Languages
Page last updated at 22:34 GMT, Sunday, 25 January 2009

Russia patriarch shortlist agreed

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexiy II in Moscow, 12 September 2008
Patriarch Alexiy II enjoyed close relations with the Kremlin

Senior members of the Russian Orthodox Church have drawn up a shortlist of three contenders to succeed Patriarch Alexiy II, who died last year.

Among the three is the interim leader Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, known to millions through a weekly TV broadcast.

A full Church council, which included lay people, will choose a new patriarch from among the three by Thursday.

It is the first election of a patriarch since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Alexiy II steered the Church through the transition from communist rule, when Russia was officially atheist.

He died on 5 December at the age of 79.

His successor will lead a growing Church of around 165 million followers, including nearly 70% of Russia's population.

Moral authority

Senior Church leaders gathered in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour on Sunday to begin deliberations about who should hold one of Christianity's most senior roles.

Analysts say Metropolitan Kirill is the favourite to succeed Alexiy II, while his main rival is said to be Metropolitan Kliment of Kaluga and Borovsk.

Metropolitan Kirill (left) and Metropolitan Kliment (file)
Metropolitans Kirill (left) and Kliment are said to be the main contenders

Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and Slutsk was the third man to make the final shortlist.

BBC religious affairs correspondent Christopher Landau says the new patriarch will have to decide how close the Church should be to the political establishment.

He must also consider relations with other churches, especially the strained relationship with the Roman Catholic Church, our correspondent says.

Alexiy II became the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1990, shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union.

He was credited with helping restore the moral authority of the Church after decades of repression under communism.

He insisted on his Church's right to be the sole national church of Russia, bringing its scattered branches back under the control of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Alexiy II also moved the Church closer to political circles, often visiting the Kremlin and aligning himself with its foreign policy stances.

Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Russians repair Orthodox schism
17 May 07 |  Europe
In pictures: Russia reburies empress
28 Sep 06 |  In Pictures
Country profile: Russia
06 Jan 09 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Russia
06 Jan 09 |  Country profiles

RELATED BBC LINKS

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific