Metropolitan Kirill has been elected head of the Russian Orthodox Church
- Metropolitan Kirill elected, received 508 votes
22:25 | 27/ 01/ 2009
MOSCOW, January 27 (RIA Novosti) - Metropolitan Kirill has been elected head of the Russian Orthodox Church, becoming the 16thPatriarch of Moscow and All Russia.
Kirill received 508 votes, and the second candidate, Metropolitan Kliment of Kaluga and Borovsk - 169 votes. A total of 700 ballots were cast in the vote, with 23 recognized as invalid.
The Local Council, which is a council of bishops, priests, monks and laymen, including political figures and businessmen, gathered in Moscow earlier on Tuesday to elect the new Russian Orthodox Church leader.
The 700-plus-member group convened for a session to elect a successor to Patriarch Alexy II, who died in December at the age of 79 after leading the revival of the world's largest Orthodox church since 1990. This was the first election of a patriarch since the breakup of the atheist Soviet Union.
Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, who was the Russian Church's interim leader since the death of Alexy II, was the leading candidate on a shortlist that included two other hierarchs chosen in a secret ballot by the Council of Bishops on Sunday.
Kirill, 62, in charge of the church's external relations, has led dialogue with the Vatican, a sensitive issue for the two churches, which split almost 1,000 years ago. He is well-known in Russia through his weekly television program and frequent public appearances.
Kirill received the most votes, 97, in Sunday's ballot.
The other candidates on the shortlist were Metropolitan Kliment with 32 votes, and Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and Slutsk, who received 16 votes. They are seen more as traditionalists. Filaret earlier on Tuesday withdrew his candidacy, urging the electors to vote for Kirill.
The Church Council session is taking place in the sumptuous Christ the Savior Cathedral with clergy clad in ceremonial robes. Streets around the cathedral in central Moscow have been closed to traffic.
The new Russian patriarch is expected to be enthroned on Sunday and his term of office is lifelong.