Serbian Orthodox patriarch dies





The head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Pavle, has died in Belgrade, the Church has announced.

The patriarch, 95, became leader of the Church in 1990. He was admitted to the city's military hospital two years ago.

Though he reportedly suffered from heart and lung conditions, the Church did not specify the cause of death.

After the fall of communism and rise of Serb nationalism, the Church regained a leading role during his rule.

At the beginning of the Balkan wars that followed the dissolution of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, Pavle said - according to Serbian state television: "It is our oath not to make a single child cry or sadden a single old woman because they are of another religion or nation."

But critics accused him of failing to contain hardline bishops and priests who supported Serb paramilitaries against Catholic Croats and Bosnian Muslims.

After those wars, Pavle became more directly involved - openly criticising Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, after he lost Kosovo following Nato's intervention.



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