VATICAN CITY — Russian Orthodox Archbishop Nikodim, an advocate of Christian unity and one of the six presidents of the World Council of Churches, died [this morning] of a heart attack during an audience with Pope John Paul I. The new pontiff gave him absolution and a final blessing.
He had just conveyed his congratulations to the pope when he slumped in his chair in the pontiff’s private library. An aide dashed to bring pills from the Russian churchman’s attaché case and a doctor was summoned. But Nikodim, who had survived five previous heart attacks, succumbed. The pope then administered the last rites, officials said.Pope John Paul said he was “deeply moved” by Nikodim’s death and called Nikodim a “devoted servant of his church.”