Patriarch Aleksei Rediger of Moscow and all the Russias (1929-2008)
The death of Patriarch Aleksei Rediger of Moscow and all the Russias is an irreparable loss and a great sorrow for all Orthodox, for all Christians, indeed, for all of Russian society. The First Hierarch of the Moscow Patriarchate died today at his residence in Peredelkino outside Moscow at the age of 79. Aleksei II was the First Hierarch of the MP for 18 years. His first steps on the spiritual path were nearly 70 years ago, when his parents took little Alyosha Rediger to Valaam Monastery and he met holy elders there. One of them wrote him spiritual letters for several years afterwards. It was clear that the 9-year-old boy was destined for a bright future.
Bishop Mark Golovkov of Yegorevsk commented, “His Holiness Patriarch Aleksei came to head the Russian Church at a time of spiritual revival. Yes, we see that churches and monasteries were rebuilt. However, the most important thing is that the church made a comeback in people’s lives and souls, both Russians and non-Russians. Many of the achievements in the church and in society can be attributed to His Holiness. Today, we continue to go on because we follow in his footsteps, we hear his words, we obey his precepts, and the word of blessing he carried to the people lives on”.
Patriarch Aleksei’s tenure was crowned with the reconciliation of the MP (the Russian Orthodox Church “inside” Russia) with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. The two branches of Russian Orthodoxy were split for nearly 90 years. For several decades, Patriarch Aleksei worked persistently at arranging a dialogue between the two churches. His effort resulted in the signing of an Act of Canonical Communion at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow on 17 May 2007. Bishop Mark said, “This was a severe trial for all of Orthodoxy, but, the long-awaited reconciliation came about eventually due to Patriarch Aleksei’s efforts, willpower, and faith. The coming together of the two churches was possible largely due to the wisdom, patience, and humility demonstrated by His Holiness, who consistently exerted every effort to bring the children of God together under his wing, to gather them around him as their father. If we were to define the essence of the philosophy of His Holiness, most would say that the word best suited to describe him is one simple word… ‘Father’”.
During his tenure, Patriarch Aleksei oversaw the building and restoration of Orthodox churches in Russia and abroad, he created a social concept for Russian Orthodoxy in the 21st century, he attended to the special needs of young people, he conducted a skilful and conscientious dialogue with the state, and he worked to ensure the spiritual revival of Russia. These are but a tiny fraction of the grand projects the First Hierarch of the MP fulfilled over the years of his patriarchate. In one of his interviews, he presented his vision of reality. “Our time marks the second baptism of Russia. The first was performed by Grand Prince St Vladimir, and the second revival of spiritual, monastic, and parish life began with the celebration of the millennial anniversary of the Baptism of Russia”. In truth, Patriarch Aleksei performed the second baptism of Russia and led Russia out of the atheistic abyss. He inspired Russia and the Russian people to return to their Orthodox faith and to its Christian values.
5 December 2008
Voice of Russia World Service