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25 May 2017 01:24 (South Africa)

Serbian religious leader passes away

The leader of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Pavle, died in Belgrade over the weekend at the age of 95. He had become leader of the Church in 1990. Most of Serbia's population of 7 million people are Orthodox Christians. The church's governing body, the Holy Synod, is expected to announce on Monday when a successor will be chosen, most likely after 40 days of mourning. With the fall of communism and the rise of Serb nationalism, the Church regained its leading place in society. Patriarch Pavle had said during the Balkan wars that followed the collapse of a united Yugoslavia, that it is “our oath not to make a single child cry or sadden a single old woman because they are of another religion or nation”.  Some critics accused him of failing to restrain hardline religious figures who gave support to Serb paramilitaries against Croatian Catholics and Bosnian Muslims, although he openly criticised Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic after Kosovo was lost during Nato intervention. For more, read the BBC

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