Information Service of
the Serbian Orthodox Church

May 13, 2004

REGULAR ASSEMBLY OF THE HOLY SYNOD OF BISHOPS BEGINS

On Thursday, May 13, 2004, this year's regular spring Assembly of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church began with Holy Archierchal Liturgy and the Invocation of the Holy Spirit, served in the Patriarchal court church of St. Simeon the Myrrh-Gusher, in the Patriarchal residence in Belgrade, by His Holiness Patriarch Pavle.

The Assembly of the Holy Synod will deliberate all current issues from the life of the Church and its people. All bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church are taking part in this assembly.

As part of the work of the Assembly of the Holy Synod of Bishops, on May 15, 2004 at 11:00 a.m. the regular assembly of the main body for completion of St. Sava Cathedral in Vracar (Belgrade) will also take place. The body includes representatives from every diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS PATRIARCH ALEKSII II OF RUSSIA TO PATRIARCH PAVLE

On the occasion of the jubilee ceremony in Belgrade His Holiness Patriarch Aleksii II of Moscow and All Russia, addressed the following letter to His Holiness Patriarch Pavle of Serbia:

TO THE PARTICIPANTS OF THE JUBILEE CEREMONY IN BELGRADE
May 8-10, 2004

Your Holiness!
Eminent bishops, venerable fathers, dear brothers and sisters!
Christ is risen!

On behalf of the Russian Orthodox Church, I sincerely greet all those gathered at the celebration of the completion of construction of the church of the great St. Sava the Enlightener, the teacher and builder of the land of Serbia. The great celebration that is taking place is further enhanced by the marking of the two hundred year anniversary of the beginning of the First Serbian Uprising under the leadership of Karadjordje.

Present in spirit with you, beloved holy fathers, brothers and sisters, I hope that you spend these festal days in spiritual joy and fraternal like-mindedness.

The enemies of Orthodoxy, wishing to erase the memory of the spiritual father of a great Slavic people, burned the holy relics of St. Sava, the first Serbian Archbishop, who was tonsured a monk on the Holy Mountain in the Russian monastery of St. Panteleimon.

But the name of St. Sava was not forgotten. To the present day his name remains known not only to every Serb but to numerous Orthodox Christians in the whole world. And in Vracar, where a crime was committed against the holy relics of the ascetic laborer, today a splendid and majestic holy shrine has been built in his honor.

The life work of St. Sava was the building of the most holy Serbian Church. And to the present day, both in the middle of pain and difficulties, as well as in days of peace and prosperity, the Church of St. Sava flourishes and to the entire Orthodox world gives the fruits of confessionality and unshakeability, great spirituality and theological wisdom.

The name of St. Sava, his intercession and prayers inspired the fighters for Serbian freedom. With the name of St. Sava in their hearts, Russian soldiers also ran to their aid in the battle of Shtubik *, as well as in many other battles. The First Serbian Uprising did not achieve its goal the creation of an independent Serbian state but the blood we spilled together for the freedom of Orthodox peoples, strengthened the brotherhood of our peoples for all time. Through joint efforts, the centuries of rule by the enslavers was finally cast off.

However, even today there is still no lasting peace in the Balkans. Only weeks ago in Kosovo and Metohija churches were destroyed and unsanctioned crimes committed against peace abiding citizens. On the ancient and holy land of their ancestors, Orthodox Serbs lack basic conditions to survive. However, representatives of the countries which took upon themselves the responsibility for the just solution of the situation in the province, cannot or will not stop the bloodshed.

The bishops, priests and faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church received with great pain news of the suffering of the people and their shrines, and they continue to pray for their long-suffering brothers.

In everything that is occurring we see a call for the strengthening of unity among Orthodox Christians and for the strengthening of our mutual cooperation, in the Balkans as well as throughout the world. Together with all men of good will, we must put an end to internal unrest and violence.

I believe that the Serbian people, which rejoices in every unexpected guest, which is patient in its suffering, which is devoted to its Homeland, following the example of its heroic ancestors, will fulfill the command of the Savior: Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul (Mat10:28).

Aleksii II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia

* Battle of Shtubik (1807) was the first common military victory of the Serbs and the Russians against the Turks

ARCHBISHOP PAUL OF RYAZAN AND KASIMOV VISITS NIKSIC

The high delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church headed by His Eminence Archbishop Paul of Ryazan and Kasimov, which participated in the main church celebration of the Bicentennial of the First Serbian Uprising and the completion of construction on St. Sava Cathedral in Belgrade with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Aleksii II of Moscow and All Russia, also took part in the Days of St. Basil of Ostrog event in Niksic on May 11 and 12.

At a formal academy held in Niksic on the occasion of the 200 year anniversary of the First Serbian Uprising, His Eminence Archbishop Paul pointed out the necessity for unity among the Slavic peoples. During the course of his presentation, His Eminence emphasized: "The visit of the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church on this holiday had the purpose of showing that we are with you. The Holy Apostles brought people together. St. Sergei of Radonezh, St. Daniel of Moscow, St. Sava, St. Basil of Ostrog... always sought to unite people. Today Europe is uniting and we want everyone to live in peace and prosperity. May God grant that the holy men of our peoples continue to unite us." The distinguished church envoy from Russia reminded that we must always remain aware of the fact that we are strong only when we are united. He said that "our strength lies in our spiritual unity and the Slavs, in addition to their faith, are also united by knowledge and culture".

After returning from Montenegro, Archbishop Paul visited the Serbian Orthodox Church Museum. On that occasion the distinguished guest again emphasized the need for spiritual unity of all Orthodox Christians.

USTASHE GRAFFITI IN SERBIAN CEMETERY IN VINKOVCI

Orthodox faithful visiting the cemetery in Vinkovci on Saturday, May 8, 2004 were met by a horrible sight: Dozens of graves were desecrated and bore Ustashe graffiti: "(Long) live Ante Pavelic, Ustashe, Kill the Serb, We will not give up Gotovina".

These messages by vandals upset, embittered and saddened the Orthodox believers. This is not the first time that the Orthodox cemetery has been desecrated: Over 80 percent of its gravestones have been destroyed, broken and scattered. Police in Vinkovci were informed immediately regarding the unfortunate event and are seeking the perpetrators.

WHERE THE WORD, THERE THE SOUL

The promotion of a book by Father Tomislav Djordjevic called "Gde rec tu i dusa" (Where the word, there the soul) will be held on Thursday, May 13, 2004 in the Vuk Karadzic Cultural Hall, Bulevar Kralja Aleksandra 77 a, at 6:00 p.m.,

Speaking about the book will be Father Dr. Ljubivoje Stojanovic, Goran Radenkovic and the author, Father Tomislav Djordjevic. Chants at the promotion will be sung be the choir of the Theological Faculty of the Serbian Orthodox Church under the direction of Predrag Miodrag.


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