The Serb member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Milorad Dodik, said that the late head of the Serb Orthodox Church, Patriarch Irinej, was the one who kept Serbs all together, wherever they may live.
Patriarch Irinej died at a military hospital in Belgrade on Friday after having been hospitalised on November 4 due to COVID-19 complications. He has headed the SPC since January 2010.
Dodik said he perceives Irinej’s death as a personal loss.
The Patriarch "had the strength and power to bring us and always keep us together," Dodik said in Belgrade, where Irinej was buried on Sunday.
Dodik said that the late Patriarch always emphasized that for Serbia and the Serb-dominated semi-autonomous part of Bosnia, Republika Srpska (RS), the most important was unity, faith in God and love for the homeland and for people.
"Republika Srpska has over the past 11 years neither cried, nor rejoiced without Patriarch Irinej being with us. (...) The patriarch had love for all of us and was happy to come visit. Republika Srpska was his home just like Serbia was, he was a shepherd for all of us and the one who erased borders between our countries, cities, regions, between us," Dodik said.
This is the strength of the Church, he added.
Dodik described the Patriarch as "an unusually ordinary and modest man, a man of kind words and firm deeds."
The Bosnian Serb leader said that the Patriarch’s death came at a difficult time for the Serbian Orthodox Church and that it will take years for the loss to be compensated.