the Serbian Orthodox Church
December 23, 2004
FROM THE MEETING OF THE HOLY SYNOD OF BISHOPS OF THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX
CHURCH WITH THE BISHOPS OF REPUBLIKA SRPSKA AND THE BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA
FEDERATION HELD ON DECEMBER 23, 2004 IN BELGRADE
everyone happy upcoming Christmas and New Year’s holidays, we
find it appropriate to address the general public in addition
to extending our best wishes and our blessings.
the wishes of our faithful, as their spiritual pastors, in this
pre-holiday season we are forced to express our concern regarding
the difficult situation in which our people are living in Republika
Srpska and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
more than a decade, the joy of the holiday season has been mixed
with sorrow and injustice for Orthodox Christians of Serbian nationality.
Instead of welcoming the Nativity of the Our Lord Christ with
gladness, years after the tragedy of civil war, our people are
again being tried by harsh courts and threatened with new sanctions.
most recent decisions and statements of the high representative
of the international community for Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mr. Paddy
Ashdown, made on the eve of Christmas, have horrified many, not
only the Orthodox Serbs. By his actions, which represent a violation
of human rights and denigration of the democracy we are striving
towards, the high representative, whose task is to implement and
further democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is encouraging giving
up on democracy and democratic principles.
numerous arbitrary actions implemented as if he were absolute
lord and master, of which the general public is not even aware,
Mr. Ashdown is now arbitrarily threatening to discontinue the
existence of Republika Srpska. Of the many examples of his violations
of human rights and freedoms, we will cite only two:
The crime committed against the unarmed and subsequently proven
innocent Serbian Orthodox priest Jeremija Starovlah and his son,
catechist Aleksandar, which has been condemned by the entire normal
and civilized world.
The absolutely undemocratic dismissal of persons, whether guilty
or innocent, without the right to appeal or defend themselves,
and without the right to do their jobs.
high representative is acting as if he is above the law, and as
if the Dayton Agreement, which brought peace and relative progress
in Bosnia-Herzegovina, means nothing to him. The man who is responsible
for establishing democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina is emerging
as someone who undermines peace and good will among people.
For these reasons, we call on all those responsible in Europe
and the global community to examine the facts: Who is working
toward peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina and who is creating unrest?
Who is advocating democracy, human rights and freedoms, and who
is not? Unless the appropriate authorities and institutions do
not undertake urgent and serious measures, then this people will
be forced on the basis of such “democracy” to lose all remaining
confidence in true democratic processes in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
spiritual pastors, we once again call on local political leaders
to demonstrate complete respect for the freedoms and democratic
rights of all citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
call on them to govern democratically and freely, taking care
to serve the people who elected them.
call on them to achieve consensus on general issues, protecting
the interests of all people, not political parties.
the efforts made toward peace and human rights, and a dignified
life for all Bosnia-Herzegovina, we expect the implementation
of equal standards toward all on the basis of the internationally
recognized Dayton Agreement.
send our spiritual children a message of hope, as expressed in
the Christmas message of the angels: “Glory to God in the highest,
and on Earth peace among men.”
PAVLE RECEIVES CHILDREN FROM DIOCESE
OF BACKA WITH DONATION FOR CHILANDAR MONASTERY
Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle received a group of children
from the Svetozar Markovic-Toza Elementary School in Novi Sad
in the Belgrade Patriarchate on Thursday, December 23. The children
presented His Holiness with a donation toward the restoration
of Chilandar Monastery, which they collected by painting and then
selling their original artwork. Also present at the reception
were His Grace Bishop Irinej of Backa and the children’s teacher,
Pavle welcomed the children and wished them success in their studies
so they might remain the pride of their parents and teachers.
“Whoever takes his or her responsibilities seriously now, will
continue to do so as an adult,” said His Holiness. “None of us
can chose the time in which we are born nor the people nor the
country; however, it
is exclusively up to us how we will behave in our time and in
our country.” The Patriarch reminded the children that this is
the bicentennial of the First Serbian Uprising, when our forefathers
rebelled and sacrificed themselves for freedom that we might enjoy
it today. “Their example gives us strength and guides us toward
everything that is good and honorable.” His Holiness blessed the
children and thanked them for their effort and concern for our
greatest holy shrine, Chilandar Monastery.
OF NATO JOINT FORCES AND KFOR SENIOR OFFICERS VISIT VISOKI DECANI
head of NATO's Joint Force Command based in Naples and commander
in chief of the U.S. Navy in Europe, Admiral Michael Glenn Mullen,
and his associates visited Visoki Decani Monastery today to personally
familiarize himself with measures being taken for the protection
of the Serbian cultural heritage in Kosovo and Metohija. Accompanying
Admiral Mullen to the monastery were KFOR commander in chief French
general Yves de Kermabon, German general Richard Rossmanith, the
commander of Multi-National Brigade South-West, and Italian KFOR
commanders protecting the Pec Patriarchate and Decani.
high representatives of the NATO pact were received on behalf
of the abbot of Decani, Bishop Teodosije of Lipljan, by his deputy,
Fr. Sava (Janjic), who explained the situation that Serbs in Kosovo
and Metohija are living in today. "The March violence were
a huge shock to us all and Serbs are still living in fear of repeated
violence. Many have still not returned to the torched remains
of their ancestral homes. Nevertheless, we remain hopeful that
KFOR will undertake all possible measures to ensure that problems
in Kosovo and Metohija are not resolved by force but through dialogue
and the building of mutual confidence."
Sava presented the guests with copies of the book "Crucified
Kosovo" describing the destruction of Serbian Orthodox churches
and monasteries from 1999 to today with a special section on the
March violence. Fr. Sava presented Admiral Mullen with an icon
of Decani Madonna (Theotokos) as a symbol of confidence that NATO
troops would protect the remaining Orthodox Christian holy shrines
and people as well as enabling the return of all refugees. He
then guided the guests on a tour of the monastery church and acquainted
them with monastic life.
his sincere wishes for the upcoming Christmas holiday, Admiral
Mullen told the monks that KFOR troops remain fully committed
to the protection of Orthodox churches and monasteries in Kosovo,
an important part of the European and world cultural heritage.
Mullen recently assumed command of NATO's Joint Force Command
from Admiral Gregory Johnson, who in addition to local KFOR forces
personally intervened to ensure the protection of the monasteries
of Gracanica, the Pec Patriarchate and Decani during the course
of the March pogrom.
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