Putin, Russian Patriarch condole death of Metropolitan Laurus

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Moscow, Mar 17 (UNI) Outgoing President Vladimir Putin and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II have condolenced the death of Metropolitan Laurus, head of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR).

Metropolitan Laurus, 81, died in his monastery residence near New York yesterday.

In May last year, he had signed a historic unification act with the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow.

The document was widely seen as a milestone on the way toward overcoming a decade-long rift with the foreign-based branch.

''Metropolitan Laurus for more than a half century did his duty of an Orthodox priest with devotion and love,'' Mr Putin said in his condolence message to Alexy II.

''He had a prominent role in preparation of reunification of the Russian Orthodox Church and in the signing the Act of Canonical Communication. This historical deed will for ever remain in memory of descendants,'' the Kremlin press service quoted him as saying.

Alexy II expressed his condolence to Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany, the second deputy head of the Pontifical Synod at the ROCOR.

''The death of Metropolitan Laurus is a big loss to the entire Russian Orthodox Church. We. have a clear vision of the man as having had enough wisdom and courage to put an end to a decade-long rift between the churches," a spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchate's department of trans-Orthodox relations, Archpriest Nikolai Balashov told RIA Novosti news agency.

The ROCOR is a jurisdiction of Eastern Orthodoxy that was formed in response to the Bolshevik policy towards religion in the Soviet Union soon after the Russian Revolution of 1917.

UNI XC SLD GG1856

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