Russian Orthodox Christians flocked to pay tribute to Patriarch Alexiy II on Sunday as he lay in state in a Moscow cathedral, thanking him for the revival of the faith after decades of communist repression. Alexiy II, enthroned in 1990 a year before the demise of the Soviet Union, died of heart failure on Friday. He was 79.
Reviving Russia's main faith, he oversaw the construction of thousands of new churches and raised the prominence of Orthodoxy across the vast nation by building closer ties with the Kremlin.
During his 18 years as leader of the world's largest Orthodox church, Alexiy helped heal an 80-year rift with a rival faction of the church in the West which had been set up by monarchists fleeing the atheist Bolsheviks.
If communism was so great, why did the Church in the Soviet Union suffer so much? That's an interesting question for those who try to harmonize Orthodoxy with Marx.