Patriarch to be enthroned in Kosovo

NIŠ -- Serbian Patriarch Irinej said on Tuesday that his enthronement in the Patriarchate of Peć, in Kosovo, will be held on April 25.

Patriarch Irinej (Tanjug, file)
Patriarch Irinej (Tanjug, file)

The newly-elected head of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) has the title of Archbishop of Peć, Metropolitan of Belgrade and Karlovci, Serbian Patriarch Irinej.

“The enthronement will be on April 25, and that will also mark the beginning of work of the Assembly of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The assembly will start there, and continue in Belgrade. That will be a chance for our guests to attend, and I hope they will see for themselves the situation in Kosovo,” Irinej told reporters in Niš, southern Serbia.

“Serbs in Kosovo suffer more than ever”

In an interview for the Frankfurt-based Serbian language daily Vesti, the patriarch said that “never in the history of Kosovo have the Serbs suffered like they do now”.

“In Croatia the centuries-old problems of the Serb people continue, and in Montenegro an unjustifiable division has occurred,” said Irinej.

“Unfortunately, with this new situation, Kosovo finds itself in the hardest position in its history. The Serbs who stayed in Kosovo have endured more pain, suffering and destruction than ever before,” said the Serbian Patriarch, pointing out that the “tragedy is that the great powers are aware of this but pretend not to see it”.

The patriarch told the newspaper that the division that occurred between Serbia and Montenegro is “senseless and unreasonable” because, as he said, the Serbs and the Montenegrins are one people with common roots.

Irinej said that he does not know if the Montenegrins will realize how “senseless and unreasonable” the division is, and that this probably depends on a few powerful people.

The door of the SPC is open to “our Macedonian brothers” and to “true contact, primarily through liturgy,” the patriarch said.

Noting that the problems with the Macedonian Church are now much graver than before, the Patriarch said that the door of the SPC is open for talks and that every problem can be solved as long as both sides are willing.

Speaking of the suffering of the Serb people in Croatia, the patriarch assessed that it is “unfortunately continuing”.

The head of SPC said that he believes that “the Republic of Srpska is led by intelligent people who will find the best path in these troubled times, both for our people and for the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

He also expressed his wish that the head of the Roman Catholic Church visits Niš, because, according to him, the Edict of Milan involves the Church and Christianity as a whole, and therefore all Christian countries, history and culture.

The patriarch said he believed that Serbia will hold its central ceremony celebrating the anniversary of the Edict of Milan in 2013 in Niš, but he did not rule out the possibility that the town – the birthplace of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great – would also host the central ceremony for other European churches and countries.

“Pope Bendict XVI's visit to Niš is up to the Roman Catholic Church, but it would be welcomed by the SPC,” Irinej said.