For any Orthodox Christian it is difficult and just impossible to make up his mind with the crashing news. Yes, all of us knew that His Holiness was seriously ill, but still we hoped for a miracle. Burning pain shot up the heart, and it seems that it is impossible to find proper words to express the heart bleeding. We can hardly understand that we will never see his soft pursy eyes and we will never hear his gentle voice encouraging the Orthodox people in each fairest corner of our Motherland. The greatest peacemaker deceased. The greatest pastor and spiritual leader of our people expired. And we became fatherless at once…
His Holiness Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II deceased when he was almost 80. Patriarch Alexy (secular name Aleksey Mikhailovich Ridiger) was born on 23 February 1929 in Tallinn to an Orthodox priest's family. After the Great Patriotic War he graduated with honors from the Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) Theological Seminary and Academy. He spent a half of his life in the Baltic region, where in 1961, he was nominated Bishop of Tallinn and Estonia.
In 1968, Archbishop Alexy was elevated to the rank of metropolitan, and in summer 1990, he was elected to the Patriarchal See of Moscow. His enthronement took place on 10 June 1990.
His patriarchal time coincided with rough years in the history of our Motherland, which are often called now “The Second Time of Trouble”. With the Patriarch miter he had to bear tremendous responsibility to actually restore the Russian Orthodox Church, and save souls of his people who cast prudence to the winds.
In bloody autumn of 1993, Alexy II, the great peacemaker, made his utmost to reach the hearts of politicians on the both sides of barricades when letch for power made them blind. And there is no guilt of Patriarch that his peacemaking mission failed. Perhaps the time required that blood. There is no guilt of Patriarch that on October 3 and 4 the asphalt of Moscow streets became red with blood of Moscow professors and students, worker and intellectuals standing in lines around the Moscow “White House”. He is not guilty of blood of guarding militiamen, officers and soldiers of the Volunteer Regiment who remained true to the oath… There is no guilt of him for the death of an Orthodox priest who tried to stop tanks of “tonton macoutes” with his cross, and was killed with machinegun fire from an armored personnel carrier. No, there is no Patriarch’s guilt of all that outrage. But just torn bleeding heart of our Pastor…
His Holiness holds the great credit for opposition to the foreign clerical and quasi-clerical expansionism alien to the Russian culture. This man was at great pains to convince many zealous politicians and “cultural figures” that the visit of the Pope to Russia is untimely. For, may be, they never knew the fact that the land, on which the Pope puts his foot, becomes for Rome the Catholicity canonical territory that opens wide .gates to the aggressive Catholic expansion in the Russian lands, so-called NATO expansion eastwards.
However, the greatest achievement of His Holiness is of course the unification of two sister-churches – the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) and Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia (ROCOR). The titanic efforts of Alexy II and Metropolitan Laurus have resulted in termination of the almost century-old split of the single church. And the standoff was rather severe. I remember that as far back as 1986 in Jerusalem Gethsemane, Sister Georgiya, a nun of the Gorny Monastery, and me were pushed out of the Temple of St. Mary Magdalene belonging to the ROCOR only because they identified her by face as a servant of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem, Moscow Patriarchate, and me by my shoulder patch with the USSR state emblem as a Soviet officer. Today due to the efforts of late Patriarch both churches perform acts of worship together, and we, as one single Russian Orthodox laity, may stand shoulder to shoulder and speak the holy words making us again a single nation without “reds” and “whites”:
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father
His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia deceased. This mourning news was heard in all corners of the planet. It splashed in tears of the yesterday’s night actually all-Russian praying. It sounded in mourning toll of the bells in the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Patriarchal Cathedral, New York. It shot hearts of Orthodox Christians in Greece, Serbia, Rumania and Palestine. Muslim, Judaic and Buddhist communities in Russia and abroad expressed their sincere condolences on the death of this really great man. The Holy See of Roma sent its condolences too.
When preparing this article I read lots of good and sincere words addressed to the deceased. But the yesterday’s words of the head of our state about deceased Patriarch actually moved me deeply. It is difficult to blame me for groveling therefore may be I got no high ranks, free flat or free country house as distinct from many my colleagues. I made them by my own hands. But when I saw the Medvedev’s eyes full of pain and heard his sincere words about deceased His Holiness, I understood inter alia that this talented economist, politician, diplomat with a soft slightly shy smile yet capable of taking the tough military decision on Georgia this August, is also a true Orthodox Christian, which means much for me personally. Therefore I world like to finish this article with the words of our President Dmitry Medvedev because a truer word may be hardly spoken:
"A great sorrow has befallen our nation, our society – the death of Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II. He was an outstanding religious figure and true spiritual leader, and he was also a great Citizen of Russia, a man whose destiny reflected all the great trials and upheavals that our country traversed in the twentieth century, a critical time in our country's history. He was a true pastor and an example of spiritual steadfastness and noble acts throughout his life. He was with his flock during the days of persecution and during the revival of faith.
He played a direct part in the Russian Orthodox Church’s revival and in the genuine affirmation of the principles of freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, and helped establish civil peace and concord in this multiethnic and multi-faith country that is Russia...
Selflessly shouldering his pastoral duties, the Holy Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia was conscious of his responsibilities not only before the Church but before the entire nation. We are all deeply grieve at his passing. This is a great loss for me personally too. We will always remember his spiritual assistance, wisdom and his endless devotion to his country and people.
We will always feel his support. May his memory live forever.