Alexei II (Ridiger) of Moscow

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He was born as '''Alexei Mikhailovich Ridiger''' in Tallinn, Estonia, to the family of a [[priest]]. He graduated from Leningrad clerical seminary in 1949; was ordained [[deacon]] in 1950; graduated from Leningrad clerical academy in 1953. On August 14, 1961, he was chosen to be the [[Bishop]] of Tallinn and Estonia. On June 23, 1964, he was promoted to [[archbishop]]; and, on February 25, 1968, at the age of 39 to [[metropolitan]].<ref> Encyclopedia Britannica Online, s.v. Alexis II, http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9005644/Alexis-II 1/19/2008</ref>  
 
He was born as '''Alexei Mikhailovich Ridiger''' in Tallinn, Estonia, to the family of a [[priest]]. He graduated from Leningrad clerical seminary in 1949; was ordained [[deacon]] in 1950; graduated from Leningrad clerical academy in 1953. On August 14, 1961, he was chosen to be the [[Bishop]] of Tallinn and Estonia. On June 23, 1964, he was promoted to [[archbishop]]; and, on February 25, 1968, at the age of 39 to [[metropolitan]].<ref> Encyclopedia Britannica Online, s.v. Alexis II, http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9005644/Alexis-II 1/19/2008</ref>  
  
From 1986 until his election as Patriarch, he was Metropolitan of Novgorod and Leningrad.  After the death of [[Pimen I (Izvekov) of Moscow|Patriarch Pimen]] in 1990 Alexei was chosen to become the new Patriarch of The Russian Orthodox Church.  He was chosen on the basis of his administrative experience, and was considered "intelligent, energetic, hardworking, systematic, perceptive, and businesslike."<ref>Nathaniel Davis, A Long Walk to Church: A Contemporary History of Russian Orthodoxy, 2nd Edition.(Oxford: Westview Press, 2003),p 85.</ref> He also "had a reputation as a conciliator, "a person who could find common ground with various groups in the episcopate.""<ref>Nathaniel Davis, A Long Walk to Church: A Contemporary History of Russian Orthodoxy, 2nd Edition.(Oxford: Westview Press, 2003),p 86.</ref> Archbishishop Chrysostom (Martyshkin) remarked "With his peaceful and tolerant disposition Patriarch Aleksi will be able to unite us all."<ref>Zhurnal Moskovskoi Patriarkhii, No. 10 (October), 1990, p.16, qouted in Nathaniel Davis, A Long Walk to Church: A Contemporary History of Russian Orthodoxy, 2nd Edition.(Oxford: Westview Press, 2003),p 284.</ref> Patriarch Alexei II was "the first patriarch in Soviet history to be chosen without government pressure; candidates were nominated from the floor, and the election was conducted by secret ballot."<ref> Encyclopedia Britannica Online, s.v. Alexis II, http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9005644/Alexis-II 1/19/2008</ref>   
+
From 1986 until his election as Patriarch, he was Metropolitan of Novgorod and Leningrad.  After the death of [[Pimen I (Izvekov) of Moscow|Patriarch Pimen]] in 1990 Alexei was chosen to become the new Patriarch of The Russian Orthodox Church.  He was chosen on the basis of his administrative experience, and was considered "intelligent, energetic, hardworking, systematic, perceptive, and businesslike."<ref>Nathaniel Davis, A Long Walk to Church: A Contemporary History of Russian Orthodoxy, 2nd Edition.(Oxford: Westview Press, 2003),p 85.</ref> He also "had a reputation as a conciliator, "a person who could find common ground with various groups in the episcopate.""<ref>Nathaniel Davis, A Long Walk to Church: A Contemporary History of Russian Orthodoxy, 2nd Edition.(Oxford: Westview Press, 2003),p 86.</ref> Archbishishop Chrysostom (Martyshkin) remarked "With his peaceful and tolerant disposition Patriarch Aleksi will be able to unite us all."<ref>Zhurnal Moskovskoi Patriarkhii, No. 10 (October), 1990, p.16, quoted in Nathaniel Davis, A Long Walk to Church: A Contemporary History of Russian Orthodoxy, 2nd Edition.(Oxford: Westview Press, 2003),p 284.</ref> Patriarch Alexei II was "the first patriarch in Soviet history to be chosen without government pressure; candidates were nominated from the floor, and the election was conducted by secret ballot."<ref> Encyclopedia Britannica Online, s.v. Alexis II, http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9005644/Alexis-II 1/19/2008</ref>   
  
