Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Dies From COVID-19

Serbian Patriarch Irinej, Who Contracted COVID-19, Dies Aged 90

Serbian Patriarch Irinej, Who Contracted COVID-19, Dies Aged 90

In a statement, the Serbian Orthodox Church said the Patriarch "rested with the Lord" and that the public would be informed about the details of the funeral in due course.

The government declared three days of national mourning.

Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Irinej has died aged 90, after complications related to COVID-19.

Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic was also in attendance.

At that funeral, thousands of mourners, majority with no masks or keeping any distance between each other, gathered in the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica on November 1, in violation of coronavirus-fighting measures proclaimed by the small Adriatic state's authorities.

Since Amfilohije's death, and the hospitalization of the patriarch, Serbian priests have started to appeal for their parishioners to take the deadly virus seriously. Many had previously downplayed the threat of the global pandemic. "The likes of you never go away", Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic wrote on Instagram.

In a letter of condolence, Russian President Vladimir Putin praised Irinej's "efforts aimed at promoting high spiritual values and strengthening the unity of the Orthodox world".

The country of 6.9million recorded 6,109 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing its total to more than 104,000.

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Global trials are expected to begin in Uzbekistan late this month , followed by trials in Indonesia, Pakistan and Ecuador. The Oxford study was briefly suspended in September because of an unexplained illness in a volunteer.

Irinej had served as the leader of the Serbian Church since January 2010.

But throughout his church reign, he maintained the hardline nationalist stance the church developed during the wars that cleaved the Balkans in the 1990s. The church has around 12 million followers, mainly in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia, and dioceses in the United States, Australia and Western Europe.

This was reflected in his relationships with other Orthodox Christian Churches, maintaining closer relations with Russian Federation and other Slavic allies and alienating himself and the Serbian Church from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Orthodox believers, respecting epidemiological measures, pay their respects to the deceased head of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The predominantly ethnic Albanian territory is home to important SPC monasteries and churches, and Irinej even threatened violence if holy sites were recognised as belongings of the breakaway territory.

Irinej, however, was among the rare Serbian church dignitaries who openly called for improved ties with the Roman Catholic Church.

The Orthodox Churches split from the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church in the 11th century in an event called the Great Schism.

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