Church embarrassed by leader’s expensive watch; tries to airbrush it away

April 6, 2012 • 11:55 am

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.’”

  • Finally, those wacky Russian bloggers published the ultimate satirical photo:

43 thoughts on “Church embarrassed by leader’s expensive watch; tries to airbrush it away

  1. 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.”

    How many things wrong can one point out in that short paragraph!

  2. 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.

    This, I think, takes the cake: preaching the importance of asceticism, while wearing a $30,000 watch.

    1. No worse, IMO, than the Pope blathering on about “urging humanity to see through the superficial glitter and commercialism of the season” last Christmas while standing in the midst of St. Peter’s Basilica, surely one of the gaudiest displays of wealth and excess this side of Las Vegas.

      1. And what’s more, on the floor inside are markers showing the size of other cathedrals and basilicas in order to emphasise that St Peter’s is bigger!

  3. Hi Jerry

    I couldn’t find your email address so I’m using this form to send you this link:

    http://irishfaithcentre.ie/ressurrection.html

    I saw this ad in a Dublin bus this week and I couldn’t believe how they have the guts to give a lecture on “proof of ressurection” or something like that. Have fun!

    BTW, your blog (sic) rocks!

    Thank you!

    1. And the video they’d showing is by “Dr. Gene Scott, PhD” the most crackpot of televangelists. He’s also now a dead and un-resurrected crackpot.

    1. “http://img.leprosorium.com/1425596 (What time is it? -Jesus, fuck off!)”

      And he’s not wearing a watch, but it’s reflected in the table (or Jesus is visiting the photoshopped Patriarch).

  4. Look. If you have to be photographed wearing a table-cloth draped cloche on your head, you’re going to need to wear an authority time piece, aren’t you? Otherwise, you’d look just ridiculous.

  5. On one hand, great story. On the other…don’t miss the forest for the trees. Or should I say: don’t miss the building for the watch.

    1. Yes, but it can always be argued that the buildings are for the glory of God. The watch is trickier to justify.

  6. I’m sure Jerry didn’t read the Wikipedia entry on Patriarch Kirill, else he would have noticed this statement, and SURELY have refrained from even mentioning the prelate:

    A spokesperson added that it was “unethical” to discuss Kirill’s private life

  7. If they were going to take the time to Photoshop anything out you’d think they would have started with the silly hat. I mean, that hat is really embarrassing.

  8. Anyone who wears a hat as silly (and ugly) as that one has given up all aspiration to be taken seriously. Why would you admit owning a watch that costs as much as a nice car, and then deny wearing it against all the evidence?

    Well at least we all know that the patriarch, like so many other religious bloodsuckers, is happy to lie if it suits his purposes.

    1. Obviously.

      And in the good patriarch’s defense, I’m sure he merely stumbled across the watch on a heath. Such an exemplary ascetic would never make such a frivolous purchase.

  9. A good place for my favorite Russian phrase (aka the only one I know). Phonetically, N’yeh sooey hooey’v t’chai

    Idiomatic, apparently means use the right tool for the job. Literally, I’ll let some who know Russian translate. And if you could also add it written in Cyrillic with the translation, I’d appreciate it.

    1. He certainly looks like a right tool. (I don’t know if that expression is universal; where I come from it means stupid prick).

  10. Perhaps the church was embarrassed that it was only a $30,000 watch. After all, it’s not hard to find a watch that costs more than a house – if you know where to look.

  11. That has to be the most stupid looking headgear ever designed. Does he have to watch out for low doorways?

    But what puzzles me about the watch is, how can anyone tell? I can see it’s a watch of some sort, but that’s as far as it goes.

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