Russian Orthodox patriarch calls in peace in ME

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, in his Christmas Eve message Saturday, expressed satisfaction with the growth of the church and called for peace in the Middle East. The Russian Orthodox Church, like some other Orthodox churches including those in Ukraine and Serbia, observes Christmas on Jan. 7 because it retained the Julian calendar for its liturgical schedule when countries switched to the Gregorian calendar. "Ever more people are returning to the homeland faith, churches are filled with parishioners of all ages, millions of people are reading spiritual literature and taking part in church affairs," Patriarch Alexy II said in his message, issued by the church before Christmas Eve services.