The Patriarch of Serbia has once again been elected a while ago by drawing lots between three democratically elected previous candidates. The Patriarchy of the recently reposed Patriarch Paul - who was not the favourite choice several years ago - proved to be a "golden" one. If a choice between the three had to be made again today, experts say that he was the less famous and as such, was not regarded as a favourite.
The eighty-year-old Bishop of Nyssa, Irenaeus (Gavrilovic) is, in reality, a purely transitional patriarchy. We wonder, what will the benefit of this transition be, for the remaining years that are left for him to serve as Patriarch? Personally speaking, I cannot touch on such a matter. Time will probably tell, very soon.
What is worth discussing however, are the two levels relating to the matter of electing by drawing lots:
a) The democratic manner of electing. Many citizens and innumerable political scientists, who have made indirect democracy a fetish, might smile about the drawing of lots. They should at least recall that lots were also drawn by the "congregation of townspeople" in ancient Athens.... But for those of us who acknowledge priority to direct democracy, an institutional custom such as this expresses something far deeper: the "leader's" acceptance that he was not chosen as one who is "ceremonially" worthy, or by groups that have vested interests behind such a choice, or through a certain evident or covert transaction.
Subsequently, he is obliged to be a humble patriarch, and an expresser of the Conciliar ecclesiastic spirit. But, to tell the honest truth, lots were not drawn from the "pile", given that the tri-person candidacy was the product of a vote among many candidates, who would have secured 50% of the votes.
In the present case, the candidates were all 45 of the bishops of the Serbian Patriarchate, inside and outside Serbia. This may in fact constitute an exemplar for these kinds of institutionalizations, or at least for experimental implementation in secular collectivities.
b) The theology of drawing lots. I will not say many things. But I do think that with this method, the twofold hypostasis of the Church is symbolized and realized. The human element prevails, with the electing of three persons (regardless of the candidates' state of Enlightenment), but the divine element also, with the drawing of lots, given that - pursuant to the prayers - all human thoughts were put aside and a "hand" had "randomly" pulled out a piece of paper on which was written the name of the candidate.... who is to become the humble Patriarch.
Let us hope that this proto-Christian tradition - which was preserved for twenty centuries - will also come to the Church in Greece, by recalling the election of Matthias after drawing lots between two chosen candidates, to replace the disciple Judas (Iscariot) who had hung himself...