Porfirije, Serbian Patriarch
Porfirije (Serbian Cyrillic: Порфирије, English: Porphyrios; born Prvoslav Perić; born 22 July 1961) is the current and 46th patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church. He was the metropolitan bishop of Zagreb and Ljubljana, from 2014 to 2021. Before that, he was titular bishop of Jegra between 1999 and 2014. He is also a university professor and author of theological works.
Early life and education
Porfirije was born as Prvoslav Perić (Serbian Cyrillic: Првослав Перић) on 22 July 1961, in the town of Bečej, PR Serbia, FPR Yugoslavia (now in Serbia), to Radojka and Radivoj Perić. His family has roots in Derventa, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In 1986, Porfirije earned his bachelor's degree in Eastern Orthodox theology from the University of Belgrade, when Bishop Pavle of Raška and Prizren (future Serbian Patriarch) ordained him a hierodeacon at the Holy Trinity Monastery in Mušutište, SAP Kosovo. He attended postgraduate studies at the University of Athens from 1986 until 1990. He earned a doctorate in Athens in 2004, with the thesis Possibility of knowability of God in St. Paul's understanding according to the interpretation of Saint John Chrysostom.
Hegumen of Kovilj Monastery and Bishop of Jegra (1990–2014)
On 6 October 1990, upon the blessing of Bishop Irinej Bulović of Bačka, Porfirije joined the Kovilj Monastery in Kovilj, near Novi Sad. On 21 November 1990, he was ordained as hieromonk and became hegumen of the Kovilj Monastery.
Many young monks and novices came to the Kovilj Monastery following him. These were the times when the monastery had become a spiritual center for many young people: intellectuals, artists, actors and rock musicians, especially from Novi Sad and Belgrade. Since then Porfirije has particularly dealt with patients suffering from drug addictions. On 14 May 1999, the Bishops' Council of the Serbian Orthodox Church elected Porfirije as the titular bishop of Jegra, and appointed vicar to the Eparchy of Bačka.
In 2005, Porfirije formed a therapeutic community called Zemlja živih (transl. The Land of the Living), which is recognized as a successful project for drug rehabilitation. Under the leadership of Porfirije, it has more than a hundred residents in camps throughout Serbia at the time being.
In 2010, the Bishops' Council entrusted Porfirije to establish military chaplaincy in the Serbian Armed Forces. He was the military chaplain until 2011, whereupon he was a coordinator for cooperation between the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian Army.
Metropolitan of Zagreb and Ljubljana (2014–2021)
In May 2014, Porfirije was elected metropolitan bishop of Zagreb and Ljubljana succeeding Jovan Pavlović, and enthroned by Patriarch Irinej on 13 July in the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Lord in Zagreb, Croatia.
The Sankt Ignatios College and Sankt Ignatios Foundation awarded him with the Order of Sankt Ignatios on 16 February 2016 in Stockholm, Sweden. He was awarded "for his contribution to the reconciliation of the people in the Balkans and his dedicated work on promoting unity among Christians". In June 2016, Porfirije released his new book titled Zagreb i ja se volimo javno (transl. Zagreb and Me are Openly in Love) in Zagreb. This book contains selected interviews from July 2014 to February 2016 which he gave as the metropolitan for Politika, RTS, Jutarnji list, Večernji list, HRT, RTV Slovenija, and RTRS.
In 2016, Porfirije attended a gathering of Serbian priests in Chicago, Illinois, where along with other priests, he was filmed singing a song dedicated to the Chetnik commander Momčilo Đujić. This drew criticism from the Croatian public and Porfirije later apologized for this act with an explanation that he did not have "influence to all circumstances," and that "certain media manipulated this event." Also, he stated "that someone these days contributing with outpouring intolerance towards the Serbs, as well as to the deepening of the divide between Croats and Serbs."
Between 2017 and 2020, Porfirije hosted meetings of Zagreb-based intellectuals who discussed social, ethical, and political topics. Held in the Serbian Orthodox Gymnasium in Zagreb, those meetings were colloquially known as Porfirijevi kružoci (transl. The Porfirije's Circles). Some of attendees were Ivo Josipović, Rada Borić, Vili Matula, Tvrtko Jakovina, Dejan Jović, Dražen Lalić, Milorad Pupovac, and others.
Porfirije was a member of the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church between 2017 and 2019.
