Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A unique lawsuit

[translation is mine]
A Ekaterinburg consumer rights advocate, Aleksei Konev, has filed a suit against the Russian Orthodox Church. He accuses the ROC that it violates consumer rights.

In August of last year he paid money for the rite of a funeral service for his relative, but was unhappy with the quality of the service offered by the priests and therefore went to court, reports the "New Region", siting the "Ural-News" as its source.

"The funeral service was happening in mass volume, i.e. several deceased. In reality, as I understand funeral services, each should be done individually," says Aleksei Konev. "We are asking that the diocese follow the "Law of defense of consumer rights" because from our point of view, the Church is a service provider, just like, for example, a cleaners or a dental office."

The court date has been set for April 18th. Both the rights activist and the priests admit that such a suit has not been brought for the entire history of the Orthodox Church. Aleksei Konev is demanding that in every cathedral there should be created a "consumer's corner", analogous to the one that exists in all stores and malls today. A special stand should list the religious services, their type, quality and volume. Besides this, by the entrance there should be a corresponding sign and table with the hours of operation.

The church staff are calling these demands absurd. The activity of the Church, according to the Russian laws, has nothing in common with business. All money coming from parishioners for religious services and goods, according to the Diocese Law, counts as a voluntary donation and has nothing to do with consumer services. Besides, in the case of Aleksei Konev's relative, the direct consumer of the service, that is the deceased, did not express any complaints. In the words of the priest of the John-Predtechensky cathedral, father Alexander, the plaintiff believes that "consumer's rights were violated, as he says, for services. But the consumer of these services here is the deceased, because the Church, praying for him, asks God to rest of his soul."


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