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His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and all Russia | Russian Orthodox Church | The Cathedral of Christ the Savior | Metropolitan of St.Petersburg and Ladoga Vladimir | The Metropolitanate of St.Petersburg | Alexander Nevsky Lavra | Related links

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His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and Óll Russia is the 15th primate of the Russian Orthodox Church since the patriarchal office was established in Russia in 1589. 

Patriarch Alexy (secular name Aleksey Mikhailovich Ridiger) was born on 23 February 1929 in Tallinn to a profoundly devout family. His father, Mikhail Aleksandrovich Ridiger (d. 1962), was born in St. Petersburg, studied at the Law School there and graduated from a gymnasium when in emigration in Estonia. After finishing the three-year theological courses in Tallinn in 1940, he was ordained deacon and later priest. For 16 years he was rector of the Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos in Tallinn and member and later chairman of the Diocesan Council. The Patriarch's mother, Yelena Iosifovna Pisareva (d. 1959), was born in Revel (now Tallinn). 

When a boy, he was often taken by his parents on their annual pilgrimages to the Convent of the Dormition at Pukhtitsy and the Monastery of the Dormition at Pechery near Pskov. In the late 30s, they made two pilgrimages to the Monastery of the Holy Transfiguration in Valamo Island on Ladoga Lake, which largely determined the religious way of life the future Patriarch was to choose. 

From his yearly childhood Alexy Ridiger served in the church, first under the guidance of his spiritual father, Archpriest Ioann Bogoyavlensky, later Bishop Isidor of Tallinn and Estonia (d. 1949). From 1944 to 1947 he was a senior sub-deacon under Archbishop Pavel Dmitrovsky of Tallinn and Estonia (d. 1946) and later under Bishop Isidor. He studied at a Russian secondary school in Tallinn. 

In 1945 sub-deacon Alexy was charged with preparations for re-opening the Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky in Tallinn to resume services in it after it was closed during the occupation. He served as an altar-boy and sacristan at this cathedral from May 1945 to October 1946. From 1946 he was a psalm-reader first at St. Simeon's and later at the Church of Our Lady of Kazan in Tallinn. He entered the Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) Seminary in 1947 and graduated from it with honours in 1949. During his first year at the St. Petersburg Academy, Alexy Ridiger was ordained deacon (15 April 1950) and two days later priest and was appointed rector of the Church of the Epiphany at the town of Jyhvi in the Tallinn diocese. Father Alexy graduated from the theological academy with distinction and was granted the degree of Candidate of Theology. 

On 15 July 1957 Father Alexy was appointed rector of the Cathedral of the Dormition in Tartu and dean of the Tartu church district. On 17 August 1958 he was elevated to the rank of archpriest. On 30 March 1958 he was appointed dean of the Tartu-Vilyandi deanery of the Tallinn diocese. On 3 March 1961 he professed monastic vows at the Trinity Cathedral of Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Laura. 

On 14 August 1961 hieromonk Alexy was nominated Bishop of Tallinn and Estonia and was appointed temporary administrator of the Riga diocese. On 21 August 1961 hieromonk Alexy was elevated to the rank of archimandrite. On 3 September 1961 he was consecrated Bishop of Tallinn and Estonia at St. Alexander Nevsky's Cathedral in Tallinn. 

On 14 November 1961 Bishop Alexy was appointed vice-chairman of the Department for External Church Relations. On 23 June 1964 he was elevated to the rank of archbishop. On 22 December 1964 he was appointed chancellor of the Moscow Patriarchate and became a permanent member of the Holy Synod. He occupied the post of chancellor till 20 July 1986. On 7 May 1965 Archbishop Alexy was appointed chairman of the Education Committee. He was relieved of this duty at his own request on 16 October 1986. From 1963 to 1979 he was member of the Holy Synod Commission for Christian Unity and Interchurch Relations. 

On 25 February 1968 Archbishop Alexy was elevated to the rank of metropolitan. From 10 March 1970 to 1 September 1986 Metropolitan Alexy was in charge of the Pensions Fund which ensured pensions for the clergy, widows and orphans of the clergy and staff of church organizations. On 18 June 1971 Metropolitan Alexy was granted the right to wear a second pectoral icon in recognition of the assiduous services he rendered in conducting the 1971 Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church. 

