Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Irinej has died aged 90, after complications related to COVID-19.
Irinej was taken to hospital in Belgrade on November 4 after he tested positive for COVID-19.
On November 1, Irinej presided over the funeral service of Metropolitan Amfilohije Radovic, the Church’s senior bishop in Montenegro, which also died of COVID-19 related complications.
Despite warnings that the number of coronavirus infections could rise, thousands turned out to mourn him.
Many of them also approached Amfilohije’s open casket to kiss his hands or front head.
The National Coordinating Body for Infectious Diseases of Montenegro strongly condemned “the drastic violation of measures against the pandemic”.
Irinej was elected to the highest position in the Serbian Orthodox Church in January 2010.
Patriarch Irinej insisted that the Serbian Orthodox Church would oppose any deal reached between the Belgrade government and authorities in Kosovo if it confirmed Kosovo remaining outside Serbian territory.
In 2014 he stated that Kosovo is to Serbia what Jerusalem is to the Jews, and without Kosovo, Serbia is like a body without a head or a heart.