|Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew greets Patriarch Aleksy II of Moscow during one of their final meetings at the Phanar for the October Synaxis of the world's Orthodox Church leaders. (Photo by N. Manginas)|
Upon hearing the news of the falling asleep of Patriarch Aleksy II of Moscow and All Russia, His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew sent the following message of condolence to the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate:
We offer on behalf of the Mother Church our warmest condolences to the sister Holy Church of Russia upon the falling asleep of her Primate Patriarch Aleksy of blessed memory, who was our beloved brother and concelebrant. We pray with all our heart for the resting of his soul in a place among the living and that Christ may reveal a worthy successor to lead your Holy Church. May his memory be eternal!
Brotherly in Christ,
+ Bartholomew of Constantinople
On Friday afternoon, December 5, the Ecumenical Patriarch offered a memorial service to the late Primate, following the celebration of Great Vespers for the feast of St. Nicholas.
|Nuns offer prayers for the repose of Patriarch Aleksy during a memorial service. (Photo from patriarchia.ru)|
At the conclusion of the service, His All Holiness addressed the faithful, recalling that "sometimes there was tension between us, and we did not have the same opinion on various questions concerning the Orthodox Church." His All Holiness added, "when I went [to Ukraine] to participate in the celebration of the 1020 years of the Christianization of the Russian people, after the celebration of the liturgy and after the official lunch, we had a long and productive meeting, in which [Aleksy] told me that he felt his end approaching, and that we had to work to reestablish peace within the Church. He told me that he might not be able to come to the pan-Orthodox meeting last October. In spite of his dour predictions, and disobeying the orders of his own doctors, Patriarch Aleksy came to the meeting because he had a strong desire to add his signature to the important final document of the pan-Orthodox meeting, which constitutes the reply of the entire Orthodox Church to the challenges of the contemporary world. With this signature, he left an indelible mark of his testimony."
"Dear brother," Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew concluded, "may your memory be eternal, and we pray that the Holy Spirit may help the Russian Church to provide a worthy successor to you."
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, together with His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America, have departed for Moscow to attend the funeral, which is to be held on Tuesday, December 9, 2008, at 11:00 am (Moscow time) in Christ the Savior Cathedral, with burial in the Epiphany Cathedral. Other members of the delegation will include Metropolitan Germanos of Tranoupolis, the Very Reverend Grand Archdeacon Maximos, the Very Reverend Grand Ecclesiarch Fr. Benjamin, Archdeacon Panteleimon, and Mr. Nikolaos Manginas, journalist and photographer.