Alexei II (Ridiger) of Moscow

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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.

Life and Ministry

He was born as Alexey 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 Alexius 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 Alexius 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]

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.


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.'.


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".[6] 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, 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.[7] 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.[8]

External link


  1. Encyclopedia Britannica Online, s.v. 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, qouted 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, 1/19/2008
  6. See for example, The Wall Street Journal, 'Cold War Lingers At Russian Church In New Jersey' December 28, 2007
  7. Alexey Chumakov Agent Drozdov?, December 28, 2007
  8. Has the MP Repented?, December 28, 2007
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Alexei II (Ridiger) of Moscow
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Patriarch of Moscow
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