Religious leaders react to patriarch's passing

BELGRADE, NOVI PAZAR, SARAJEVO -- In the wake of the news that His Holiness Patriarch Pavle had died, numerous leaders of religious communities in the country and region sent their condolences.

Representatives of both Islamic communities sent telegrams of condolences to the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serb Orthodox believers.

“His mission and the peace messages he was sending in the most difficult times were bringing back hope in a better future and the need in joint life and tolerance between different peoples and cultures,” said Islamic Community of Serbia head Mufti Adem Zilkić.

“I am convinced that the Serbian Orthodox Church, even after suffering this irreplaceable loss, will find strength to continue the mission of late Patriarch Pavle,” he added.

On behalf of the Serbian Meshihat, and in his name, Mufti Muhamed Jusufspahić sent his condolences to the Serbian Orthodox Church dignitaries and all the Orthodox believers.

“The faithful departed patriarch marked the time he lived in and became a symbol of the Orthodox Church and the Orthodox believer. His departure to the better world represents a great loss,” Jusufspahić wrote.

Honorary Reis-ul-Ulema of the Islamic community in Serbia Hamdija Jusufspahić sent a personal telegram of condolences to the Church and its believers.

“My friend, the faithful departed patriarch, left for the better world and left behind a fine memory and proof that great people never die. I pray to the Holy Creator for the soul of His Holiness to rest in peace,” he said.

President of the Meshihat of the Islamic Community in Serbia, Mufti Muamer Zukorlić sent his deep condolences to the Serbian Orthodox Church and all the Orthodox Christians in this region.

“This is an irreplaceable loss for the Serbian Orthodox Church, because he was a man who proved the consistency of his own spirituality and harmony between actions, words and believes, which is rare in the modern world,” he said.

“I believe that the Serbian Orthodox Church will find ways to elect a new leader who will lead it according to its goals and interests, and according to the interests of all the citizens since it is the most influential religious institution in the country,” Zukorlić added.

Head of the Islamic Community in Bosnia Mufti Mustafa Cerić also reacted to the news of Patriarch Pavle's passing, by sending his condolences to the SPC Metropolitan Dabro-Bosnian Nikolaj.

“Patriarch Pavle was respected among the Orthodox believers and advocated inter-faith dialogue, so we hope that Serbian Orthodox Church will continue that tradition to the benefit of all the people of good will who share the same history and a joint hope for a better future in this region,” the message said.

Cerić added that the Islamic Community in Bosnia-Herzegovina remained open for friendly cooperation and constructive inter-faith dialogue with the Serbian Orthodox Church and its future patriarch, "both in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia", reported a local website in Sarajevo.

In Belgrade, Serbia's Jewish Community leader Rabbi Isak Asijel said in his message that the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church was the embodiment of Biblical goodness, gentleness and compassionate love that emanated from his person and would encompass everyone in his presence.

"Archpriests, priests, monks and nuns, and the Serbian Orthodox Church worshippers, it was with pain in our souls that we received the news about the death of His Holiness our dear Patriarch Pavle," Rabbi Asijel wrote.

The message adds that the late patriarch's traits were rare, and that it is "a true blessing that even in the worst years for our common fatherland we had Patriarch Pavle as the spiritual torch-bearer for all of us equally, regardless of faith and nationality".

"On behalf of the Jewish Community of Serbia I express our deepest condolences with all of you. Your pain is our pain, your loss is our loss. The Lord is his heritage, and may his soul be tied in the Bundle of Life," said Rabbi Asijel.

On behalf of the Roman Catholic Church in Serbia, Archbishop of Belgrade Stanislav Hočevar sent his condolences to the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serb nation, expressing "pride that we lived with him".

"At the time of His Holiness Patriarch Pavle's crossing into eternity, we feel with him, with all of the SPC, with the entire Serb nation, a special closeness, love and unity," the archbishop wrote.

"While on the one hand we are expressing our deepest condolences, we are also expressing our pride at having lived with him, above all myself personally, and on behalf of the Archdiocese of Belgrade, all of the Catholic Church in Serbia, because we could communicate with him. I am particularly grateful to God that he [the patriarch] so often expressed to me his statements, thoughts, wishes and joys," said Archbishop Hočevar.