Patriarch Irinej Gavrilović (1930- ) of Serbia
In his Christmas epistle, Patriarch Irinej Gavrilović told Kosovo Serbs to be determined and to stay in their homes. Patriarch Irinej said that anxiety marred our spiritual peace “and our everyday life is overshadowed with fear and worry about events in the world, especially the tragic events in our crucified Kosovo. We counsel our dear faithful flock, the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, to be determined and to stay in their homesteads, with their Church and their holy shrines, in the land of their ancestors”. He told the Serbs that the church was always with them and that it always would be. “Without suffering, there’s no resurrection. May our Lord be our measure even in our suffering”, the patriarch noted and wished everyone a merry Christmas. Patriarch Irinej pointed up that every day we face temptations, misfortune, and suffering, not only those caused by others, but also by ourselves, saying, “Afflictions in our homes, suffering in our schools, cities, and villages, and distress in different countries and between nations, attest to a deep division in the world, a division which can’t be overcome with human efforts”. The patriarch added that it seemed that chaos laid at the foundation of our society, but “chaos is actually present only where there’s a consciousness about the true measure of things and what we’ve lost, and that measure is love”.
Patriarch Irinej Gavrilović stated that Serbia belongs in the EU, but that the EU shouldn’t ask Serbia to renounce its claims to Kosovo. He told the newspaper Alo, “We support and respect those who wish to join the European Union because we really belong there. We appreciate the invitation, but not conditions that they’re placing upon it”. He emphasised that Serbia shouldn’t have to renounce its claims to Kosovo in order to join the EU. The patriarch noted, “Therefore, if we need to renounce Kosovo in order to join Europe, thanks, but we’ll continue, in that case, to live with our poor people the best that we can”. He told Kosovo Serbs to stay united and to fight peacefully for their rights because it was the only way to endure and survive in the southern Serbian province.
Serbian Orthodox believers will celebrate Christmas Eve on Friday, anticipating the celebration of Christmas. Orthodox Christians who follow the traditional Julian calendar celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas on 6 and 7 January. Patriarch Irinej Gavrilović will serve an evening worship service at St Sava Cathedral today, and Christmas liturgy at the Cathedral of St Michael the Archangel (“The Cathedral”) tomorrow. Both churches are in Belgrade
5/6 January 2012