Information Service of
the Serbian Orthodox Church

September 24, 2004



It is with bitterness that the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church received the report of His Grace Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren that on September 21, 2004 representatives of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia border patrol advised him at the Djeneral Jankovic border crossing that he “is not allowed to enter or transit through Macedonia”. On that occasion they showed him a written decision by the government in Skoplje that clearly states that “at the request of the Macedonian Orthodox Church entry and transit through Macedonian territory to members of the Serbian Orthodox Church whose names appear on the attached list is prohibited”. Bishop Artemije was also able to see the list of names and established that it includes the names of at least twenty bishops of the Serbian Church.

The bitterness of the Holy Assembly of Bishops as a result of this practice, which is not new but has been going on for a decade, of the undemocratic government in Skoplje to humiliate and turn back Serbian bishops, priests, monks and nuns from border crossings with FYR Macedonia is all the greater because, despite everything, the August reassurances of Skoplje officials that domestic legislation is being built on the highest European Union standards was believed. It has turned out that they plan to build their “European perspective” on the quicksand of lies and violence.

The Holy Assembly of Bishops is especially shocked by the lack of interest and indolence of the Belgrade government with respect to the protection of elementary human rights of the citizens of Serbia, in this case, a bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church. It is incomprehensible that not one official in Belgrade has yet found it appropriate to direct a single word of protest to Skoplje.

Finally, the decision of the government in Skoplje to discriminate against the hierarchs and clergy of the Serbian Orthodox church “at the request of the Macedonian Orthodox Church” only confirms that this so-called Church is in practice a political institution par excellence, and that it was established and exists only for political interests.


On Friday, September 24, 2004 at the Theological Faculty of the Serbian Orthodox Church (Mije Kovacevica Street number 11b) the work of the Theological Symposium organized in honor of the ten-anniversary in office of His Grace Bishop Ignjatije of Branicevo, a regular professor at the Theological Faculty, will begin at 6:00 p.m. with a lecture by His Eminence Metropolitan Joannis Zizioulas of Pergamum, followed by a formal Academy at 7:00 p.m. The symposium will continue on Saturday and Sunday in Pozaravec in the bishop’s residence of Bishop Ignjatije.

Schedule of lectures:

Friday, 24 September, 2004 – Belgrade, Faculty of Theology of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Mije Kovacevica Street number 11b
6:00 p.m. - His Eminence Metropolitan Joannis Zizioulas of Pergamum
7:00 p.m. – Formal Academy

Saturday, September 25, 2004 in Pozarevac Cathedral, Hajduk Veljkova Street number 2
11:00 a.m. – Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Dr. Radomir Milosevic from Smederevo and Professor Stavros Jagazoglu, Athens
5:30 p.m. – His Eminence Metropolitan Joannis Zizioulas of Pergamum;

Sunday, September 26, 2004 in Pozarevac Cathedral, Hajduk Veljkova Street number 2
9:00 a.m. – Holy Hierarchal Liturgy.


On Tuesday, September 28, 2004 at 7:00 p.m. in the amphitheater of the Faculty of Machine Engineering, on the occasion of the publication of the 900th issue of “Pravoslavlje” (Orthodoxy), the periodical of the Serbian Patriarchate, the editorial board of this eminent periodical is organizing a lecture on the topic: THE CHURCH AND THE MEDIA IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM. Scheduled participants include His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral, His Grace Bishop Irinej of Backa, His Grace Bishop Grigorije of Zahumlje and Herzegovina, His Grace Bishop Porfirije of Jegar, and the editors of “Pravoslavlje”.


In search of Truth, full of Spirit, a young artist heads for the Holy Mountain (Mt. Athos) to immortalize that in which he believes and to which he aspires. Thus begins the story of a multimedia CD that is unique in our region. The Orthodox photographer, Vladimir Gogic, visits the Holy Mountain over the course of a decade in search of pictures that will connect the past, the present and the future, following the spirit of Orthodox tradition. As he walks down the mountain paths of Mt. Athos he records everything, peers into every corner, under every stone, and continues on… The eschatological and the present interweave in every scene and revitalize faith in the divine and earthly importance of the Holy Mountain.

