MOSCOW, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, used his annual Christmas message Monday to call on Russians to adopt more orphans.
His message, which came with Christmas greetings, comes in the wake of a Jan. 1 law banning adoption of Russian children by American families.
"I would like to call on all of you who can take an important step aimed at adopting children and supporting orphans. Do take this step. There must be no orphans in our country. Those who have no parents should find them, among kind, honest and warmhearted people," he said.
Critics of the adoption ban said it would keep tens of thousands of children, including those with disabilities, in the Russian orphanage system, the Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported, noting figures from the U.S. State Department indicating more than 60,000 Russian children were adopted by American families in the past 20 years.