6:58 p.m., February 18, 2021
The Serbian Orthodox Church has a new patriarch. On Thursday afternoon, the previous Metropolitan of Zagreb and Ljubljana, Porfirije (Peric), was elected as the 46th head of the church. Peric is considered to be close to the Serbian authorities and the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS). Porfirije succeeds Patriarch Irinej, who died of the coronavirus on November 20, in office.
The 60-year-old Porfirije studied theology in Belgrade and received his doctorate in Athens in 2004. In 1999 he was appointed vicar bishop of Batschka. Since 2014 he has held the office of Metropolitan of Zagreb and Ljubljana.
The new patriarch was determined by means of the one in force since 1967 “apostolic type of choice”. Accordingly, the electoral assembly, to which all bishops belong, voted secretly until they agreed on three candidates. After invoking the Holy Spirit, a monk mixed the sealed envelopes with the names of the bishops and selected the patriarch.
The Viennese Serbian Orthodox Bishop Andrej (Cilerdzic) has called the new Serbian Patriarch Porfirije (Peric) a “lucky find”. In an interview with Kathpress following the patriarchal election, Cilerdizic described the new head of the church as an ecumenically open-minded and theologically highly educated personality. Peric has campaigned for reconciliation between Catholics and Orthodox over the past seven years and has had an integrative effect, said Cilerdzic in Blick on the tense relations between Serbia and Croatia.