Patriarch Irinej of Serbia

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Template:Infobox Christian leader and politician

Irinej (Irenaeus, Serbian Cyrillic: Иринеј, pronounced [irǐneːj]; born 28 August 1930 in Vidova near Čačak, Kingdom of Yugoslavia) was the 45th Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, politician and the spiritual leader of Eastern Orthodox Serbs, since 22 January 2010 to 2017.[1][2]


Early life[edit]

Irinej was born Miroslav Gavrilović (Мирослав Гавриловић, pronounced [mǐroslaʋ ɡaʋrǐːloʋitɕ]). After graduating from high school, he enrolled and completed Orthodox seminary in Prizren. He then enrolled the University of Belgrade's Theological Faculty and served in the army after graduating. After military service, he was tonsured a monk in 1959 in Rakovica monastery, receiving the monastic name of Irinej (from Ancient Greek: Εἰρηναῖος; Irenaeus).[3] He was a professor at Prizren Seminary, and completed postgraduate studies in Athens. In 1969, he was appointed a head of the monastic school at Ostrog monastery. He later returned to Prizren, where he was appointed Rector of the Prizren Seminary in 1969.[3]

Styles of
Priest Irinej of Serbia
Religious style Priest
Posthumous style N/A

As a religious leader and politician[edit]

In May 1974, Irinej was elected Vicar Bishop of Moravica and consecrated by Patriarch German. In May 1975, he was elected Bishop of Niš and enthroned in the Holy Trinity Cathedral (in Niš) on 15 June 1975.[3] Irinej headed the Niš eparchy for the next 35 years.

On January 22, 2010, he was elected the 45th Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church,[4][5] after the death of previous Patriarch Pavle. He was one of the three candidates with the most votes from the 45 bishops eligible in the Serbian Orthodox Church, along with former locum tenens (interim leader) Amfilohije Radović and Irinej Bulović.[6] In the final phase, his name was pulled from a sealed envelope. In this way, the Serbian Orthodox Church believes the patriarch is elected by divine intervention, sidelining human interests.[7] He was enthroned on 23 January 2010 in Belgrade's St. Michael's Cathedral.[8] Irinej was formally enthroned to the ancient throne of the Serbian Patriarch in the Patriarchate of Peć monastery on 3 October 2010.[9]

On January 28, 2010, at his first news conference, Irinej stated that "Islam’s philosophy was that Muslims, when they are in small numbers, can behave well and be fair, but that once they become superior, they start to exert pressure". The Islamic Community of Serbia (IZS) responded and sent a letter to the Serbian Orthodox Church requesting an official interpretation his statement and found the remarks to be insulting Islam. The Islamic Community in Serbia (IZuS) condemned what they called "insulting and false accusations".[10]

On October 4 2010, Patriarch Irinej said that international recognition of Kosovo was a "sin".[11]

On November 10 2010, Irinej stated in an interview that "the Drina River [between Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina] is not a border but a bridge that connects us. Although, in a way, we are one even today, God willing, we will soon really be one." Irinej elaborated that for now "it is enough that we are one as a nation, as the Orthodox Church, and that we are on the same path of St. Sava and Christ". He praised the Serbs of Banja Luka stating that "[they fight] to preserve the Serb name. Although this is not at all an easy task, they are succeeding."[12]

On December 15th 2011, the priest was decorated by His Royal Highness Prince Davit Bagration Mukhraneli Batonishvilli of Georgia with The Grand Collar of The Order of The Eagle of Georgia and The Semeless Tunic of Our Lord Jesus Christ:

Irinej has been considered, both abroad and at home, as a nationalist,and a right-wing politician.[13] In an interview, Irinej indicated he would oppose the first-ever visit by the Roman Catholic Pope to Serbia in 2013 as part of celebrations of the 1,700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan, the law under which Roman emperor Constantine, who was born in Niš, ended the persecution of Christians. Irinej said that "there is the wish of the Pope" for a meeting in Niš and that it could never be tolerated by any Serb.[2][14][15]