Upon taking on the role of Patriarch, Patriarch Alexei became a vocal advocate of the rights of the church, calling for the Soviet government to allow religious education in the state schools and for a “freedom of conscience” law.<ref> Encyclopedia Britannica Online, s.v. Alexis II, http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9005644/Alexis-II 1/19/2008</ref>  During the attempted coup in August 1991, he denounced the arrest of Mikhail Gorbachev, and anathematized the plotters.<ref> Encyclopedia Britannica Online, s.v. Alexis II, http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9005644/Alexis-II 1/19/2008</ref> He publicly questioned the junta's legitimacy, called for restraint by the milatary, and demanded that Gorbachev be allwed to address the people.<ref>Nathaniel Davis, A Long Walk to Church: A Contemporary History of Russian Orthodoxy, 2nd Edition.(Oxford: Westview Press, 2003),p 96.</ref> He issued a second appeal against violence and fratricide, which was amplified over loudspeakers to the troops outside the Russian "White House" half an hour before they attacked.<ref>Nathaniel Davis, A Long Walk to Church: A Contemporary History of Russian Orthodoxy, 2nd Edition.(Oxford: Westview Press, 2003),p 86.</ref> Ultimately, the coup failed, which eventually resulted in the break up of the Soviet Union.<ref>Nathaniel Davis, A Long Walk to Church: A Contemporary History of Russian Orthodoxy, 2nd Edition.(Oxford: Westview Press, 2003),p 97.</ref>  
+
Upon taking on the role of Patriarch, Patriarch Alexei became a vocal advocate of the rights of the church, calling for the Soviet government to allow religious education in the state schools and for a “freedom of conscience” law.<ref> Encyclopedia Britannica Online, s.v. Alexis II, http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9005644/Alexis-II 1/19/2008</ref>  During the attempted coup in August 1991, he denounced the arrest of Mikhail Gorbachev, and anathematized the plotters.<ref> Encyclopedia Britannica Online, s.v. Alexis II, http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9005644/Alexis-II 1/19/2008</ref> He publicly questioned the junta's legitimacy, called for restraint by the military, and demanded that Gorbachev be allowed to address the people.<ref>Nathaniel Davis, A Long Walk to Church: A Contemporary History of Russian Orthodoxy, 2nd Edition.(Oxford: Westview Press, 2003),p 96.</ref> He issued a second appeal against violence and fratricide, which was amplified over loudspeakers to the troops outside the Russian "White House" half an hour before they attacked.<ref>Nathaniel Davis, A Long Walk to Church: A Contemporary History of Russian Orthodoxy, 2nd Edition.(Oxford: Westview Press, 2003),p 86.</ref> Ultimately, the coup failed, which eventually resulted in the break up of the Soviet Union.<ref>Nathaniel Davis, A Long Walk to Church: A Contemporary History of Russian Orthodoxy, 2nd Edition.(Oxford: Westview Press, 2003),p 97.</ref>  
  
 
Under his leadership, the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia who suffered under Communism were glorified, beginning with [[Elizabeth the New Martyr|the Grand Duchess  Elizabeth]], [[Vladimir (Bogoyavlensky) of Kiev and Gallich|Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev]], and Metropolitan Benjamin of Petrograd in 1992.<ref>Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church, New Edition, (London: Penguin Books, 1997), p. 164</ref> In 2000, the All-Russian Council glorified Tsar Nicholas II and his family, as well as many other New Martyrs.<ref>Sophia Kishkovsky, [http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/05/16/europe/16russ.php?page=2 Russian Orthodox Church is set to mend a bitter schism], International Herald Tribune, May 16, 2007; [http://www.stetson.edu/~psteeves/relnews/0008f.html#31 Second day of bishops' council: Nicholas' canonization approved], Communications Service, Department of External Church Relations, Moscow Patriarchate, 14 August 2000</ref>  More names continue to be added to list of New Martyrs, after the  Synodal Canonization Commission completes its investigation of each case. <ref>Maxim Massalitin,[http://www.pravoslavie.ru/enarticles/040106180408 The New Martyrs Unify Us: Interview with Archpriest Georgy Mitrofanov, participant of the All-Diaspora Pastoral Conference in Nyack (December 8-12, 2003)], Pravoslavie.ru, December 13, 2003</ref>
 
