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The Heritage of the Patriarch Aleksey II

Gabriela IONIȚĂ

For nearly two decades, the figure of Patriarch Aleksey II has been an intrinsic part of what is called Russia after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. He was the start of a new era, succeeding a revival of the Russian Church, the reintegration of its social agenda and a recovery of its influence abroad. He was an active presence in the life of social, cultural and even political life of Russia, was an image so prominent a Church that a pastor that time after His Beautitude was difficult to conceive.

Maybe that is why news of his death seemed at a first reading (and not to me only) slightly improbable. Little while ago, he was in Munich, Germany on a missionary quest. Moreover, the day before he participated in the opening of a liturgy together with the Holy Father Nicholas of metropolitan Metropolitanate Mesoghiei (Greece), who was visiting Moscow.
So the Assumption of his deaths initiated a number of speculations in the press (about a possible accident, a cancer or an older heart disease carefully hidden from public). Discussions and various allegations or insinuations that have constantly been aired within times regarding the controversial Patriarch Aleksei II reappeared fast. Was Russia's first post-Soviet Orthodox leader a KGB agent? It’s possible. Ultimately, faces of the Church from all the countries of the European communist bloc collaborated with the repression government of the time, in the belief that their duty is to save something of the Church’s being. It is the duty of historians to decide this and to what extent this has had an impact positive or negative. Resumption of the talks right near the high priest’s coffin has done nothing else but to demonstrate once again that we have become deprived of the basic and traditional sense which tells us that "about the dead, only good things."
I think that more important than the details of his death are the consequences arising out of here. The death of the Head of Russian Orthodox Church, Aleksy II, is the end of an era and that is why a propitious moment for reflection on what has happened in post-Soviet Russia, with its arrival at the head of the Russian Church in 1990. In many ways, his destiny and Russia are organically intertwined, I could say.
The 90s have meant a time of hope and fear anxiety for Russia. The fall of communism has brought a breath of freedom and the terrifying economic downturn. It was a time of stiff fight between new ideas and old mentalities. Russian Orthodox Church, exhausted by the opression in Soviet times, when it had been almost reduced to silence, tried under the guidance of Patriarch Aleksei II and found a place and a goal of their own. The name of His Beautitude links reconstruction and restoration of Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, who played his greatness. And, perhaps the most important success was a historical reunification of the Church with its Abroad Russian Orthodox Church, on 17 May 2007, putting an end to the 80 years schism which dates from the Bolshevik revolution in 1917. Thus, the Church was formalized in a key of the Russian Federation and religious values have returned to public life, not without controversy.
Patriarch Aleksey was a conservative, a fierce supporter of the old dogmatism as source of the Church, not the few times has he been accused of losing touch with the new and modern times. In a time when there were more extensive talks about religious unity, in which all religions and related institutions around the world had noticeably improved relations with the Vatican (especially during Pope John Paul II), the Russian Church continued to have a reserved attitude, and things seemed to get worse when Patriarch Aleksei II accused the Catholic Church of proselytizing in the territory of Russia. Things seem to be improved after the enthronement of Pope Benedict XVI, but at a level minor compared with the Orthodox sister churches of Europe.
His nationalism was sometimes regarded as a nostalgic tribute towards imperial mentality. For Orthodox Patriarch Aleksei II mean the essence of Russia. Many cults have complained for over the past 18 years that they were restricted the right to freedom of association and expression, thing sustained by the reports of the U.S. State Department of religious freedom.
Relations with the Romanian Orthodox Church were not exactly happy. The Patriarch of Russia, Aleksei II, has qualified the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church which decided in October 2007 to reactivate the three dioceses in Moldova, as "anti  canonical", "interference in the territory of an autocephalous Orthodox churches, as is indignant at the time in a communicate to the Presidency of Moldova. In fact it is known that, beyond the diplomatic official statements, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Curch, His Beautitude Father Daniel was never well seen by the Russian Patriarch, probably because of his vision for reforming and modernizing the opening of the church in accordance with the requirements of the new millennium.
What will change with the arrival of a new Patriarch in Moscow related to the sister churches? Will something change in optical Russian Church on its policies even at her home? Patriarch Aleksey II has brought back the leadership of the church along with the country after 70 years of atheism, has witnessed the conservation and development as equal partner of the state. Moreover, as very well known, the Russian church has its policy on supporting the Kremlin in extension of the territories of the Russian Federation and abroad. Let us remember that the late Patriarch Aleksei II, friend of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, said the enthronement of President Medvedev that the Putin-Medvedev tandem is a blessing for Russia. Or that in his last interview given to TV Channel News, he stigmatized the "criminal" Saakashvili, the conflict in South Ossetia and approved the force intervention of the Russian troops. But even if the number of churches has increased noticeably in the Russian Federation, not the same thing happened with the faith, a sign that its policies and association with conservative politics were not much like the average Russian people. According to the Department of State USA on Report of Religious Freedom 2008, of the 142 million people (as is currently Russia's population), Orthodox Christians number is 100 million, but only a very small part of their current the activities of a religious.
About the current favorite candidates for the position of Patriarch of Russia, Mitropolit Kiril the "foreign minister" of the Patriarchate and the interim leadership of ROC (Russian Orthodox Church), Mefody, mitropolit of Voronetz and Lipetsk, Klement, Mitropolit of Kaluga and Borovsk little is currently known. Metropolitan Kiril is considered to be the opposite of the other two. Russian media speaks of exceptional quality, a modern thinker, an open mind and without prejudices. Moreover, the Russian Church attempts to create their own business to self, as the Western model, are linked to his name. To these are added to an impressive portfolio of external relations. Metropolitan Mefody is the curator of main projects the Russian Patriarchate and is recognized for its close relations with the Kremlin. Metropolitan Klement is currently Patriarchate property manager and member of the Russian Public Chamber. Who is able to go beyond the legacy left by Patriarch Aleksei? To what extent will any attend a change of vision or the continuation of the existing? Difficult to specify. Only time will tell. Moreover, sources from the Russian Church said that it is not excluded to appear, and other names on the list mentioned above. According to the Charter of Moscow Patriarchate, the Russian Church Holy Synod has 6 months to elect a new Patriarch.
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