Metropolitan Alexy fulfilled important functions as member of the commissions for the 50th anniversary (1968) and the 60th anniversary (1978) of the restoration of patriarchal office in the Russian Orthodox Church and as member of the Holy Synod preparatory committee for the 1971 Local Council, chairman of the Local Council procedure group and chairman of its secretariat. From 23 December 1980 he acted as vice-chairman of the preparatory committee for the Millennium of the Baptism of Russia and chairman of its organizing sub-committee, and from September 1986 as chairman of its theological sub-committee. On 25 May 1983 he was appointed chairman of the executive committee for the restoration of St. Daniel's' Monastery and the construction of the Religious and Administrative Center of the Russian Orthodox Church in its territory. He remained in this office until he was appointed to the Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) see. On 29 June 1986 he was appointed Metropolitan of Leningrad and Novgorod and administrator of the diocese of Tallinn. 

On 7 June 1990 the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church elected him to the Patriarchal See of Moscow. His enthronement took place on 10 June 1990. 

Metropolitan Alexy's work in the international field: delegate to the 3d Assembly of the World Council of Churches in New Delhi (1961), member of the WCC Central Committee (1961-1968), president of the World Conference "Church and Society" (Geneva, Switzerland, 1966), member of the WCC Commission on Faith and Order (1964-1968), head of the Russian Orthodox delegation to the theological talks "Arnoldshain-II" with the Evangelical Church in Germany (FRG, 1962), "Zagorsk-V" with the Union of Evangelical Churches in Germany (the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Laura, 1984), and theological talks with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Finland (Leningrad, and Piukhtitsy Convent, 1989). 

For over 25 years Metropolitan Alexy dedicated his efforts to the Conference of European Churches. From 1964 he was a President (member of the Presidium of the CEC) and was re-elected as such at its subsequent General Assemblies. From 1971 he was vice-chairman of the CEC Presidium and Advisory Committee. On 26 March 1987 he was elected chairman of the CEC Presidium and Advisory Committee. He was the key-speaker on "Serving the World in the Power of the Holy Spirit" at the 8th CEC Assembly on Crete in 1979. From 1972 he was on the Joint Committee of the CEC and the Council of Bishops' Conferences in Europe of the Roman Catholic Church. He was co-moderator of the 1st European Ecumenical Assembly "Peace with Justice" that took place in Basel, Switzerland, from May 15 to 21, 1989. His term as CEC moderator expired at the 10th CEC General Assembly in September 1992. 

Metropolitan Alexy was initiator and moderator of the four seminars held for CEC member churches and other churches in the Soviet Union at the Piukhtitsy Convent in 1982, 1984, 1986 and 1989. Metropolitan Alexy was actively involved in the work of international and Russian public peace organizations.  From 1963 he was member of the Soviet Peace Fund Board. He also participated in the constituent assembly of the 'Rodina' Society which elected him to the board of the society on 15 December 1975. He was re-elected on 27 May 1981 and 10 December 1987. On 24 October 1980, he was elected vice-president of the USSR-India Society at its 5th All-Union Conference. On 11 March 1987 he was elected to the board of the Foundation for Slavonic Literature and Cultures. He was a delegate to the World Christian Conference "Life and Peace" (Uppsala, Sweden, April 1982), which elected him one of its presidents. He served on the Board of the Soviet Charity and Health Foundation from 24 January 1990 and on the presidium of the Leningrad Cultural Foundation from 8 February 1990. Nominated by the Charity and Health Foundation, he was elected a USSR People's Deputy in 1989. 

Patriarch Alexy is an honorary member of the Theological Academies in St. Petersburg. Moscow and Crete, Greece. He holds the degree of Doctor of Theology from the St.Petersburg Theological Academy (1984); Doctor of Theology 'honoris causa' from the Theological Academy in Debrezen of the Reformed Church in Hungary; from the Jan Comenius Theological Faculty in Prague, the General Seminary of the Episcopal Church in the USA (1991), St. Vladimir's Seminary in the USA (1991), St. Tikhon's Seminary in the USA (1991). In 1992 he was elected full member of the Russian Academy of Education. In 1993 he was made Doctor of Theology 'honoris causa' by the Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage, USA. He is winner of the Kulakosvky State Prize of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) "For Outstanding Services in the Consolidation of the Russian Peoples". He was made honorary professor by the Omsk State University for outstanding services in culture and education and by the Moscow State University for outstanding services in the cause of spiritual revival in Russia. In 1994 Patriarch Alexy was made honorary Doctor of Philology by St. Petersburg University (24 January); honorary Doctor of Theology by the Theological Faculty of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Belgrade (15 May); full member (academician) of the International Academy of Information Technology (Moscow, January 1996); honorary Doctor of Theology by the Tbilisi Theological Academy (Georgia, April 1996); Golden Medal holder by the Faculty of Orthodox Theology of the Kosice University (Kosice, Slovakia, May 1996), honorary member of the International Charity and Health Foundation; chairman of the Public Supervising Council for the Reconstruction of the Church of Christ the Saviour. Patriarch Alexy has been awarded many orders by Local Orthodox Churches and state orders by various countries. 

