Catholic and Orthodox bishops favour 'good-faith' solution in Kosovo
Posted on July 04, 2006
A group of Catholic and Orthodox bishops asked Serbian and Kosovar leaders
to negotiate in "good faith" over the political future of Kosovo, the
breakaway Serbian province currently under U.N. administration.
The bishops also called for the safe return of 200,000 Serbs and other
minorities who left after major fighting broke out in Kosovo in the early
"Only through a real dialogue of mutual respect and good-faith negotiations
can justice become a reality in Kosovo," said a statement issued by the
Joint Commission of Orthodox and Catholic Bishops meeting in Washington
The commission is composed of U.S. Catholic bishops and Orthodox bishops
from Canada and the United States and deals with ways in which the two
churches can cooperate on practical issues. The U.S. bishops' Department of
Communications issued a June 28 news release about the meeting.
Political leaders of the majority ethnic Albanian population of Kosovo
favor independence while Serbian leaders want it to remain part of Serbia.
Complicating the issue is that most Albanians are Muslim while Serbs are
The United Nations has been in charge of Kosovo since 1999 after NATO
launched air attacks against Serbian forces accused of "ethnic cleansing"
in efforts to suppress rebel fighters wanting independence. The NATO
attacks drove out Serbian forces but did not ease the ethnic and religious
In February, U.N.-brokered talks got under way between Serbian and Kosovar
leaders to determine the region's future political status.
The joint committee of bishops supported the call of the Holy Synod of the
Serbian Orthodox Church that the political rights of Serbs and other
minorities be guaranteed in any accord.
The committee said it was also concerned about the destruction of churches,
monasteries, cemeteries and other religious sites in Kosovo. It asked that
these sites be restored and called for the protection of all religious
sites in Kosovo.
The committee asked the six-nation leadership group - consisting of the
United States and five European countries - to foster negotiations.
This was the 22nd meeting of the joint commission, chaired by Orthodox
Bishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada and Archbishop Oscar H. Lipscomb of
Mobile, Ala. The next meeting was scheduled for Oct. 3-5, 2007, at the
Orthodox Christian Mission Center in St. Augustine, Fla.
At a separate ecumenical dialogue earlier in June, Catholic and Orthodox
theologians continued their series of discussions on the Catholic and
Orthodox understandings of primacy and how bishops exercise authority in
The dialogue was conducted by the North American Orthodox-Catholic
Theological Consultation June 5-7 in Brookline, Mass.
The consultation is sponsored by the Standing Conference of the Canonical
Orthodox Bishops in the Americas, the U.S. bishops' Committee on Ecumenical
and Interreligious Affairs and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.