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Russia’s new patriarch seen as modernizer

Metropolitan Kirill, elected on Tuesday as the new leader of 165 million Russian Orthodox believers, is seen as a modernizer who may thaw long icy ties with the Catholic Church.

The first Patriarch elected since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Kirill, 62, replaces Alexiy II, a conservative credited with reviving the Church and transforming its place in Russian society before his death from illness last month.

Kirill’s tenure as the 16th Russian Orthodox Patriarch is likely to be defined by his relations to two powerful institutions: the Kremlin and the Catholic Church.

“Kirill is probably more sympathetic to improving relations with the Vatican,” said Professor John Anderson, an expert on Russian Orthodoxy at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

“He also has to watch what he says” considering how conservative the rest of the Church is, he added.

Full story at Reuters.

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