Under his leadership, the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia who suffered under Communism were glorified, beginning with [[Elizabeth the New Martyr|the Grand Duchess  Elizabeth]], [[Vladimir (Bogoyavlensky) of Kiev and Gallich|Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev]], and Metropolitan Benjamin of Petrograd in 1992.<ref>Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church, New Edition, (London: Penguin Books, 1997), p. 164</ref> In 2000, the All-Russian Council glorified Tsar Nicholas II and his family, as well as many other New Martyrs.<ref>Sophia Kishkovsky, [http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/05/16/europe/16russ.php?page=2 Russian Orthodox Church is set to mend a bitter schism], International Herald Tribune, May 16, 2007; [http://www.stetson.edu/~psteeves/relnews/0008f.html#31 Second day of bishops' council: Nicholas' canonization approved], Communications Service, Department of External Church Relations, Moscow Patriarchate, 14 August 2000</ref>  More names continue to be added to list of New Martyrs, after the  Synodal Canonization Commission completes its investigation of each case. <ref>Maxim Massalitin,[http://www.pravoslavie.ru/enarticles/040106180408 The New Martyrs Unify Us: Interview with Archpriest Georgy Mitrofanov, participant of the All-Diaspora Pastoral Conference in Nyack (December 8-12, 2003)], Pravoslavie.ru, December 13, 2003</ref>

Revision as of 06:05, February 6, 2008

Patriarch Alexey II of Moscow and All Russia

His Holiness Patriarch Alexei II (Ridiger) of Moscow (born February 23, 1929) is the current Patriarch of Moscow and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Contents

Life and ministry

He was born as Alexei Mikhailovich Ridiger in Tallinn, Estonia, to the family of a priest. He graduated from Leningrad clerical seminary in 1949; was ordained deacon in 1950; graduated from Leningrad clerical academy in 1953. On August 14, 1961, he was chosen to be the Bishop of Tallinn and Estonia. On June 23, 1964, he was promoted to archbishop; and, on February 25, 1968, at the age of 39 to metropolitan.[1]

From 1986 until his election as Patriarch, he was Metropolitan of Novgorod and Leningrad. After the death of Patriarch Pimen in 1990 Alexei was chosen to become the new Patriarch of The Russian Orthodox Church. He was chosen on the basis of his administrative experience, and was considered "intelligent, energetic, hardworking, systematic, perceptive, and businesslike."[2] He also "had a reputation as a conciliator, "a person who could find common ground with various groups in the episcopate.""[3] Archbishishop Chrysostom (Martyshkin) remarked "With his peaceful and tolerant disposition Patriarch Aleksi will be able to unite us all."[4] Patriarch Alexei II was "the first patriarch in Soviet history to be chosen without government pressure; candidates were nominated from the floor, and the election was conducted by secret ballot."[5]

Upon taking on the role of Patriarch, Patriarch Alexei became a vocal advocate of the rights of the church, calling for the Soviet government to allow religious education in the state schools and for a “freedom of conscience” law.[6] During the attempted coup in August 1991, he denounced the arrest of Mikhail Gorbachev, and anathematized the plotters.[7] He publicly questioned the junta's legitimacy, called for restraint by the military, and demanded that Gorbachev be allowed to address the people.[8] He issued a second appeal against violence and fratricide, which was amplified over loudspeakers to the troops outside the Russian "White House" half an hour before they attacked.[9] Ultimately, the coup failed, which eventually resulted in the break up of the Soviet Union.[10]

Under his leadership, the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia who suffered under Communism were glorified, beginning with the Grand Duchess Elizabeth, Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev, and Metropolitan Benjamin of Petrograd in 1992.[11] In 2000, the All-Russian Council glorified Tsar Nicholas II and his family, as well as many other New Martyrs.[12] More names continue to be added to list of New Martyrs, after the Synodal Canonization Commission completes its investigation of each case. [13]


Despite his age, Patriarch Alexei II is quite healthy and leads an active political life. He's frequently seen on Russian TV, conducting Church services, and meeting with various government officials.

