Interim Orthodox leader picked after Alexy's death
Jan 13, 2009
Metropolitan Kirill, considered a reformer in his approach to relations with the Russian government and the Roman Catholic Church, has been chosen as the interim leader of the Russian Orthodox Church following the death on December 5 of Patriarch Alexy II, who was 79.
Alexy II shepherded his church through the rubble of communism and helped the dominant church body of Russia revive to the point that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin became an open supporter this century.
Despite many overtures from Rome under Pope John Paul II, Alexy was unwilling to heal a longstanding breach with Catholics.
Kirill, 62, the Russian Orthodox leader of the provinces of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, was chosen by secret ballot by the Holy Synod, a ruling group of 12 senior clergy who met December 5 outside Moscow, Reuters reported. He leads the church’s external relations department and has appeared often on television representing the church.