Moscow, December 6, Interfax - Kirill, the Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, was elected on Saturday as the interim head of the Russian Orthodox Church after Patriarch Alexy II died on Friday.
Kirill, 62, was elected at an urgent meeting of the Holy Synod at the countryside patriarchal residence in Peredelkino outside Moscow, the External Church Relations Department of the Moscow Patriarchate told the Interfax-Religion.
The metropolitan will remain locum tenens up until the election of the new Patriarch that cannot be called earlier than in six months' time.
Metropolitan Kirill (secular name Vladimir Mikhailovich Gundyaev) was born in Leningrad (now St.Petersburg) on 20 November 1946 into the family of a priest.
After graduation from the secondary school he entered the Leningrad Theological Seminary in 1965 and then the Leningrad Theological Academy, which he finished in 1970.
Tonsured by Metropolitan Nikodim (Rotov) of Leningrad and Novgorod with monastic name of Kirill on 3 April 1969, ordained hierodeacon on April 7 and hieromonk on June 1 that same year.
1970-71 - lecturer of dogmatic theology, assistant inspector of the Leningrad Theological Academy and Seminary, private secretary of Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad and Novgorod and form-master of the 1st class of the Seminary.
Elevated to the rank of Archimandrite on 12 September 1971.
1971-74 - representative of the Moscow Patriarchate at the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva.
26 December 1974 to 26 December 1984 - Rector of the Leningrad Theological Academy and Seminary.
Consecrated Bishop of Vyborg on 14 March 1976 and elevated to the rank of Archbishop on 2 September 1977.
Appointed Bishop of Smolensk and Vyazma on 26 December 1984 and Administrator of the parishes in the Kaliningrad diocese in 1986.
1988 to the present day - Archbishop of Smolensk and Kaliningrad.
13 November 1989 to the present day - chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate (DECR MP) and permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.
25 February 1991 - elevated to the rank of Metropolitan.
At present Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad is Permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church from 1989; Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate from 1989; Honorary President of the World Conference on Religion and Peace from 1994; Member of the Presidium of the Interreligious Council of Russia from 1998.