His Holiness Patriarch Pavle of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) has requested withdrawal from active service in the SOC. The Holy Synod of the SOC has received the Patriarch’s letter and will forward it to the “Sabor” of the SPC which will decide on it, on November 11th, 2008.
The Serbian Patriarch is 94 years old and has been receiving medical treatment at the Military Hospital in Belgrade for a year. He was not seen in public. Doctors say he is okay, but he is frail because of his age.
The current Constitution of the SOC forbids the replacement of the Patriarch. The Patriarch is chosen on this duty for life. Only if he makes his own decision to withdraw, fully aware, in writing with his own personal signature and pen, can he be replaced by someone else.
The throne of Saint Sava will most likely be inherited by either His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral, or His Grace Bishop Irinej of Nis, or His Grace Bishop Hrizostom of Zica, at least this is what the Serbian media are speculating. For months, there have been rows within the SOC, whether the Patriarch should remain on this position until he surrenders his blessed soul to the Lord, or whether he should be replaced by someone younger, of the new generation of Bishops.
The Serbian Orthodox Church has been autocephalous (independent) since 1219. Its first Archbishop was Prince Rastko Nemanjic, better known as Saint Sava, the “father” of the SOC. The first Serbian Patriarch was elected in 1337. The current Patriarch, Pavle, is the 53rd Serbian Patriarch and the 45th Patriarch of Pec (in Kosovo).
Patriarch Pavle is a very loved and respected Patriarch among the Serbian people.