The Life Of Aleksy II
-- Aleksy Mikahilovich Rediger was born on February 23, 1929, in the Estonian capital, Tallinn, into the family of a Russian Orthodox priest. He became a priest himself in 1953.
-- In 1990, after a series of increasingly powerful posts, he became patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, the largest and most influential in worldwide Orthodoxy, with national churches totaling some 220 million members.
-- He oversaw a major religious revival in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union, with hundreds of new churches built across the country.
-- Aleksy II stood in the way of a visit to Russia by the Polish-born leader of the Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II, reflecting annoyance at attempts by Catholics to win converts in Russia and neighboring Ukraine, which he saw as the traditional sphere of influence of the Orthodox world.
-- Since the election of Pope Benedict in 2005, relations improved and Vatican officials said they had been working toward an eventual meeting between Aleksy II and the pontiff.
-- Aleksy II moved the Orthodox Church closer to political circles and was himself a frequent visitor to the Kremlin. Vladimir Putin, as president, attended many key ceremonies led by Aleksy II.
-- Under his leadership, the church became involved in numerous business ventures, including bottled mineral water and vodka.