ROME, Dec. 5 -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says he has canceled a trip to Italy because of the death of Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Alexy II.
Medvedev told Italian President Giorgio Napolitano he would be traveling from India to Moscow to honor the memory of Alexy, who died Friday at the age of 79, the Italian news agency, ANSA, reported.
The Russian church has received condolences from Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church despite past tensions that existed between the two religious groups.
A temporarily patriarch will be chosen Saturday by the Holy Synod of Russian Orthodox Church, Kommersant said. The newspaper said a new patriarch should be elected by May 2009.