12/05/2008, 00.00
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Extraordinary session of holy synod for post-Alexy II

Members of the synod must select a leader for the period during which the patriarchal see is unoccupied. Rumors in the patriarchate point to Metropolitan Kirill, head of the department for external relations, or Kliment, chancellor of the patriarchate, as possible successors. But the possibility of an outsider cannot be ruled out. The election of the successor to Alexy II must take place within six months.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - An extraordinary session of the holy Orthodox synod has been called for tomorrow, Saturday, December 6. After the death of Patriarch Alexy II, the bishops under the leadership of Moscow have been called to decide who will lead the Church during the period before the election of the new patriarch. The news of Alexy II's death was released this morning. He died of a heart attack. The funeral is expected to be held on December 7.

News of the convocation of the synod came from Bishop Mark, the deputy for Metropolitan Kirill in the department of external relations at the patriarchate. The details regarding the election of Alexy II's successor will be decided by the person selected tomorrow from among the members of the holy synod.

According to the constitution of the Orthodox Church, the regent must convene a synod within six months with all of the bishops of the Russian Church, to elect the successor to Alexy II.

Russian sources tell AsiaNews that the patriarch's lengthy illness has already created different fronts and possible candidates within the Orthodox hierarchy. The names most frequently cited are those of Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk, currently the head of the department for external relations at the patriarchate, and Bishop Kliment, metropolitan of Kaluga and Borovsk and chancellor of the patriarchate.

The appointment of the interim regent could offer an early indication of the predominant approach within the patriarchate. Sources for AsiaNews do not, however, exclude the possibility that a third candidate could emerge from between the two fronts already established.

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