader of the whole Church. Here’s what happened:
The Church website released a photo of the Patriarch wearing an über-expensive watch, a $30,000 (!) Breguet:
Russian bloggers saw the photo and called attention to it.
Embarrassed, the Church re-released the photo with the watch PhotoShopped out. Unfortunately, they forgot to remove the reflection of the watch on the table (LOL):
The Patriarch denied he ever wore the watch, even though he admitted owning one!
“The church apologized for the deception on Thursday and restored the original photo to the site, but not before Patriarch Kirill weighed in, insisting in an interview with a Russian journalist that he had never worn the watch, and that any photos showing him wearing it must have been doctored to put the watch on his wrist. . .
The watch, on the other hand, has been an object of fascination for years, and there is little question of its existence. It was first sighted on the patriarch’s wrist in 2009 during a visit to Ukraine, where he gave a televised interview on the importance of asceticism.
A Breguet watch “is virtually a sine qua non of any depiction of the aristocracy, the bourgeoisie or, quite simply, a life of luxury and elegance,” the company says, noting that its products have been worn by Marie Antoinette and Czar Aleksandr I and cited in works by Dumas and Hugo. . .
Sorting through gifts he had received over the years, the patriarch discovered that he did indeed own the Breguet, Mr. Solovyov said. But he insisted that he had never worn it and said he suspected that any photos of him wearing it had been altered with Photoshop.”
The Church restored the original photo (avec watch) on Thursday.
The Church blamed miscreants (even though it replaced the photo with a PhotoShopped one), and threatened to punish the guilty:
“The church, after removing the doctored photo, blamed photo editors in its press service for the “technical mistake. ‘A gross violation of our internal ethics has occurred, and it will be thoroughly investigated,’ the church said in a statement. ‘The guilty will be severely punished.’”
Violation of ethics? How about punishing the Patriarch by selling the Breguet, giving the profits to the poor, and making the dude wear a $20 Casio? After all, he’s the moral leader of the church, which makes owning that expensive timepiece the real violation of ethics.
“But the patriarch has presented himself as the country’s ethical compass, and has recently embarked on a vocal campaign of public morality, advocating Christian education in public schools and opposing abortion and equal rights for gay people. He called the girl punk band protest at the cathedral ‘sacrilege.’”