Irinej of Serbia and Feofan of Kazan died of Covid-19. Both were loved not only by the Orthodox, but by the entire population and by members of other religions. The spiritual father Feodor Pestretsov, from the diocese of Nizhny Novgorod, and the Armenian Sepukh Chuldzhan, head of the diocese of Gugarsk, has also died.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - Yesterday 20 November, at 7 am, Serbian Patriarch Irinej (Gavrilović, photo 1) passed away in Belgrade at the age of 90. He was in hospital since November 5 due to the coronavirus. Irinej was a much loved figure not only in Serbia, but also in Russia and throughout the Orthodox world, among Catholics and other Christian denominations.
The president of Serbia, Aleksandr Vucic, recalled him with these words: “It was an honour for me to meet him. People like him will never really die”. These condolences were also joined by the president of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Milorad Dodik, recalling the "great pastor" of the Balkan Orthodox: "We will be forever grateful for all the love, attention and blessing that we too as a people and as a republic we received from Patriarch Irinej”.
On the same day of the death of the beloved patriarch in Serbia, there was another important loss, also due to Covid-19 in Russia: that of the metropolitan of Kazan, Feofan (Ašurkov, photo 2), also very revered in the Republic of Tatarstan, a region with a Muslim Tatar majority, and throughout Russia.
Feofan, 74, had been the leader of the Kazan Orthodox for 5 years, after a long service in Siberia. In the 1980s he served for a period in Jerusalem, then was secretary of the Russian Orthodox exarchate for Central and South America, representative of the Moscow patriarchate in Africa, and finally at the patriarchate of Antioch in Syria, becoming one of the best known personalities in the whole Orthodox world.
In the five years spent in the Tatar republic, Feofan had managed to win the affection of all the inhabitants, not just the Orthodox faithful. The president of Tatarstan himself, Rustam Minnikhanov, underlined: "In the few years that he was with us, Bishop Feofan has become very familiar and close to many inhabitants of our region, gaining the authority and respect of representatives of various nationalities. and religions. He also became friends with the entire Muslim Umma of our republic and our mufti ”, recalled Minnikhanov. The metropolitan's body will be buried in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan, on the hill of the capital next to the great blue mosque, the main Islamic center in all of Russia. Feofan was one of the Orthodox hierarchs closest to the Moscow patriarch Kirill (Gundjaev) himself.
Also in Russia, another priest much loved by the people died on November 18 due to the coronavirus, the 75-year-old protoierej Feodor Pestretsov of the diocese of Nizhny Novgorod (photo 3), a spiritual father of the priests of various diocesan institutions. The Armenian Church was also devastated in these days by the death, on November 19, of Archbishop Sepukh Chuldzhan, 61, head of the diocese of Gugarsk (photo 4). A native of the Turkish city of Malatia, he had moved with his family to Armenia since childhood, and had headed his diocese since 1996.