Patriarch ALEXY lived in two worlds, one under the Soviet oppression of the Church and the other whereby he led the Church from glory to glory after the fall of Soviet rule. I have no doubt that this will be his legacy. The courage he showed by leading the nation through a difficult time that could have led to civil war when he addressed the country in the midst of the night, in the midst of darkness at 1:42 a.m. on August 21st, 1991 will stand out as one of the greatest addresses of the 20th Century. Out of this darkness, his address to the nation became a new light of hope for a new nation.
Like the captain of a great ship, he guided the Russian Orthodox Church through troubled waters, rejecting those who would take the Church backwards to pre-revolutionary monarchist times, and at the same time rejecting those who would liberalize the Church and make it something other than it had always been. At the same time, he capably oversaw the rebuilding and restoration of thousands of churches and monasteries, the reeducation of the faithful and the clergy and the reestablishment of the Church as a great force in the Russian Federation. His untiring work which led to the reunification of ROCOR and the Russian Orthodox Church is yet another example of his bold leadership.
Personally, I had the greatest respect for him on the level of international Orthodox relations. He adhered to and respected the canonical norms for territorial boundaries of sister churches and dealt pastorally with the uncanonical situation that we have here in North America and other places. While he often faced resistance, he led with integrity and love. As the leader of more than 100 million Orthodox believers, in my eyes, he was the true leader of the Orthodox world.
A wonderful letter, in full: HERE.