Patriarch Pavle (Ctojcevic, 1914-2009)

We will leave no comment other than the AP obituary, due to the wide spectrum of opinions on Pavle of Serbia.

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Pavle, who called for peace and conciliation during the Balkan ethnic wars of the 1990s but failed to openly condemn extreme Serb nationalism, died Sunday. He was 95.

Pavle, a respected theologian and linguist known for personal humility and modesty, had been hospitalized for two years with heart and lung problems and died of cardiac arrest in his sleep, the church and the Belgrade Military Hospital said.

Pavle took over the seven-million member church in 1990 just as the collapse of communism ended years of state policy of repressing religion. He often spoke against violence in the ethnic wars Orthodox Serbs fought against Catholic Croats and Bosnian Muslims during the bloodiest conflict in Europe since World War II.

The Serbian Church eventually broke with its tradition of formal neutrality in 2000, openly urging Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to step down. The church’s demand for Milosevic’s resignation helped lead to the popular revolt that ousted the autocratic president later that year.

The patriarch then tried to rally international support for protection of ancient Serbian churches and monasteries that came under attacks by Kosovo’s mostly Muslim ethnic Albanians.

Critics, however, faulted him and other Serbian religious leaders for failing to be equally vocal when Serb troops previously destroyed Catholic churches and Muslim mosques in Croatia and Bosnia.