The Pope stated in the note that he "was profoundly saddened" to hear of the patriarch's death, and that he wished to convey his "most sincere condolences" and to assure the faithful of his "spiritual closeness at this very sad time."
Alexy II, 79, who had been the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church since 1990, died today at his residence near Moscow. No cause of death was given.
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[Taylor: Let us pray for the repose of his soul. Aleksy II was a great voice in the pro-life cause and kept Orthodox attentive to the sin of contraception. May he rest and peace and may angels guide him to Father.]