Lottery used to choose patriarch

Leadership in the Church justifiably occupies a good deal of time and energy, as well as news coverage. Even a casual observer of the Church knows that who becomes pope, bishop, priest or lay leader can have a great effect on the life of the Church. The “how” question around the selection of leaders in the church is an important one, is there an election, is there an appointment, some combination? The Serbian Orthodox Church uses a combination of preliminary voting and then a lottery to pick the final choice for patriarch. What do you think of that?


Lottery system to chose next Serbian Orthodox patriarch

From Reuters’ FaithWorld blog

If U.S. voters elected their president in the same way the Serbian Orthodox Church chooses it patriarch, they could have seen Ralph Nader, Ross Perot or other third place finishers taking up residence in the White House. That’s because the Church, in a move originally aimed at thwarting Communist authorities, uses a system that incorporates a lottery within the election by church elders to choose a leader.

The Holy Synod of Bishops, the Church’s top executive body, will use that system within the next three months to elect a successor to Patriarch Pavle, who died on Sunday. Pavle headed the Serbian Orthodox Church during the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s as Serbs warred with neighbours of other faiths.

Each member of the assembly votes for the three candidates and the vote is repeated until the selection is narrowed to three. After balloting, names of the three top candidates with more than 50 percent of backing are put in three sealed envelopes. “It all becomes a lottery then,” Janjic said.

The names of the three candidates are placed inside a Bible and after a holy service, a specially selected monk who prepares for the task through fasting and praying, takes the envelope from the Bible, shuffles the three names and pulls out one. The presiding bishop immediately takes the envelope, opens it in plain view of others and announces the name of the new patriarch.

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