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    LET US BE STRONG IN OUR FAITH AND STRONG IN OUR BROTHERLY LOVE - An INTERVIEW of Bishop Irinej of Novi Sad and Backa (Serbian Orthodox Church) The Serbian
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 12, 2009
      LET US BE STRONG IN OUR FAITH AND STRONG IN OUR BROTHERLY LOVE - An
      INTERVIEW of Bishop Irinej of Novi Sad and Backa (Serbian Orthodox
      Church)

      The Serbian Orthodox Church,
      Diocese of Bačka
      Announcements
      December 26, 2008
      An Interview of His Grace, Dr. Irinej, Bishop of Bačka with Mr.
      Milorad Vučelić, the main Editor-In-Chief of PEČAT.
      (This interview was published in the 44th issue, p. 17-25, of
      December 26, 2008.)


      1. Your Grace, you attended the funeral of the Patriarch of
      Moscow and of all Russia in Moscow. What are your impressions of the
      country you have returned from where the current opinion prevails
      that a whole epoch in the history of Russia has come to an end with
      the death of Alexis II?
      Yes, I attended the funeral of Patriarch Alexis of blessed repose and
      before that I paid him a formal visit together with Metropolitan
      Amfilohije at the end of September. We met him again in
      Constantinople in mid-October at the gathering of all the heads of
      the local Orthodox Churches. At the time we had no inkling that our
      next and last meeting here on earth would be by his catafalque at the
      Church of Christ the Savior. I have been residing temporarily in
      Moscow for the past two decades because of church affairs and inter-
      church meetings. Prior to 1988, when I represented our Church at the
      anniversary of the first millennium of the Baptism of Russia, I
      followed the state of affairs in the Russian Orthodox Church and in
      Russian – formerly Soviet - society through Russian uncensored
      literature, initially published in the "Samizdat" and later in
      the "Tamizdat" in the West, and through several dissident journals
      and newspapers (Pyсckaя, Посев, Гранй, Континент, et.al.) This might
      sound immodest, but I consider myself well informed with regard to
      Russia and Greece.
      From my perspective, former and present Russia differs like heaven
      and earth, spiritually speaking. I am amazed at the speedy and all-
      encompassing spiritual rebirth of the Russian people. The Soviet era
      with its most brutal persecution of the Church, by its struggle to
      uproot Christianity from the most expansive regions of the biggest
      nation on earth, lasted considerably longer than the persecution in
      the more subdued version of communist rule and its atheistic
      indoctrination in our country as well as in the other eastern and
      south-eastern European countries. Nevertheless, Orthodoxy with its
      Christian culture has triumphantly reclaimed the soul of the Russian
      people and the public life of the Russian state overnight, so to
      speak. In my opinion, the greatest merit belongs to the Russian
      Orthodox Church under the wise and moderate leadership of Patriarch
      Alexis, and this is immediately followed by the leadership of the
      Russian government, which had suddenly found itself in Orthodox
      Christianity, and consequently, especially after the Yeltsin period,
      understood that the future of Russia was not primarily guaranteed by
      its nuclear defense, but by the Orthodox faith and its Christian
      culture, Christian values, and ethical code.
      Indeed, an entire era has come to an end with the death of Patriarch
      Alexis. As a Bishop, he worked during the harsh times the Church
      endured under Nikita Khrushchev. Under the new conditions of freedom,
      he had to deal with a new burden, with inconceivable new temptations
      and provocations, the schism in particular. The journalist Boris Klin
      writes the following in the daily newspaper, Izvestija, dated the 7th
      of December: "For the first time, the Church was left to itself.
      There was no Orthodox czar in which relationships could be harmonized
      and where one could find support by the experiences of a predecessor
      or through the Byzantine legacy. There was no dictate by the
      government or by a specific authority to govern the Church, that is,
      the Synod or the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the
      Soviet Union. There were no cruel persecutions. However, Alexis II
      had to establish a new relationship of the Church with the
      authorities, the society, and with the media …"
      In spite of the deep wounds in the body of the Church, sustained from
      the recent Soviet period and from the present, in completely new
      historical circumstances, Alexis carried out a struggle and a
      miracle – he preserved the spiritual unity of the Church. He also
      kept the Church intact in an atmosphere of disintegration of the
      state, of an empire to be more correct, with the Ukraine being the
      exception; even here, a great majority remained faithful to him. He
      elevated the standing of the Church to unprecedented heights
      undreamed of, and he established a relationship of trust and
      cooperation with the new, Christian, democratic, and patriotic
      leadership of the state. He restored faith, hope, and spiritual
      strength to the people and to society. In addition to this, he
      preserved and strengthened the trust of the members of other
      religions and confessions towards the Orthodox Church that represents
      the majority of the Russian faithful.