Name

His name (secular 'Алексей, clerical Алексий) is transliterated from the Cyrillic alphabet into English in various forms, including Alexius, Aleksi, Alexis, Alexei, Alexey and Alexy. When he became a monk, his name was not changed; this departure from custom was common in the Russian Church in Soviet times.'.

Criticism

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union there have been accusations that Patriarch Alexei had ties to the KGB, which resulted from documents which allegedly came from the KGB's archives in Estonia, and which refer to Patriarch Alexei with the code name "Drozdov".[14] It should be noted that it was very unusual for any person to be referenced in KGB documents prior to 1980 without a similar code name, regardless of their affiliation with the KGB. Patriarch Alexei has always denied that he was a KGB agent,[15] and the authenticity of the documents in question have been disputed on the basis on the basis that they use anachronistic fonts which did not exist at the time the document ostensibly originated from, and that the Estonian government fabricated the documents in order to discredit the Russian Orthodox Church.[16]

Professor Nathaniel Davis pointed out: "If the bishops wished to defend their people and survive in office, they had to collaborate to some degree with the KGB, with the commissioners of the Council for Religious Affairs, and with other party and governmental authorities."[17]

Patriarch Alexei has, however, acknowledged that compromises were made with the Soviet government by bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate, and publicly repented of these compromises.[18]

"Defending one thing, it was necessary to give somewhere else. Were there any other organizations, or any other people among those who had to carry responsibility not only for themselves but for thousands of other fates, who in those years in the Soviet Union were not compelled to act likewise? Before those people, however, to whom the compromises, silence, forced passivity or expressions of loyalty permitted by the leaders of the church in those years caused pain, before these people, and not only before God, I ask forgiveness, understanding and prayers."[19]

According to Nathaniel Davis, when asked by the Russian press about claims that he was a "compliant" bishop, "Aleksi defended his record, noting that while he was bishop of Tallinn in 1961, he resisted the communist authorities' efforts to make the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in the city a planetarium (which, in truth, they did do elsewhere in the Baltic states) and to convert the Pyukhtitsa Dormition nunnery to a rest home for miners."[20] Official records show that the Tallinn diocese had a lower number of forced Church closings than was typical in the rest of the USSR during Patriarch Alexei's tenure as bishop there.[21] Metropolitan Kallistos (Timothy Ware) notes, "Opinions differ over the past collaboration or otherwise between the Communist authorities, but on the whole he is thought to have shown firmness and independence in his dealings as a diocesan bishop with the Soviet State."[22]

