I am greatly saddened by the death of the Orthodox Patriarch of Serbia who died yesterday at the Military Hopsital in Belgrade aged 90. He was a short man (by Serb standards) and not a great orator but he was a strong and fearless defender of the faith and a real father to his nation.
His working schedule was overwhelming and some half his age would not cope wiith it. He came in for a lot of criticism in the media for not being hard enough on the ruling elite, though I think a lot of that criticism was designed to draw people away from the church. Patriarchs have to work with the rulers of their countries, no matter how broken and shameful those in power may be. P Irinej had a canon lawyer approach to his role: a stickler for orthodoxy but not necessarily a 'man of the people'. That so many of the Bishops and Metropolitans under him were also fearless, strong and uncompromising must in part be a credit to his leadership.
Three weeks ago he presided over the funeral of Metropolitan Amphilochius in Podgorica (Montenegro) and he looked worn out with grief and work.
He fought hard to instil in the faithful the fact that you cannot catch Covid-19 from the Eucharist, and we must carry on that legacy. Where Christ is in his fullness, Covid-19 isn't. It looks likely he died as a result of coronary complications as a result of hospitalisation from testing positive for the virus. If indeed he did catch it, it most likely came from his endless work with politicians, who must be the biggest vectors for spreading this pandemic and the misery that ensues.