During the years of his episcopal ministry, Metropolitan Alexy has visited many dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church and many countries of the world and participated in many church events. Patriarch Alexy has published over 450 articles, addresses and papers on theology, church history, peacemaking and ecumenical and other issues in the ecclesiastical and secular press in Russia and abroad.

As Patriarch of All Russia, he has already made more than 110 pastoral visitations to different dioceses to take pastoral care of remote communities and to strengthen church unity and witness of the Church in society. Patriarch Alexy has paid great attention to the training of clergy, to religious education of laymen and moral formation of the younger generation. To this end, he gave his blessing to the opening of theological seminaries, colleges and parish schools and to the establishment of structures for religious education and catechization. In 1995, the development of church life allowed the Church to come closer to the restoration of its missionary structure. 

Patriarch Alexy pays considerable attention to the establishment of new relations between church and state in Russia. He firmly adheres to the principle of separation and non-interference between church and state. At the same time, he believes that the soul-saving ministry of the Church and the social service of the state require free interaction between ecclesiastical, public and state institutions. Due to the adoption of the new laws on the freedom of conscience and on religious organizations, in the development of which Patriarch Alexy was actively involved in the late 80s (at present he follows closely the preparation of bills, making comments on them), the Church has regained the opportunity for engaging not only in catechetical and religious-educational efforts, but also for carrying out charitable work in hospitals, houses for the elderly and penitentiary institutions. 

The pastoral approach of Patriarch Alexy has helped to relieve tension in relations between the state system of museums and preservation of monuments of art in Russia and the Church caused by unjustified fears, narrow corporate or personal interests. In particular, the Patriarch has signed a number of joint documents with the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and with the leadership of certain museum compounds situated in the territories of historically and religiously significant monasteries. These documents have settled the above-mentioned problems and breathed new life into the monasteries. Patriarch Alexy has repeatedly called for close cooperation among representatives of all fields of secular and church culture. He always reminds people of the need to revive morality and spiritual culture and to overcome barriers between secular and religious cultures and between secular science and religion. Some joint documents signed by Patriarch Alexy have laid the foundation for the development of the Church's spiritual care of health institutions, as well as of servicemen and staff of the law enforcement agencies. 

In the course of political, social and economic reforms His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II has repeatedly reminded people of the priority of moral objectives over all others, of the paramount importance of the goal serving the good of society and concrete individuals in the political and financial-economic activities. 

Continuing the tradition of Christian peacemaking, His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and all Russia assumed the mission of reconciling the political passions that burst out during the socio-political crisis in Autumn 1993 in Russia, threatening to grow into a civil war. He invited the conflicting parties to negotiations and acted as mediator at them. The Patriarch came out with numerous peace initiatives with regard to the civil war in former Yugoslavia, the conflict in Nagorny Karabakh, the Chechen Republic, etc. 

A great number of new dioceses have been formed during the years of the Patriarchal ministry of the present Primate of the Ruissian Orthodox Church, thus bringing centers of religious and administrative governance closer to parishes and promoting the revival of church life in remote regions. 

As the ruling bishop of Moscow, Patriarch Alexy II pays great attention to the revival and development of internal diocesan and parish life. His efforts have offered a model for organizing diocesan and parish life in other places. 

Along with his tireless efforts to develop the internal life of the Church and to involve in it all church members without exception so that it could be truly conciliar, Patriarch Alexy pays great attention to the unity of all Orthodox Churches for the sake of their common witness to the Truth of Christ before the world. His Holiness Patriarch Alexy considers practical cooperation among various Christian confessions in alleviating the needs of the world today to be a Christian duty and the way to the fulfillment of Christ's commandment of unity.

Patriarch Alexy ceaselessly promotes peace and concord in society, which include benevolent mutual understanding and social cooperation among the followers of different religions and worldviews.

Message of His Holinness Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II to users of the Internet

Christmas Message by His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia to archpastors, pastors, the monastics and all children of the Russian Orthodox Church

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