Vladimir Gogic skillfully captures moments of everyday and eternal life on the Holy Mountain; through a photo lens he speaks with monks, kisses icons, rings the bells and prays to God. This approach allows for the prayerful composition of a sequence of scenes depicting the eternal Light of the Holy Mountain. His photographs depict all the tasks for future generations – to preserve, renew and repair what the passage of time has worn thin. All the photographs are connected in a whole called “Holy Mountain – Eternal Light”. Mr. Branislav Glisic adds a comprehensive film portrait to the sequence of photographs with an expertly chosen musical background. The pictures are accompanied by sound neither diminishing nor increasing them but accompanying them and thus creating a total experience of life on the Holy Mountain. Contributing to the complete success of this edition is a selection of texts chosen by Ljubomir Panic.


The international association Physicians Out of Love, which exists in most Orthodox countries, has recently opened a branch in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The idea to found a branch in Macedonia dates back to 2002 but could not be realized until now because the FYR Macedonia prohibited entry to bishops and clerics from other countries.

Representatives of the association from Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia gathered on September 18, 2004 in the Molika Hotel on Mt. Pelister where a branch of this association from FYR Macedonia was accepted into the international organization. This international organization works under the auspices of the Church.

After the official meeting the guests, including His Eminence Metropolitan Ignatios of Demetrias and Almyros (Volos, Greece) and His Eminence Metropolitan Kyrill of Varna and Veliki Preslav (Bulgaria), and their host, His Eminence Metropolitan Jovan of Veles and Povardarje, the Exarch of Ochrid, as well as His Grace Bishop Marko of Demvic, the Administrator of Bitolj, toured the famous churches and monasteries of Ochrid.

On Sunday morning, September 19, in the monastery of St. John Chrysostom in the village of Nizepole Holy Hierarchal Liturgy was served with Metropolitan Ignatios officiating with the concelebration of Metropolitan Kyrill and Metropolitan Jovan. Metropolitan Jovan presented the guests to the people present, wishing them welcome and success in the work of Physicians Out of Love. In his response to this warm welcome, Metropolitan Ignatios on behalf of all the guests wished that the blessing of God might always remain with Metropolitan Jovan that he might endure even more difficult challenges than those that confront him.

“We live in a country that has freedom of religious expression. We can build churches, monasteries, seminaries and other institutions. We have everything that a Church in the 21st century might desire. Nonetheless, we have come here to visit the age-old Churches. To remember that the Church was once in catacombs, just as you are now. We have come to remind that martyrdom is a valid criterion of the Church. I cannot tell you that we aspire to martyrdom; however, I emphasize, we want you to endure. This Liturgy will never be forgotten by any of us who took part in it. It is thanks to your prayer and strong faith that the heavens closed so we could serve it out in the open, for had it rained, we would not have anywhere to serve it. Even though it has been raining since our arrival yesterday and continues to rain around us now, here the sun is shining because God wants to show His presence among us. Rest assured, dear Bishop, that you are on the right path. You are the yeast that will make all the dough rise. We would be pleased if others, too, who are still in apostasy would come to this gathering where we are present to see the fruits and that we might rejoice with them. We Greeks have a saying that children only throw stones at trees that bear fruit. You have shown us all this fruit-bearing and you have become a model and example from which we all are learning how to truly witness the Church of Christ.”

Metropolitan Ignatios presented Metropolitan Jovan with an icon of the Most Holy Theotokos of Jerusalem plated in gold and silver.

After Liturgy those present took part in a religious procession to the location where a paraklis (chapel) dedicated to Christ, the Life-bearing Source is being built. Metropolitan Ignatios consecrated the cornerstone of the paraklis with the concelebration of Bishop Marko of Dremvic.

The physicians, dentists, pharmacists and other medical workers who came to Nizepole from several Balkan countries were deeply touched by the manner in which the Orthodox Archdiocese of Ochrid is witness to its faith, and all of them expressed the conviction that the next congress of Physicians Out of Love, to be held in October 2005, should be held in Bitolj.

Physicians Out of Love participates in various international philanthropic missions in Africa and India. As well, they help to finance many projects of medical protection in the Orthodox Church.

At the Liturgy served in the monastery of St. John Chrysostom in Bitolj, on the basis of a request to be received addressed to the Orthodox Archdiocese of Ochrid, Borjan Vitanov, previously a priest in the apostatic MPC, was received into the priesthood. Father Borjan left his spiritually destructive apostasy and joined the Body of Christ, God’s Church, which on the territory of FYR Macedonia is called the Orthodox Archdiocese of Ochrid.

