Believers Take to Serbian Capital for Funeral of Patriarch

Serbs lined the streets of Belgrade to pay homage to the late Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Irinej for his funeral on Sunday, despite the spike in COVID-19 infections across the country.

Irinej tested positive for the coronavirus and was admitted to hospital in Belgrade on November 4. His condition worsened on November 15 and he passed away on November 20, aged 90.

Metropolitan Hrizostom of Dabar-Bosna, the Serbian Church's senior bishop in Bosnia and Herzegovina, presided over the service, which many politicians attended.

They included Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic, Serbian PM Ana Brnabic, Milorad Dodik, the President of the Serb-dominated Bosnian entity, Republika Srpska, Montenegrin Prime Minister-designate Zdravko Krivokapic, as well as other Montenegro politicians like Andrija Mandic and Marko Milacic.

Church officials urged mourners to enter and exit the St Sava Church quickly and to wear masks.

Metropolitan Hrizostom said in his sermon that Irinej had "worked tirelessly and took care of the Church, suffering and mourning the latest schisms and divisions in our Orthodoxy".

"For 10 years, as Patriarch, he led us quietly, wisely and patiently towards the kingdom of heaven," Hrizostom said, and added: "Despite all the temptations and troubles that the church went through, it remained the unshakable pillar."

The Bishop of Backa called the late Patriarch " a man of peace", dismissing unfounded criticism of his life and work.

"Some have said and written, to their shame, that he was not modern enough, that he did not have feeling for modern man. Others, that he was very rigid and intolerant, which is attributed to all of us as the Church, and a third group that he was too lenient and ready for 'rotten...

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