TO THE HOLY SYNOD OF THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH
ON THE REPOSE OF PATRIARCH PAVLE OF SERBIA
To His Eminence
of Montenegro and the Coastal Lands
and the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church
Your Eminence Vladyko!
It was with profound sadness that I learned of the repose of His Holiness Patriarch Pavle of Serbia, the father of all Orthodox Serbs, whose life and faith served as a spiritual guidepost for his people.
We have lost a remarkable person—ascetically humble, natural in his spiritual simplicity and wisdom, a man of fervent prayer.
We lost a man of duty, a strong hierarch, whose voice defended the faith, the truth, justice, the lawful rights and freedoms of the Orthodox Serbian population and reached all those in power both in Serbia and throughout the world.
In His Holiness Patriarch Pavle we saw a genuine friend of the Russian Church Abroad and a true man of prayer for the Russian people in the diaspora. In 1992, the late Patriarch visited the United States, seeking from this country and its influential persons and organizations fairness towards the much-suffering Serbian people in the days of their great tragedy. He came also as the father of his flock abroad, which then, by the mercy of God, had already overcome its erstwhile division and had united. Events in the Balkans hastened his return. Every hour of his historic visit to America was scheduled. And still, Archbishop Anthony (Medvedev, +2000), who was tonsured in Milkovo Monastery, his clergy and flock had the opportunity to meet this humble and spiritually-great heir of St Savva at their Cathedral of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow.” This was to honor our St John (Maximovich), who is so touchingly and lovingly remembered by the Serbs, who was so revered by the “Serbian Chrysostom,” Bishop Nikolaj of Zica, and by St Justin Popovic. Descending to the crypt of St John, the late Patriarch Pavle donned the epitrachelion and himself performed a funerary litany. Eternal Memory was then sung. Then you, Your Eminence Vladyko, began to sing the troparion, which the Patriarch’s delegation joined you in: “Teacher of Orthodoxy, instructor of piety and chastity, luminary of the Church, God-inspired instruction of Hierarchs, O supremely wise John…” And everyone sang this troparion to the end. They also sang this troparion to Archimandrite Justin (Popovic), even before his glorification. His Holiness Patriarch Pavle of blessed memory is also worthy of the singing of these words.
Today, with all our hearts, we grieve together with you and the Serbian Orthodox people.
I assure you, Your Eminence, that the Russian Church Abroad bears abiding love for the Serbian Church and unceasingly raises its prayers for her suffering people; a country enduring a tragic period in its history.
May the Lord strengthen the Serbian Church and her people for many years.
With love in Christ,
Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York,
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
November 15, 2009