Serbian Patriarch Meets With Vatican Representatives

On this past May 28th, Serbian Patriarch Irenej had a meeting with several prominent Roman Catholic leaders, including the Vatican ambassador, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, as well as the Papal Nuncio Orlando Antonini and Roman-Catholic Archbishop of Belgrade Stanislav Hocevar. This was followed a few days (June 4, 2013)  later by Patriarch Irenej attending a museum opening with Roman Catholic clerics. Patriarch Irenej has been famous for his ecumenical gestures, even participating with Muslim and Jewish leaders in celebrating Chanukha.

From the traditional Orthodox view participation in religious services and prayers with non-Orthodox is strictly forbidden (Canon 45 of the Apostolic Canons call for their immediate suspension).  Yet, even the appearance of collaborating with non-Orthodox Christian religions (such as Roman Catholicism) by welcoming them as guests for official meetings and photo-ops should give Orthodox Christians pause, as well as most Serbs. This is not only from the appearance that it supports something Orthodox Christianity considers to be heresy.  It was the Roman Catholic Church and its Croatian allies in World War 2 (including Croatian Cardinal Stepinac, who, though beatified by the Vatican, was complicit in war crimes and massacres against the Serbian population), that vigorously attacked Serbian Orthodoxy.

Yet, Serbian Christianity seems to be under one of the darkest clouds ever, with the rampant sexual abuse scandals throughout the Official Serbian Patriarchate. Interestingly, though, while the Serbian Patriarchate was refusing to investigate, or sweeping under the rug, the years of horrific abuse by Serbian bishops, it has no problem immediately bringing the hammer down upon it’s own few Bishops who dare to criticize the Serbian government . There is also the previously noted persecution of the minority of Serbs who embrace the more conservative and traditionalist True Orthodox Church of Serbia that has criticized the Patriarchate for its ecumenism and corruption.

The Serbian Patriarch has been open about his support for the European Union as well as involving the Vatican in major celebrations.