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Repose of Patriarch

Eternal Memory!

It has been announced that His Holiness Patriarch Alexis II reposed this morning, 5 December 2008, at his home in Peredelkino outside Moscow. Aged 79, His Holiness had long had heart problems and had only recently returned from medical treatment in Germany.

The son of emigres and born in Estonia in 1929, Patriarch Alexis was enthroned in 1990 and lived through the extraordinary period of the Rebaptism of Russia and the renascence of the Russian Orthodox Church of the last eighteen years. Today, three quarters of all Orthodox Christians, some 150 million people worldwide and belonging to over fifty different nationalities, owe their allegiance to the multinational Russian Orthodox Church. She has opened over 20,000 churches and 700 monasteries in that time and once more become the leader of the Orthodox world, as before 1917.

The repose of His Holiness came the day after he had celebrated the Feast of the Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple in the heart of Russian Orthodoxy, the Cathedral of the Dormition in the Moscow Kremlin. Afterwards His Holiness celebrated a service of supplication before the relics of his predecessor, St Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow, on the anniversary of his enthronement. The Patriarch’s repose comes on the very day it has been announced in Ekaterinburg that the human remains found in the Urals in the 1990s are indeed those of the martyred Tsar Nicholas II. The expert DNA study has only confirmed what already seemed clear to most. These ‘coincidences’ with the anniversary of the enthronement of Patriarch Tikhon and the confirmation of the identity of the relics of the martyred Tsar (and the rest of his family) are not without spiritual significance.

It may be noted that His Holiness, administrative head of the Church inside Russia, outlived the ever-memorable Metropolitan Laurus, administrative head of the Church Outside Russia, by only a few months. It was these two hierarchs, two unique personalities, who together created the conditions for unity of the two parts of the Russian Orthodox Church, which came about on the Feast of the Ascension, 17 May 2007.

The Holy Synod in Moscow has up to six months to choose a successor. Whoever they elect, he will have to oversee the completion of the continuing and arduous task of Churching the masses of Russian Orthodox. Tens of millions have been baptised, but are often not instructed in the Orthodox Faith, still victims of the after-effects of Soviet Communism. These effects include Western-style mass immorality, divorce and abortion, mafia gangsterism and a decline in the population. The future Patriarch will also have to lead the fight against post-Soviet superstition and ritualist and nationalist ignorance, which have led to absurd calls for the canonisation of such personalities as Ivan the ‘Terrible’, Rasputin and even Soviet leaders. At the same time he will have to face the problem of continuing to organise Orthodox resistance to westernising, ecumenistic movements inside the Russian Federation, as well as in Belarus and the Ukraine. These are led both by anti-religious consumerist materialists and anti-Orthodox pseudo-Christians from Western Europe and North America, for example Pentecostalists and Uniats, who trade on US-financed hatred of Russian Orthodoxy, Soviet-inspired popular ignorance and political corruption, especially in the Ukraine.

To His Holiness Alexis, Patriarch of Moscow and All the Russias, Eternal Memory!

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