Irinej (Serbian Cyrillic: Иринеј, pronounced [irǐneːj], English: Irenaeus; born Miroslav Gavrilović; 28 August 1930 – 20 November 2020) was the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church from 2010 until his death in 2020. He had been the first bishop of Niš between 1975 and 2010, and then the patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church from 22 January 2010 succeeding Pavle, until his death. He was considered, both abroad and at home, to be a moderate traditionalist, open to global inter-religious dialogue.
He is also known as Miroslav Gavrilovic.
On 4 November 2020, Irinej tested positive for COVID-19 after attending, as well as presiding over, the 1 November funeral of Metropolitan Amfilohije, who had died from COVID-19. The large crowds at Amfilohije's funeral did not practise social distancing or wear masks and Amfilohije's casket was open during the service. On 14 November it was reported that his health condition was "stable and under control during hospitalization" in the military COVID hospital in Belgrade. On 19 November, he was intubated. Some media outlets reported that Irinej had died; the Serbian Orthodox Church issued a statement refuting these claims, but said that Irinej was in worsening health at a military hospital in Belgrade. Some members of the press still insisted that the news of Irinej's death had been confirmed by reputable sources.
Irinej's death was officially announced on 20 November at 7:07 am CET. On the same day, the Government of Serbia, as well as Republika Srpska, declared three-day mourning following his death, while the town of Budva, Montenegro, declared a day of mourning on 23 November, a day after Irinej's funeral. French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his condolences in the Serbian Cyrillic script. Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences, as did the head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Epiphanius I, and the deputy of the Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, Archpriest Nikolay Balashov. The European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi tweeted his condolences to Serbia's people. Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East, sent a message of condolence to the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church, as well as Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria and all Africa. Pope Francis stated that Irinej was "an example of faith and dialogue".
The Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy stated that "The late Primate , during his Patriarchal service, reflected the profound Orthodox feelings of the Serbian people, as well as his hope for a better future. Until today, he strived, without sparing any effort, for the unity of the One and Indivisible Church of Christ and the troubles that concern the modern world." The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity stated that "throughout his ministry, His Holiness remained an example of faith and dialogue, humble and joyful, totally dedicating his life to God and fostering the spirit of communion within the Serbian Orthodox Church." Many other organizations sent their messages of condolence, including Appeal of Conscience Foundation and German Bishops' Conference.