Missionary Orthodox priest laid to rest after being murdered by masked gunman

.- An Orthodox priest who was murdered in church by a masked gunman was laid to rest in Moscow on Monday. He was known for his missionary work in converting Muslims and members of religious sects and had received many death threats.

Investigators are examining religious hatred as the main motive for the killing of Fr. Daniil Sysoyev, who was murdered in his church on Thursday evening.

The gunman had entered St. Thomas Church in southern Moscow and asked for Fr. Sysoyev. When the priest identified himself, the gunman shot and killed him.

About 30 police and other security officers were at the burial service at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in southwest Moscow and at the burial at Kunsevo cemetery, RIA Novosti reports.

The 34-year-old priest is survived by his wife and three children.

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill attended the service and urged others to carry on Fr. Sysoyev’s work.

"Being unable to offer any wise arguments against a priest's words in their mind and heart, and going against God's word, they cover him with libel and even raise their hand at him," he said.

While the murdered priest had been powerful in speech, the Patriarch commented, his death could be his “strongest word.”

The Patriarch on Friday warned against a rush to accuse individuals or groups of the murder.

“Any murder is a grave sin. But the murder of a priest in a church is also a challenge to the law of God,” the Patriarch had said. “This sin will not be left unrevenged by God."

Alexander Veretennikov, the head of the Zaporozhye Cossacks' mission in Moscow, was at the service for Fr. Sysoyev.

He has proposed organizing with Ukrainian Cossacks a guard for churches in Russia and the Ukraine to prevent other attacks.

All religious groups in Russia condemned the murder and have demanded better security for the clergy, RIA Novosti says.

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev on Monday said the murder of the priest was an “extremely severe crime.” On Friday, Russian State Duma lawmakers asked for more information on the groups involved in order to consider measures to restrict foreign religious organizations’ activities in Russia.

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