Information Service of
the Serbian Orthodox Church

September 3, 2004


His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle will preside over the regular autumn session of the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church to begin on Monday, September 6, 2004 in the Patriarch’s residence in Belgrade.

All bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church will take part in the work of the session. A public communique will be issued upon its conclusion.


The director of the Kosovo district Dragan Velic stated on Thursday, September 2, 2004 that in several locations in Kosovo where Serbs are in the majority, elementary and secondary school students are not able to regularly attend classes. Velic mentioned a case in the municipality of Strpce where, in one of the villages where the Serbs are the majority population, an attempt was made to physically occupy the school building. The international community helped the Albanian students in this, said Velic. "This is a clear signal and pressure on the Serbs to leave," assessed Velic. He added that the disturbance of the Serbian students in Strpce continues today.

There were also problems with the beginning of classes taught in the Serbian language in Kosovo Polje because the keys of the renovated school, which was torched during the March violence, still have not been received.

In Lipljan, said Velic, children have been receiving instruction in the Serbian language for the past five years in private houses because the portable containers promised for an improvised school still have not arrived. Classes also have not begun for secondary school students of four satellite campuses in Kosovsko Pomoravlje because of transportation problems.

"The problem is that the only schoolbus for the transportation of students and teachers to these schools was confiscated at the end of the last school year by the Gnjilane Municipal Court. The bus has not been returned and the students do not feel safe trying to get to class without organized transportation," said the education director for the Kosovsko Pomoravlje district, Dragoslav Vidic. The confiscated bus was used to transport students and teaching staff to the Gymnasium (general secondary school) and the Medical Secondary School satellite campuses in Pasjane, and the Technical and Economic Secondary Schools with satellite campuses in Partes. Classes began normally on September 1 in the Technical Secondary School in Kusac, the Gymnasium in Silovo, the Economic Secondary School in Ranilug, the Medical Secondary School in Ropotovo, as well as in all 19 elementary schools in the municipalities of Gnjilane, Kosovska Kamenica, Kosovska Vitina and Novo Brdo.


On August 28, 2004, the feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God, the representative delegation of the Roman Catholic Church led by Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, presented His Holiness Patriarch Alexey II of Moscow and All-Russia a copy of the icon of the Holy Mother of God of Kazan after a solemn divine service at the Cathedral of the Dormition in Moscow.

This icon is a copy of an original icon painted in 1579, decorated in silver and precious stones, has been in the Vatican for the past 11 years. A group of Christians from the United States of America bought the icon for one million dollars and presented it to the Pope as a gift. The icon disappeared after the Russian revolution in 1917.

Commenting on the return of the miracle-working icon from the Vatican to Moscow, His Holiness Patriarch Alexey II said that the icon had passed a long and difficult journey and that on the feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God it was returning to its home in Russia. “We are grateful to His Holiness the Bishop of Rome, Cardinal Kasper and all the members of the delegation of the Roman Catholic Church that the icon of the Mother of God of Kazan has been returned to Russia. We ask that you convey our warmest regards to Pope John Paul II. We hope that this should be evidence of the firm intentions of Vatican church senior officials to restore true relations between our Churches.”

His Holiness Patriarch Alexey II also addressed a letter to Pope John Paul II including the following excerpt: “I wholeheartedly thank you for having handed the Kazan Icon of our Most Holy Lady, the Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary over to the Russian Orthodox Church. The transfer of this holy icon brought over by your envoys is seen by the Plenitude of the Russian Orthodox Church as both an act of the restoration of justice and an act of good will on the part of Your Holiness. I believe that your decision to hand over the icon points to the sincere desire to overcome the difficulties existing in relations between our two Churches. Once again, I would like to thank Your Holiness from my heart for the gift and to express hope that the Most Holy Theotokos as "a swift and selfless healer of infirmities and divisions" (Akathistos to the Kazan Icon of the Theotokos) will send Her grace and mercy upon the faithful of our two Churches.”


Recently at the border crossing Tabanovci border officials of FYR Macedonia prohibited Belgrade publicist Miodrag Miso Vujovic from entering their country. Mr. Vujovic sent an open letter to FYR Macedonia president Branko Crvenkovski regarding the incident, stating the following:

“Esteemed Mr. President, you are aware that all regimes that persecuted freedom of speech and confession have ended ignobly. Our generation learned from Njegos: “He whose law is written by his cudgel leaves behind...” [Trans. note: “...the stench of inhumanity.” Petar II Petrovic Njegos, “The Mountain Wreath”] You will agree that it is very important what we leave behind us. I look upon what I leave freely. That is why I was shocked a few days ago to be welcomed before the gates of your country, which I approached as a well-intentioned traveler or transiting tourist, as an enemy of the state.

Namely, on August 23 of this year, while traveling with my wife and child, I was informed at the Tabanovci border crossing that I have been prohibited from entering FYROM for one year. Upon my stubborn insistence, the police chief at the border crossing advised me that this was sentence was issued by the Secretariat of Internal Affairs in Bitolj for allegedly taking prohibited photographs. Upon my request that he provide a written statement, I received the reply that unless I left, an intervention unit would be coming for me from Skoplje, which will, I quote “address your forcible entry into Macedonia.”

On March 17, after meeting with Metropolitan Jovan of Veles and Povardarje – whom you yourself greeted on August 2 of this year in Prohor Pcinjski (and who was subsequently sentenced to 18 months in prison) – in downtown Bitolj, as I was standing next to my car by the fountain located 20 meters from the police station, I was jumped by two plain clothes policemen, who confiscated my video camera and detained me for questioning.

In a very brief period of time the entire content of my video tape was established – two mosques, one church, the market place and the fountain – and on the film in my camera, which contained details of the burned monastery of Chilandar, filmed a few days previously. My car was thoroughly searched and my briefcase, my passport was photocopied...

As I supposed, the motives for my detention were of an entirely different nature and I wrote about them in the April issue of “Princip” magazine.

The two and a half hour conversation in the police station in Bitolj was conducted on the topic of Metropolitan Jovan and his followers. In fact, this was the sole reason for my detention. The state security inspector interrupted me several times not to call him a metropolitan because the so-called Macedonian Orthodox Church had defrocked him.

“Yes, he was defrocked by schismatics. He is acknowledged by everyone and they are acknowledged by no one,” I replied rather casually.

In the end, when I asked for the third time to call the Serbia and Montenegro Embassy in Skoplje, my passport was returned to me. We parted warmly, everyone maintaining his original position, brought a little closer by Yugo-nostalgia and our common western Macedonian and southern Serbian trials.

Such an action is characteristic of the timid and powerless and certainly will not recommend you where you are determined to go.

In conclusion, I would like to inform you that it is not amnesty I am looking for. This letter, translated into several languages, will be delivered to all the relevant addresses worldwide. That is enough for me for the sake of the truth, which remains my only ideal.

I will avoid your country and leave it up to you to impose democracy until you are asked to do otherwise. May the Almighty Lord help you.

Wishing you all the best,

Miodrag Miso Vujovic
Reporter, Belgrade

[Serbian Translation Services]

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