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  Monday, January 27, 2020
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President Vladimir Putin congratulated the patriarch on his 75th birthday and 14th anniversary of his enthronisation
President Vladimir Putin presented the order For Services to the Homeland, 1st Class, to Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia. During the ceremony in the St Catherine Hall of the Kremlin today, the President congratulated the patriarch on his 75th birthday and 14th anniversary of his enthronisation. "You became the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church at a difficult stage in Russian history," said Putin. "Since then, you have bearing honourably the burden of spiritual assistance to the people, reviving the public spirit and strengthening the country. I hope you will continue to work energetically to the benefit of the people and the country." The Patriarch assured the President that the Church would continue to serve the people and the homeland. He said he viewed the high decoration as recognition of the contribution of the Russian Orthodox Church, its episcopate, the clergy, monks and nuns, and believers to the spiritual revival of Russia. "I view [the decoration] as the state's recognition of the contribution of the Russian Orthodox Church to peace, accord and mutual understanding among nations," said Alexy II. "Throughout its 1,000-year history, the Church has always been at one with the people and took an active part in state development. We are using non-political methods today to help strengthen the Russian state, educating the believers in the spirit of respect for the authorities and the Homeland, in the spirit of accord between different nations and religions." "The Russian Orthodox Church will continue to act in this spirit," he assured the President. "God willing, the Church will work persistently and consistently to serve the people and the Homeland, to strengthen Orthodoxy and the moral and spiritual core of the people." "God be with you and your pioneering efforts and with your staff, because ruling a multinational and polyconfessional country at this difficult time is not an easy task," said the Patriarch. "We are aware of this and we pray to God to give you strength in your service to the Homeland and the people." Alexy II pointed out that he, the members of the Holy Synod, his closest vicars and mothers superior of nunneries, who had been invited to the Kremlin ceremony, would work without respite for the benefit of the Homeland and its spiritual and moral revival. On June 10, Alexy II celebrated the 14th anniversary of his enthronisation and his 75th birthday (the celebration of his birthday was postponed from February 23 because of Lent). Alexy II, born Alexei Ridiger, is the 15th Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church since patriarchy was introduced in Russia in 1589. He was born on February 23, 1929 in Tallinn in a family of sincere believers. His parents annually made pilgrimages to monasteries, which largely predetermined Alexei's choice in life. Since his early childhood, he wanted to become a priest and knew the mass by heart and helped during church service when he was nine. When he was a first-year student at the St Petersburg Seminary (1950), Alexei Ridiger was ordained deacon, became a priest later and was given a post in the Church of the Epiphany in the town of Iyhvi of the Tallinn diocese. In 1953, he graduated from the Theological Academy with distinction and was granted the title of candidate of Theology. In March 1961, he professed monastic vows and in August was made the Bishop of Tallinn and Estonia. In July 1964, he was elevated to the rank of archbishop and was appointed chancellor of the Moscow Patriarchy and permanent member of the Holy Synod in December. Archbishop Alexy was elevated to the rank of metropolitan in February 1968 and appointed metropolitan of Leningrad and Novgorod and administrator of the Tallinn diocese in June 1986. Metropolitan Alexy worked energetically in international affairs of the Church, taking an active part in the conferences of European Churches and in international and Russian peacekeeping public organisations. He was elected people's deputy of the Soviet Union from the Charity and Health Foundation in 1989. On June 7, 1990, the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church elected him to the Patriarchal See of Moscow in the Holy Trinity-St Sergius Laura. His enthronement took place in the Cathedral Church of the Epiphany of the Moscow Kremlin. During his patriarchy, the Church regained the possibility to engage in religious education and charity, to serve people in hospitals, nursing homes and prisons. Many new dioceses were created, many churches, monasteries and nunneries were restored and built, and over 100 seminaries opened. On May 24, 2004, Patriarch Alexy II was presented the UN champion of justice order and the order of Peter the Great, 1st Class, for his outstanding services to peace, friendship and mutual understanding between nations.
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