PODGORICA -- Thousands of people turned out in Podgorica in violation of coronavirus measures for the funeral of the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro, who died after being hospitalized following a positive test for COVID-19.
Metropolitan Amfilohije was interred in the crypt of the Cathedral of Christ's Resurrection in the Montenegrin capital after a public viewing.
Patriarch Irinej of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) performed the liturgy, witnessed by bishops from other SOC diocese, representatives of the Roman Catholic Church and the Islamic religious community, and public officials, including Montenegrin Prime Minister-designate Zdravko Krivokapic, parliament speaker Aleksa Becic, and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.
Despite the calls that came from some doctors to ban the open-casket funeral, many mourners who were not wearing masks or maintaining social distance approached his remains, with some customarily kissing the cleric's hands or forehead.
Amfilohije died at the Clinical Center of Montenegro (KCCG) early on October 30 at the age of 82.
The church announced his death in a statement but did not give any details on the cause of death. The head of the pulmonology clinic at the KCCG, Jelena Borovinic Bojovic, informed the church late on October 29 that Amfilohije's condition was serious and had deteriorated.
She added that he had been intubated and placed on invasive ventilation as he was suffering from pneumonia brought on by COVID-19.
The Serbian Orthodox Church is the dominant religious organization in Montenegro, a country of 620,000 predominantly Orthodox Christians.
Montenegro split from its larger neighbor Serbia more than a decade ago.