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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Memory Eternal



As seen from Yahoo News


MOSCOW – In his nearly two decades at the head of the
world's largest Orthodox church, Patriarch Alexy II oversaw a religious revival
in Russia and healed a major church rift, but his death leaves a long-running
dispute with the Vatican unresolved.

Alexy's death Friday at age 79
deprives the Russian Orthodox Church of its dominant figure, whose stern,
bearded mien gave him an almost medieval aura of inflexible righteousness. He
often complained that Roman Catholics were poaching adherents among a people who
traditionally would have been Orthodox if atheistic Soviet rule had not impeded
them.

Yet he and the church held many discussions with the Vatican,
aiming to reach an agreement that would allow the church to accept a papal visit
to Russia.

Without Alexy at the helm, the church's initiatives on that
question may go dormant for several months. The church's Holy Synod is to choose
a placeholder leader on Saturday, but election of a new patriarch is likely to
take six months. Metropolitan Kirill, the church's foreign relations chief who
has had extensive contact with the Vatican, appears to be one of the top
candidates.

The Moscow Patriarchate said Alexy died at his residence
outside Moscow, but did not give a cause of death. Alexy had long suffered from
a heart ailment, although on Thursday he had appeared comparatively well while
conducting services.

His funeral was tentatively slated for Tuesday,
according to Russian news agency Interfax, which cited his spokesman Vladimir
Vigilyansky.

Alexy became leader of the church in 1990, as the
officially atheist Soviet Union was loosening its restrictions on religion.
After the Soviet Union collapsed the following year, the church's popularity
surged. Church domes that had been stripped of their gold under the Soviets were
regilded, churches that had been converted into warehouses or left to rot in
neglect were painstakingly restored, and hours-long services on major religious
holidays were broadcast live on national television.

By the time of
Alexy's death, the church's flock was estimated to include about two-thirds of
Russia's 142 million people, making it the world's largest Orthodox
church.


You can read the rest of the article at Yahoo News




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