It is 25 years since an explosion tore through the nuclear plant at Chernobyl, sending a radioactive cloud across large parts of Europe in what was the worst nuclear accident in history.
A church service began at 1.23 am local time in Kiev, marking the time of the explosion on April 26, 1986.
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia paid tribute to the heroism of the workers who worked to contain the fallout.
However, he lamented that the lessons of Chernobyl had not been learned as mankind continues to recklessly consume the land, water, air and the environment as a whole.
He said: “People will not be guaranteed against tragedies similar to the one that occurred 25 years ago if they do not learn to use natural resources and achievements of civilisation wisely, with care for each other and everything God has created.”
He also reflected on the link between such disasters and the state of the human soul.
“Manmade disasters, which have been assuming an increasingly menacing scope as civilisation is developing, reflect what is happening inside the human soul,” he said.
“Without a profound spiritual analysis of the role man plays in the universe such disasters cannot be prevented.”
The Patriarch suggested that ethics should not be disregarded in the development of science and technology.
He said: “It must be combined with devotion to the eternal moral standards and the ideals of mutual respect and love. This is the guarantee of a worthy future for our people and the world as a whole.”