Moscow, July 31, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church has expressed its condolences over the death of Patriarch Teoctist I of Romania.
"He was a wise pastor of the Romanian people who shared in their difficulties in the period of restrictions and the domination of atheist ideology, and who later led the Romanian Church with dignity throughout the adversities of the period of great political and social changes," Archpriest Nikolay Balashov, secretary of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, told Interfax on Monday.
The Romanian people "loved and deeply respected their Patriarch," he said.
Teoctist died of a heart attack on Monday at the age of 92 after undergoing an operation at Bucharest's Fundeni hospital.
The archpriest called the death of the Romanian Patriarch "a big loss for the universal Orthodoxy", and characterized him as a "veteran of an inter-church and inter-religious dialogue," in which he actively participated for many decades.
Teoctist was a person, "who knew and loved Russia, which he had visited many times," the Moscow Patriarchate official said.
"The late Patriarch's wisdom combined with love of life and interest in people. His meeting with Patriarch Alexy was a meeting between long-time friends," Father Nikolay said.