When asked by a reporter whether this spoils good relations between the Bulgarian and Macedonian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Kyrill of Varna and Veliki Preslav responded that there have never been any relations between these two churches. The Macedonian church has been in apostasy for many years and has never been recognized by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

The sole canonical Church in FYR Macedonia is the Archdiocese of Ochrid. It is wise of the Macedonian Church to remain silent because we, too, are silent regarding many matters relating to them.


1. Participation of Serbian representatives in the work of the international Commission for directing restoration of churches in Kosovo and Metohija, which was formed on August 18 in Pristina, has been discontinued followed the emergence of negative trends in its work to date.

Since the Commission has deviated from recommendations of the Council of Europe and begun to implement its own concept in the restoration process which differs from that agreed upon, Bishop Artemije of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija publicized that the Memorandum signed for the purpose of defining the restoration process was no longer valid, as well as that "all possible decisions and acts by the Commission dated after the letter sent to UNMIK on September 13, 2004 no longer have legal validity nor are they binding in any respect for the Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija".

With this the international Commission for directing restoration of churches in Kosovo and Metohija ignominiously ended its mission, missing and failing to achieve the target for which it was created. The process of restoration of churches and monasteries will not take place in the manner planned, i.e. through the Commission for restoration; instead, new modalities will have to be found. In the meanwhile, without waiting for the definition of new mechanisms for restoration, the Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija has begun restoration of the destroyed monasteries, starting work on the monasteries of Devic and Holy Archangels from its own humble means through its Rade Neimar diocese construction center. Work is also expected to begin within days on the monastery of Zociste.

2. "The initiative of the Council of Europe embodied in the Independent international Commission formed on September 10, 2004 in Paris by the Council of Europe, the European Commission and UNMIK, as well as the document published at that time under number AT04 224 rev2 dated 15.09.2004 are unacceptable from the perspective of the Serbian people and the Serbian Orthodox Church as the creator, owner and user of the Serbian cultural heritage," stated Bishop Artemije in his letter to the Independent international Commission. "We will not allow the implementation of such initiatives on the ground and we will decisively raise our voice against the usurpation of our rights by any organization or initiative with respect to the protection and care of our cultural heritage," the Bishop said in the aforementioned letter.

"If such initiatives are implemented on the ground against our will and without our agreement," concluded the Bishop, "this will be yet another in a series of acts of violence committed in Kosovo and Metohija during the last five years, and a clear testimonial of the intentions and character of those who do this".

The primary objections presented by the Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija to the above-mentioned document, published when the Independent international Commission was formed, relate to "circumventing and minimizing the role of the Serbian state and the Serbian Orthodox Church in the protection of their own cultural heritage in Kosovo and Metohija".

"Whence the intent and desire to take care of the entire heritage in Kosovo and Metohija," asks Bishop Artemije in his letter to the Independent Commission, "when there is a living and existing host in the house, and that is Belgrade with its institutions, the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian state?

"Who, after all, can take better care of this heritage and protect it than those who created it, who are its owners, guardians, who live in it, who are ready to die for it? Certainly, according to the laws of God and humanity and history, the mandate to care for its legacy, to protect it, to make decisions about it belongs first of all to the Serbian people, the Serbian state and the Serbian Church. And only then those to whom the Serbian people, under certain conditions, through its previously listed institutions, entrusts it."

Even though the cited Commission document states that it was formed "as a direct and effective contribution to the direction and harmonization of the efforts of the international community to preserve the cultural heritage in Kosovo", Bishop Artemije asks the sincere and responsible question "is it possible for the cultural heritage in Kosovo to be preserved by those under whose rule for the past five years in Kosovo and Metohija the greatest monuments of Christian culture have been destroyed and desecrated, that is, by the international community personified by UNMIK?

"If the international community has not succeeded in preventing the continued destruction of Christian churches, Serbian churches and monasteries during the course of five years, from June 1999 to today and if despite the presence of tens of thousands of the best equipped and trained soldiers, during a time of peace, after the end of war hostilities and armed conflicts, 150 Orthodox Christian monasteries and churches have been destroyed and damaged, how then will the international community by forming this Commission influence 'the preservation of cultural heritage in Kosovo and Metohija'? Do we dare, before God and before history, to entrust this mandate to the international community, personified now in numerous initiatives and commission, which are being formed? The answer is clear, and it cries out from every victim of every crime committed against the Serbian people, its churches and monasteries, and its property over the last five years under the administration of the international community."