In January 2019, the Association for Religious Freedom in Croatia (Croatian: Udruga za vjersku slobodu u Republici Hrvatskoj) on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of its founding awarded Porfirije with a recognition for his peaceful contribution to the promotion of the culture of dialogue and religious freedoms. When Patriarch Irinej fell ill in 2019, Porfirije was seen as one of the main candidates for the position of the next Serbian Patriarch.
During his post as Metropolitan, he tried to "build bridges" between Serbs and Croats. He was a visiting professor at Roman Catholic faculties and established good relations with high-ranking members of the Catholic clergy.
Administrator of the Metropolitanate (2021–present)
Following his inauguration as the new Serbian Patriarch in February 2021, Porfirije became an administrator of the Metropolitanate of Zagreb and Ljubljana until the election of new metropolitan bishop.
Serbian Patriarch (2021–present)
Election and inauguration
Porfirije was elected Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church on 18 February 2021 at the Bishops' Council's convocation in the Church of Saint Sava, three months after the death of previous patriarch, Irinej, becoming the 46th Serbian Patriarch. With 31 out of 39 votes, he was the first of three leading candidates with the most votes from the 30 bishops eligible in the Serbian Orthodox Church, along with Bishop Irinej of Bačka who won 30 votes and Bishop Jefrem of Banja Luka who won 24 votes. In the final phase, the envelope with his name was pulled between three of them from the Gospel by Archimandrite Matej of Sisojevac Monastery. In this way, the Serbian Orthodox Church believes the patriarch is elected by divine intervention, sidelining human interests. As one of the youngest Serbian Orthodox bishops at the time of election, Porfirije is the youngest Serbian Patriarch elected since 1937. Congratulatory letters on the occasion of the election of the new Serbian Patriarch were sent by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, Patriarch Neophyte of Bulgaria, Patriarch John X of Antioch, Patriarch Daniel of Romania, and Archbishop Anastasios of Albania. Also, the Montenegrin President Milo Đukanović, who stated in the February 2020 interview for AFP that Montenegro needs to have its own Orthodox Church in order to strengthen its national identity and oppose interference from Serbia, sent his congratulations upon election.
Porfirije was enthroned on 19 February 2021 in St. Michael's Cathedral in Belgrade. Patriarchal insignias were handed over to him by Metropolitan Hrizostom of Dabar-Bosnia and Bishop Lukijan of Buda. In his introductory speech Porfirije focused on unity and peace building. He stated that Kosovo and Metohija is in his prayers, and the Serbs in the affected Kosovo and Metohija will be in his first place. Also, he stated that Croatia has become his second homeland, and the people he met there will remain a role model for him in the years to come. The inauguration was attended by numerous government ministers of Serbia, representatives of churches and religious communities in Serbia, and various politicians including Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić. The ceremony was also attended by Milorad Dodik, the Chairman and the presiding Serb member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina; Željka Cvijanović, the President of Republika Srpska (Serb-majority entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina); Apostolic Nuncio Luciano Suriani; Archbishop Stanislav Hočevar, the Catholic archbishop of Belgrade, Effendi Mustafa Jusufspahić, the Mufti of Serbia; and many other dignitaries such as Prince Filip Karađorđević, a member of the House of Karađorđević.
The date of Porfirije's enthronement to the ancient throne of the Serbian patriarch in the Patriarchate of Peć Monastery will be announced.
On 20 February, a day following the inauguration, a Holy Synod member and one of the three prime candidates for the new Patriarch election Bishop Irinej of Bačka tested positive for COVID-19.
On 25 February, Porfirije met with Serbian President Vučić. After the meeting he stated that he is not a politician because he thinks that the Serbian Orthodox Church is "a conciliator organism which has the goal to collect, build bridges, dull blades and overcome polarization". On 27 February, Porfirije visited Majske Poljane and Glina, areas affected by the 2020 Petrinja earthquake, and met with Serb community there. It was his first pastoral visit.
Positions on morality and politics
Privrednik Foundation (2002–present)
Regulatory Authority of Electronic Media (2005–2014)
In 2005, the National Assembly of Serbia elected Porfirije, who was the bishop of Jegra at the time, as a member of the Council of the Republic Broadcasting Agency (Serbian: Republička radiodifuzna agencija, RRA), later renamed to the Regulatory Authority of Electronic Media (Serbian: Regulatorno telo za elektronske medije). At the Council, he was a representative of all churches and religious communities in Serbia.
