Head of Russian Orthodox Church Dies Aged 79

Tributes to the memory of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Aleksy II, have been flooding in from around the world.

The 79 year-old Patriarch Aleksy II died at his home near Moscow on Friday morning following several years of illness. The Russian Orthodox Church in New York has held a service of mourning for the http://www.wvwnews.net/story.php?id=4395.

A service has been also held at a house temple in the late http://www.wvwnews.net/story.php?id=5267’s central Moscow residence.

On Friday evening Bishop Aleksandr will hold a memorial service at Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral.

A source from the Church has said that the Patriarch died from suspected heart failure, although this hasn’t been confirmed. Alexy II’s health reportedly deteriorated after a visit to Kiev in July. In September he underwent a heart operation in a German hospital.

But this didn’t stop him from working. When in Germany, he used the opportunity to meet the local Orthodox community and performed a liturgy in Munich.

And the day before his death he held a divine service in the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Moscow Kremlin to celebrate the beginning of the http://www.wvwnews.net/story.php?id=2847 fast.An emergency session of the Synod on Saturday will decide on the date of the funeral service. A source hinted Aleksy will be buried in the Epiphany Cathedral in Yelokhov in Moscow, on Tuesday.

The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church now has a maximum of six months to elect a successor.

They will have to choose a new procedure for the elections, since it has changed several times in the 20th century. During Communist rule, the head of the Church was de facto appointed by the party leadership. Aleksy himself was elected in a secret ballot contested by three candidates.

Until a successor is chosen, the Synod will choose an acting Patriarch called a locum or “place holder.”

Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev postponed his visit to Italy when the news broke about Aleksy’s death. The President will now return directly to Moscow from the Indian capital, Delhi.

In an address to the nation, Medvedev praised Aleksy’s successful reunification of the Russian Orthodox Church and said his death was a great loss to the country and for him personally.

According to the President, the Patriarch was “a true shepherd, whose whole life was an example of spiritual resolve and high deeds. He was with his congregation in the times of persecution and in the time of the revival of the faith.”

“We all deeply grieve the loss. We will always remember his spiritual help, wisdom and boundless devotion to his country and his people.”

The death of Patriarch Aleksy II is “a tragic, sad event and a great loss,” said Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is known to be a devout believer. Putin strongly supported the Orthodox Church during his presidency. He said Aleksy was “full of light” and “a real Patriarch.”

Aleksy the Second will be remembered as the first Patriarch of a new Russia.

He led the revival of the Russian Orthodox Church after Soviet repressions and united it with foreign congregations following a 90 year split after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.

The son of a priest, Aleksey Ridiger was born in Tallinn, Estonia, on February, 23, 1929.


From Western Voices: The passing of the 16th Patriarch of Moscow and of All the Russias, primate of the Holy Russian Orthodox Church into life eternal is enormous news. For Russia, the largest white nation on earth, he held a position of authority equal to that of the Pope for Roman Catholics, and was revered by all Orthodox worldwide. Western Voices World News extends its condolences to our Christian Orthodox readers and friends and we hope that Aleksy II’s replacement will continue his predecessor’s quest for a strong, united and free Russia.