In his letter to the Independent Commission, Bishop Artemije is also sharply critical of the manipulation that is being carried out in official documents of the Commission with the term "Kosovo cultural heritage" or "Kosovo heritage".

The concept of "Kosovo cultural heritage" is a mythological monster, which neither exists nor can exist.

"A cultural heritage," emphasized Bishop Artemije in his letter, "is a creation by an individual people, not a geographical or regional concept. It is created by people who are members of specific peoples in various historical epochs. So, too, in Kosovo and Metohija, there is a Serbian cultural heritage, which is furthermore an Orthodox Christian legacy, an endowment left to the present generation of the Serbian people by their ancestors from previous generations to guard, to respect and by studying it, to learn who they are, what they are worth, where are their roots, their goals, where are their well springs and their river mouths.

"In addition to the Serbian heritage, there is also an Albanian one and so on. A Kosovo heritage cannot exist for the simple reason that some sort of people of Kosovo does not exist, has never existed and can never exist. It is an artificial concept without basis in history, in real life, which will vanish before it ever comes into being. In Kosovo and Metohija throughout history there have been Serbs, Albanians, Roma and other peoples but never any so-called Kosovars."

In conclusion, Bishop Artemije emphasizes that "the only way for the international community to prove the sincerity of its intentions and its readiness to stop implementing a policy of double standards is for it to first find and capture the criminals responsible for the destruction of 150 Serbian holy shrines, not one of whom has been caught in the past five years, as well as the criminals responsible for a multitude of other crimes committed against the Serbian people (murders, robberies, destruction, etc.), almost none of whom have been caught. To ensure, consequently, a safe and secure life for all, the return of 250,000 Serbs and other Albanians driven out. To prevent crimes against Serbs, Serbian property and Serbian heritage from happening over and over as in the past.

"To enable compensation for damages to destroyed churches and monasteries and their rebuilding. To do the same for other objects owned by Serbs: houses, apartments, businesses, etc. To enable vacating of usurped Serbian property and create conditions for it to be returned to its real owners, and that they can enjoy it without obstacles.

"Only then will conditions exist for talks on other activities of the international communities, on confidence building, on joint work on the protection of the Serbian cultural heritage."


The Serbian Orthodox Church and the Royal House of Karadjordjevic commemorated this great and significant anniversary of Serbdom with a series of prayers and ceremonies.

On Tuesday, September 21, 2004, on the feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos in the Belgrade Cathedral, after Holy Liturgy His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle, with the concelebration of the clergy, representatives of the Russian and Greek Churches, the abbots and monks of numerous monasteries, served a short memorial service to Serbian King Peter I the Liberator of blessed memory. In addition to numerous faithful also praying for the soul of the late King were the following members of the Royal House of Karadjordjevic: HRH Crown Prince Alexander, Princess Katherine, Prince Filip, Princess Jelisaveta, Princess Linda and Prince Mihajlo. Responses during the Holy Liturgy and the memorial service were sung by the First Belgrade Singing Society, which also performed one hundred years ago at the coronation under the direction of Stevan St. Mokranjac.

His Holiness emphasized that King Peter was an exceptional individual and a King in the truest sense, sharing the fate of his people on its stauropaschal and golgothic path.

After Holy Liturgy and the memorial service the members of the Royal Family visited the King Peter I Elementary School next to Belgrade Cathedral. HRH Crown Prince Alexander laid a wreath at the memorial to King Peter of blessed memory.

With the blessing of His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle, HRH Crown Prince Alexander and members of the Royal House of Karadjordjevic prepared a formal reception for eminent guests and reporters in the Belgrade Patriarchate.

Members of the Royal House and senior state officials of the Republic of Serbia, including Serbian President Boris Tadic, then attended the showing of the film “The Coronation of King Peter I” in the Jugoslovenska Kinoteka (Yugoslav Film Theatre) in Belgrade

To the sound of the bells of the church of St. George in Oplenac – the endowment of King Petar I Karadjordjevic – and accompanied by a Honor Guard of the Serbia and Montenegro Army Guard Brigade, HRH Crown Prince Alexander, Princess Katherine and Prince Filip paid their respects to King Peter, laying a wreath on the grave of the late King.

[Serbian Translation Services]

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