Regarding the accession of Serbia to the European Union, Irinej said that: "Serbia should look with suspicion at the EU, because the EU doesn't respect Serbian identity, culture and religion. We don't believe that we are an historical part of Europe, and we don't want to be in this family of nations. In the accession we won't accept anything, that is not in contradiction with our cultural and historical identity."[16][17]

In January 2012, Irinej referred to Republika Srpska, one of two entities comprising Bosnia and Herzegovina, as "the youngest Serbian state". The Office of the High Representative (OHR) responded and stated that the Republika Srpska is not a state but rather an entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina. The OHR noted that Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Constitution "left no room for any kind of the entity’s sovereignty" and that "the entity’s jurisdiction was not an indication of any sort of statehood."[18]

In January 2013, Irinej openly advocated for the restoration of the Serbian monarchy, after the liturgy on the occasion of transfer of the remains of King Peter II to Serbia from the USA.[19]

Awards and honors[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ B92: Vladika niški Irinej novi patrijarh (Bishop of Nis Irinej is the new Patriarch), 22 Jan 2010 (Serbian)
  2. ^ a b Babic, Boris (22 January 2010). "Profile: Serbia's new Patriarch Irinej, a Traditionalist and Diplomat". Retrieved 22 January 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c "Episkop niški IRINEJ (Gavrilović)" (in Serbian). Serbian Orthodox Church. Retrieved 22 January 2010. 
  4. ^ Barlovac, Bojana (22 January 2010). "Bishop Irinej Is New Serbian Orhodox Patriarch". Balkan Insight. Retrieved 22 January 2010. [dead link]
  5. ^ "Bishop of Nis elected new Serbian patriarch". The Sofia Echo. 22 January 2010. Retrieved 22 January 2010. 
  6. ^ Stojanovic, Dusan (22 January 2010). "Irinej, a moderate, elected as Serbian Orthodox Church leader". The Canadian Press. Retrieved 22 January 2010. 
  7. ^ Earth Times: Serbian church promotes Bishop Irinej to new patriarch, 22 Jan 2010
  8. ^ Serbian Orthodox Church. "Enthronement of Patriarch Irinej of Serbia" (in Serbian). Retrieved 22 January 2010. 
  9. ^ B92: Ustoličenje patrijarha 3. oktobra, 7 September 2010 (retrieved on 1 October 2010) (Serbian)
  10. ^ "“Patriarch Irinej insults Islam”". B92. 28 January 2010. 
  11. ^ "Serbian Patriarch Irinej calls Kosovo recognition a "sin"". Southeast European Times. 4 October 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  12. ^ ""God willing, Serbs in Serbia, Bosnia will be one"". B92. 15 November 2010. 
  13. ^ "Moderate bishop Irinej elected as Serbian Orthodox Church leader". Daily News and Economic Review. Turkey. 22 January 2010. Retrieved 22 January 2010. 
  14. ^ B92: Irinej: Papa u Srbiji 2013. godine? (Irinej: Pope in Serbia in 2013?), 21 Jan 2010 (Serbian)
  15. ^ Pope's visit would be welcomed by the SPC Beta, Tanjug. Retrieved 26 January 2010
  16. ^ RTS: Србија је у Европи (Serbia is in Europe), 28 Jan 2010, retrieved 28 Jan 2010 (Serbian)
  17. ^ Blic online: Patrijarh Irinej: Nema potrebe da zaziremo od Evropske unije (Patriarch Irenaeus: No need to shy away from the European Union), Retrieved 28 Jan 2010 (Serbian)
  18. ^ "OHR reacts to patriarch's statement". B92. 11 January 2012. 
  19. ^ Serbian Patriarch Irinej states that Serbia needs emperor or king, or some form of parliamentary monarchy. Retrieved 2013-01-23.

External links[edit]

Eastern Orthodox Church titles
Preceded by
Patriarch of Serbia