02/28/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Metropolitan Kirill Elected New Patriarch Of Russian Orthodox Church

The Russian Orthodox Church has overwhelmingly elected Metropolitan Kirill as its new leader, succeeding the late Patriarch Aleksy II, the shepherd of the church's rebirth following decades of militant Soviet atheism.

Kirill, the church's long-standing external relations director, defeated Metropolitan Kliment of Kaluga and Borovsk in a secret ballot by the Local Council, an electoral body made up of more than 700 clergy and laypeople from Russian Orthodox parishes across Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, and elsewhere.

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