From the web site of the Moscow Patriarchate :
His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, 79, died on 5 December 2008.
Session of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church will take place on December 6 to elect Patriarchal Locum Tenens who will chair the Memorial Commission.
The Holy Synod will announce the time of the funeral of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy.
Metropolitan PHILIP writes to the U.S. Representative of the Russian Orthodox Church in the U.S.:
Beloved Brother in Christ:
I greet you in the name of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ who is the Resurrection and the Life of all who repose in him.
It is with great sadness that I awoke this morning to the shocking news of the passing into eternal life of His Holiness ALEXY II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. The loss of this great man is not only a loss for the Church of Russia, but for the entire Orthodox world. I recall with great fondness the two occasions I had to be in his presence, once on his visit to the United States in the early 1990s when we hosted him at our Archdiocese Chancery and the second when I accepted his kind invitation to visit Russia in 1997. It was during this trip in 1997 that I came to realize the greatness of his leadership and vision for the Church of Russia and the Orthodox world at large. Having met with him at the Danielov Monastery and having served with him in the historic Dormition Cathedral in the Kremlin and again at the dedication of the awe-inspiring Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow (that he was instrumental in rebuilding as a symbol of the resurrection of the Russian Orthodox Church after more than 70 years of oppression), I felt assured that the Church would continue to thrive under his leadership.
Patriarch ALEXY lived in two worlds, one under the Soviet oppression of the Church and the other whereby he led the Church from glory to glory after the fall of Soviet rule. I have no doubt that this will be his legacy. The courage he showed by leading the nation through a difficult time that could have led to civil war when he addressed the country in the midst of the night, in the midst of darkness at 1:42 a.m. on August 21st, 1991 will stand out as one of the greatest addresses of the 20th Century. Out of this darkness, his address to the nation became a new light of hope for a new nation.
Like the captain of a great ship, he guided the Russian Orthodox Church through troubled waters, rejecting those who would take the Church backwards to pre-revolutionary monarchist times, and at the same time rejecting those who would liberalize the Church and make it something other than it had always been. At the same time, he capably oversaw the rebuilding and restoration of thousands of churches and monasteries, the reeducation of the faithful and the clergy and the reestablishment of the Church as a great force in the Russian Federation. His untiring work which led to the reunification of ROCOR and the Russian Orthodox Church is yet another example of his bold leadership.
Personally, I had the greatest respect for him on the level of international Orthodox relations. He adhered to and respected the canonical norms for territorial boundaries of sister churches and dealt pastorally with the uncanonical situation that we have here in North America and other places. While he often faced resistance, he led with integrity and love. As the leader of more than 100 million Orthodox believers, in my eyes, he was the true leader of the Orthodox world.
On behalf of our Local Synod and all the clergy and faithful of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, please accept our sincere condolences. We ask that you extend our prayers and sympathies to His Eminence Metropolitan KIRILL and the Department of External Church Relations and the entire Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, praying that in the midst of this sad time, another great leader will arise from the depths of your sorrow and lead this great and venerable church to new heights.
Your brother in Christ,
For information on memorial services and further news, please consult the OCA web site .