Bishop Irinej of Nis has been elected the 45th head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the church patriarchate said Friday.
The new patriarch was chosen in a so-called apostolic vote. After 45 bishops had chosen a shortlist of three candidates, their names were written down in three separate envelopes, the monks prayed, and then one of the candidates - Irinej Gavrilovic - was chosen at random.
A spokesman for Russia's Orthodox Church, archpriest Nikolai Balashov, said Friday the Russian church knows the new Serb Christian leader, seen as a moderate, well.
"Bishop Irinej is one of the most influential hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church. A monk for half a century, he has been a bishop for 35 years and is much respected not only within his Diocese of Nis where he served for 34 years, but among Serbian Church bishops in general," Balashov said.
"He is also well known in the Orthodox world and has always had warm friendly feelings toward the Russian Orthodox Church," he said.
His Holiness Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade and Karlovci, late Serbian Patriarch Pavle was the oldest living leader of an Eastern Orthodox church. He called for peace and reconciliation in the 1990s during the inter-ethnic conflicts that resulted in the breakup of Yugoslavia.
In 2000, the Serbian Church, which had previously abstained from confrontation, openly called on Slobodan Milosevic, then president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, to resign after NATO air raids put an end to his crackdown on Kosovo Albanians.
MOSCOW, January 22 (RIA Novosti)