*** It is done "not on the instruction, but as existing churches cannot house all coming believers"
Moscow, May 15, Interfax - The Russian Church has 36,000 churches, their number continuously grows, head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk says.
"When we celebrated the 1000 anniversary of Russia's Baptism in 1988, the Russian Church has 6,000 churches. Today we have 36,000 churches. We opened a thousand churches a year with almost the same speed, or three churches a day," he said on air Church and the World program on Rossiya-24 TV.
He stressed it was done "not on the instruction, but as existing churches cannot house all coming believers".
"As the number of believers continuously grows, then the number of churches should also grow," the metropolitan said.
The Russian Orthodox Church provides pastoral care to Orthodox residents in a number of states - Russia, Ukraine, Byelorussia, Moldavia, the Central Asia, the Baltic States, China and Japan. The Moscow Patriarchate's communities exist in many other countries where Russian-speaking diaspora lives.