On 29 July 2008, Porfirije was elected as the new council chairman of the Republic Broadcasting Agency (RRA), succeeding Nenad Cekić.
In 2010, RRA demanded from TV Pink that profanity in the Farma reality show be bleeped. On that issue, Porfirije stated that the profanity escalated so much that the RRA Council was resolved to unconditionally and immediately stop it, without waiting for the end of the procedure. In 2011, he criticized reality television and advocated a ban of live broadcasting of reality television. Later, there was similar issue with another TV Pink-produced reality show Dvor (transl. The Palace).
In May 2014, Porfirije resigned as the council chairman of the Regulatory Authority of Electronic Media following his election to the Metropolitan of Zagreb and Ljubljana. Goran Karadžić, who was the Porfirije's deputy, succeeded him as the council chairman.
After he earned doctorate from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in 2004, Porfirije became a docent at the Department of Catechetic and Pastoral Theology of the Eastern Orthodox Theology Faculty of the University of Belgrade. As a a docent, he was re-elected in 2010. In 2015, Porfirije became an associate professor. At that department, he succeeded academician Vladeta Jerotić, with whom he worked closely in several fields for years.
As a professor at the University of Belgrade, Porfirije has been teaching basic studies in Pastoral Theology with Psychology and New Testament Theology, as well as in other subjects at the postgraduate and doctorate programs. He also participated in the initiation and promotion of the Bible Institute at the Eastern Orthodox Theology Faculty.
Titles and styles
His official title in English is His Holiness the Archbishop of Peć, Metropolitan of Belgrade and Karlovci, and Serbian Patriarch Porfirije; in Serbian, Njegova Svetost Arhiepiskop pećki, mitropolit beogradsko-karlovački i patrijarh srpski gospodin Porfirije, or in Cyrillic: Његова Светост Архиепископ пећки, митрополит београдско-карловачки и патријарх српски господин Порфирије.
His official form of address in English is His Holiness Porfirije, Serbian Patriarch; in Serbian, Njegova Svetost patrijarh srpski gospodin Porfirije.
- Former official titles
- 1999–2014: His Grace Titular Bishop of Jegra Porfirije in English; Njegovo Preosveštenstvo vikarni episkop jegarski Porfirije in Serbian.
- 2014–2021: His Eminence Metropolitan of Zagreb and Ljubljana Porfirije in English; Njegovo Visokopreosveštenstvo Mitropolit zagrebačko-ljubljanski Porfirije in Serbian and Croatian.
- Croatia: Recognition (2019) of the Association for Religious Freedom in Croatia
- Sweden: Order of Sankt Ignatios (2016) by the Sankt Ignatios Foundation
- (2015) Licem k Licu: Biblijsko-pastirska promišljanja o Bogu, čoveku i svetu (transl. Face to Face: Biblical-Pastoral Reflections on God, Man and the World)
- (2016) Zagreb i ja se volimo javno (transl. Zagreb and Me are Openly in Love)
- (2020) Premudrost u Tajni sakrivena — Ogledi iz Teologije apostola Pavla (transl. Wisdom is Hidden in the Secret – Essays in the Theology of Paul the Apostle)
- Selected articles
- (2011) E ágápe õs sýndesmos ginóskontos kaí ginoskoménoy
- (2012) Kosovo je naš krst (transl. Kosovo is Our Cross)
- (2015) Pastirsko prisustvo crkve u srpskom narodu tokom Prvog svetskog rata (transl. The Pastoral Presence of the Church in the Serbian People during the First World War)
- (2019) Pavlovo poimanje pravednosti Božje u tumačenju Svetog Jovana Zlatoustog (transl. Paul's Understanding of the Righteousness of God in the Interpretation of St. John Chrysostom)
- (2019) Misionarski i pastirski rad Svetoga Save (transl. Missionary and Pastoral Work of Saint Sava)
- (2020) Eshatologija apostola Pavla: poslanice Solunjanima i Korinćanima (transl. The Eschatology of Paul the Apostle: Epistles to the Thessalonians and Corinthians)
- (2020) Antropologija Svetog Apostola Pavla (transl. Anthropology of Saint Paul the Apostle)
- List of current Christian leaders
- List of current popes and patriarchs
- List of 21st-century religious leaders