MOSCOW (AP) — In a somber service that echoed with ancient chants, Russia paid final tribute Tuesday to Patriarch Alexy II, who rebuilt the dominant Orthodox Church after 70 years of Communist repression but was sometimes criticized for forging close ties to the Kremlin.
White-robed priests, government officials and two relatives of the last czar stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the crowd that thronged the soaring Christ the Savior Cathedral for a six-hour service for Alexy, who died Friday at age 79. He was later buried in a marble sarcophagus at the Epiphany Cathedral across town.
"We are burying a great man, a great son of our nation, a beautiful holy fruit grown by our Russian church," said the Rev. Dmitry Smirnov, a Moscow archpriest. "Our whole nation has been orphaned."