WORLD : Russian Orthodox Patriarch Dies
Patriarch Pimen, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church who presided over the faith’s reawakening after decades of repression, died today at the age of 79, Tass reported.
No cause of death was given in the terse announcement. In recent years, Pimen rarely celebrated services because of his increasing frailty.
Pimen, as patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, led tens of millions of believers in the officially atheist Soviet Union.
After a historic meeting with President Mikhail S. Gorbachev in 1988--the year the church celebrated the 1,000th anniversary of its founding in Russia--Pimen praised the Soviet leader’s reform efforts toward religion.
Under Pimen’s leadership, the Russian Orthodox Church supported official Soviet policies, especially the leadership’s pronouncements on peace and nuclear disarmament.
The church carefully remained in the sphere that was left for it: the spiritual development of individual believers.