Irinej Enthroned as New Serbian Orthodox Patriarch

The new Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church has been enthroned Saturday, January 23 in Belgrade. He is (in full title) His Holiness the Archbishop of Peć, Metropolitan of Belgrade and Karlovci, Serbian Patriarch Irinej. He is open to closer relationships to the Vatican and vows to help Serbia reclaim breakaway state Kosovo.patriarch-irinej

Born Miroslav Gavrilović in August 30, 1930, the 79-year-old bishop became the 45th Patriarch and Spiritual Leader of the Eastern Orthodox Serbs, which has 11 million members worldwide. He succeeded Patriarch Pavle who died November 15. The religion’s tradition dictates that at least 40 days must pass before someone succeeds a dead patriarch.

The new leader is considered to be a moderate. He is open to modernization and is not opposed to a visit of Roman Catholic’s His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI (projected to be sometime in 2013). This could mean closer ties between the two churches.

Saturday’s service is just the first part of his enthronement. The second part will be in a historical church in Pec, in western Kosovo. No date has been set for it.

He vowed to support the government in reclaiming Kosovo, insisting that Kosovo is their Jerusalem or Holy Land. “Our first duty as a church is to safeguard our Kosovo, a holy and martyred land, to help our state to defend it from those who wish to seize it,” he said during the service.

Kosovo broke away last February 2008.