вторник, 27 января 2009 г.

Filaret withdraws candidacy for Russian patriarch, backs Kirill


MOSCOW, January 27 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Orthodox Church Metropolitan Filaret has withdrawn his candidacy for the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, declaring his support for Metropolitan Kirill, the Moscow Patriarchy said Tuesday.

"Metropolitan Filaret withdrew his candidacy. He called on those who voted for him at the Council of Bishops and wanted to do so at the Local Council to give their votes to Metropolitan Kirill," Patriarchy spokesman Father Vladimir Vigilyansky said.

A council of electors, which includes clergy, political figures and businessmen, gathered in Moscow on Tuesday to choose a new Russian Orthodox Church leader.

The 711-member group convened for a three-day session to elect a successor to Patriarch Alexy II, who died in December aged 79 after leading the revival of the world's largest Orthodox church since 1990. This is the first election of a patriarch since the breakup of the atheist Soviet Union.

Observers and some electors expect a new patriarch to be named as soon as Tuesday evening, as a vote was scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Moscow time (14:30 GMT).

"This is the general feeling," said Bishop Ilarion of Vienna and Austria, a Church representative at European international organizations. "If the election takes place in the first round, we will know the new patriarch's name on Tuesday night."

The church's interim leader, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, was the leading candidate even before Filaret withdrew. The remaining candidate on the shortlist is Metropolitan Kliment of Kaluga and Borovsk.

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