External link

Notes

  1. Encyclopedia Britannica Online, s.v. Alexis II, http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9005644/Alexis-II 1/19/2008
  2. Nathaniel Davis, A Long Walk to Church: A Contemporary History of Russian Orthodoxy, 2nd Edition.(Oxford: Westview Press, 2003),p 85.
  3. Nathaniel Davis, A Long Walk to Church: A Contemporary History of Russian Orthodoxy, 2nd Edition.(Oxford: Westview Press, 2003),p 86.
  4. Zhurnal Moskovskoi Patriarkhii, No. 10 (October), 1990, p.16, quoted in Nathaniel Davis, A Long Walk to Church: A Contemporary History of Russian Orthodoxy, 2nd Edition.(Oxford: Westview Press, 2003),p 284.
  5. Encyclopedia Britannica Online, s.v. Alexis II, http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9005644/Alexis-II 1/19/2008
  6. Encyclopedia Britannica Online, s.v. Alexis II, http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9005644/Alexis-II 1/19/2008
  7. Encyclopedia Britannica Online, s.v. Alexis II, http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9005644/Alexis-II 1/19/2008
  8. Nathaniel Davis, A Long Walk to Church: A Contemporary History of Russian Orthodoxy, 2nd Edition.(Oxford: Westview Press, 2003),p 96.
  9. Nathaniel Davis, A Long Walk to Church: A Contemporary History of Russian Orthodoxy, 2nd Edition.(Oxford: Westview Press, 2003),p 86.
  10. Nathaniel Davis, A Long Walk to Church: A Contemporary History of Russian Orthodoxy, 2nd Edition.(Oxford: Westview Press, 2003),p 97.
  11. Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church, New Edition, (London: Penguin Books, 1997), p. 164
  12. Sophia Kishkovsky, Russian Orthodox Church is set to mend a bitter schism, International Herald Tribune, May 16, 2007; Second day of bishops' council: Nicholas' canonization approved, Communications Service, Department of External Church Relations, Moscow Patriarchate, 14 August 2000
  13. Maxim Massalitin,The New Martyrs Unify Us: Interview with Archpriest Georgy Mitrofanov, participant of the All-Diaspora Pastoral Conference in Nyack (December 8-12, 2003), Pravoslavie.ru, December 13, 2003
  14. See for example, The Wall Street Journal, 'Cold War Lingers At Russian Church In New Jersey' December 28, 2007
  15. "Official spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchy Father Vsevolod Chaplin labeled such reports as "absolutely unsubstantiated" in a Wednesday interview with Interfax. "There is no data indicating that Patriarch Alexy II was an associate of the special services, and no classified documents bear his signature," he said. "I do not think that direct dialogue between the current patriarch and KGB took place," Father Vsevolod continued. However, "all bishops communicated with representatives of the council for religious matters in the Soviet government, which was inevitable, since any issue, even the most insignificant one, had to be resolved through this body. It is quite another matter that the council forwarded all its materials to the KGB," he said." Moscow Patriarchate Rejects Times Repor of Alexy II'S Collaboration with KGB, Sept 20, 2000 (Interfax) "Chaplin, the church spokesman, said in March, "Nobody has ever seen a single real document that would confirm the patriarch used his contacts with Soviet authorities to make harm to the church or to any people in the church." Russia's Well-Connected Patriarch, Washington Post Foreign Service , 23 May 2002
  16. Alexey Chumakov Agent Drozdov?, December 28, 2007
  17. Nathaniel Davis, A Long Walk to Church: A Contemporary History of Russian Orthodoxy,(Oxford: Westview Press, 1995),p .96 Davis quotes one bishop as saying: "Yes, we -- I, at least, and I say this first about myself -- I worked together with the KGB. I cooperated, I made signed statements, I had regular meetings, I made reports. I was given a pseudonym -- a code name as they say there... I knowingly cooperated with them -- but in such a way that I undeviatingly tried to maintain the position of my Church, and, yes, also to act as a patriot, insofar as I understood, in collaboration with these organs. I was never a stool pigeon, nor an informer."
  18. Has the MP Repented?, December 28, 2007
  19. From an interview of Patriarch Alexei II, given to "Izvestia" No 137, June 10, 1991, entitled "Patriarch Alexei II: -- I Take upon Myself Responsibility for All that Happened", English translation from Nathaniel Davis, A Long Walk to Church: A Contemporary History of Russian Orthodoxy,(Oxford: Westview Press, 1995),p 89. See also History of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, by St. John (Maximovich) of Shanghai and San Francisco, December 31, 2007
  20. Nathaniel Davis, A Long Walk to Church: A Contemporary History of Russian Orthodoxy,(Oxford: Westview Press, 1995),p. 89f
  21. Nathaniel Davis, A Long Walk to Church: A Contemporary History of Russian Orthodoxy,(Oxford: Westview Press, 1995), fn. 115, p. 272
  22. Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church, New Edition, (London: Penguin Books, 1997), p. 164
Succession box:
Alexei II (Ridiger) of Moscow
Preceded by:
?
Metropolitan of Tallinn and Estonia
(Moscow Patriarchate)

1961-1986
Succeeded by:
?
Preceded by:
?
Metropolitan of Novgorod and Leningrad
1986-1990
Succeeded by:
?
Preceded by:
Pimen
Patriarch of Moscow
1990-present
Succeeded by:
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