      The era of Alexis II denotes the return of the Russian person to his
      Church and the great revival of faith and spirit. During the Soviet
      Union there were less than 40 active churches in Moscow. Today there
      are 872. Then, there was only one active monastery in Moscow; now
      there are 8 and 16 antechapels. In 1987 there were 6,800 Orthodox
      parishes officially registered in all of Russia. Today their number
      is 29,268. There were 19 monasteries in all; today there are 804 and
      over a thousand if you include the antechapels and the hermitages.
      There were scores of bishops; today there are 203 hierarchs. There
      were three theological academies and seminaries; today there are 87
      schools of higher theological education. Presently, there are 11,051
      Sunday schools attached to parishes. And so forth…
      However, more impressive than these statistical figures, is the
      spiritual course and direction Alexis took. In this new era of
      freedom of the Church, many expected a new edition of the Church:
      modernistic and ultra-liberal, whereas others expected a Church like
      a large sect: conservationist. Instead, he bequeathed to Russia and
      to the world a Church faithful to Herself, to her Tradition and
      purpose, and yet, open to all – both young and old alike, rightists
      and leftists, conservatives and liberals alike.
      2. To what extent does the demise of the Head of the Russian
      Orthodox Church influence the unity of Orthodoxy on the whole? For
      the impression exists that the unity has been endangered through the
      periodical conflicts between the Patriarchates of Constantinople and
      Moscow. What is the role of the Serbian Orthodox Church in solving
      the pan-Orthodox problems, the conflicting issues of Phanar and
      Moscow in particular?
      Patriarch Alexis was first a great supporter and a zealous worker for
      the unity of the Church in Russia, second and in equal measure, for
      universal Orthodoxy, and finally, for the unity of all Christians in
      truth and love. It is true that there have been episodic
      misunderstandings and disagreements on a larger and smaller scale
      between the Contantinople and Moscow Patriarchates on certain issues.
      These, however, were exclusively canonical and jurisdictional issues,
      never dogmatic or of an essential nature. Besides this, I must
      emphasize that these disputes and dissensions have never led to an
      interruption in the Eucharistic and canonical relationship between
      the two Churches. The Churches are gradually and patiently working at
      overcoming these difficulties through brotherly dialogue although
      this may seem somewhat protracted. I must stress one more thing: the
      nature of disputes and, if you will, of conflicts in the Church
      differs significantly from the nature of secular, political,
      international, ideological ones et alia. With this assertion, I am in
      no way pardoning or disparaging the damage of inter-church frictions,
      but I wish to point out the harm of inadequate secular interpretation
      of such frictions often present in the media and popular amongst self-
      appointed confession analysts and half-baked inquisitors, all in the
      name of personal opposition to and estrangement from the Church,
      masked in a false adherence to principles.
      In the past two years, the relationship between the two Churches has
      been shaken primarily by the conflict about the jurisdiction over
      Estonia. This has been resolved more or less through the
      acknowledgment of a dual jurisdiction, parallel to each other,
      between Constantinople and Moscow. However, the canonical status of
      the heads of the Church there has not yet been resolved –
      Constantinople recognizes one hierarch as the autonomous Archbishop
      of Estonia whilst Moscow recognizes another hierarch as the
      autonomous Estonian Metropolitan. Although this dispute remains the
      subject of dissension and negotiation, it has not been an obstacle to
      the con-celebration of both hierarchs at the meeting of the Heads of
      the Orthodox Churches in Constantinople last October, just as it
      posed no obstacle for them to con-celebrate with Patriarch
      Bartholomew and with the recently reposed Patriarch Alexis on the
      same occasion.
      I am hopeful that this problem will be overcome in the near future. A
      change in the course taken in this dispute is highly unlikely
      independent of the heir to Patriarch Alexis. It is interesting to
      note that His Beatitude was born in Estonia of Germanic-Estonian
      descent, that he was the Bishop in Estonia for thirty years, and that
      he rescued the Piuticki Monastery from the Soviets…
      Our Church is always ready to serve the all-Orthodox ecumenical
      unity, and this issue as well. The extent of Her contribution is
      something one should address others and elsewhere, perhaps in
      Constantinople and in Moscow.
      3. The events of the past few months lead to the conclusion,
      maybe an erroneous one, that there is not a complete unity within the
      Serbian Orthodox Church, at least as far as the Church hierarchs are
      concerned. Your Grace has also taken an active part in the disputes
      at the Synod about the election of a new patriarch. According to you,
      are the disagreements between the hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox
      Church a result of their differing approaches to solving the acute
      problems of the Church and of society; or is there perhaps truth to
      the speculation that the Church has become the center of a struggle
      of opposing structures from outside the Church, which includes
      intelligence agencies?
      How do you define disagreement and how do you define complete unity?
      I will start with the latter. There is a complete unity between the
      hierarchs, the clergy, and the faithful even when they have very
      opposing views on certain issues. For Church unity is neither a
      monolithic ideology, nor an authoritative leveling instrument, nor an
      anthropocentric given; Church unity is an ontological unity, a God-
      Man unity, a unity through grace; one which comes forth from the
      communion of the Eucharistic Church. This unity is not impaired by
      freedom or by the "pluralism" of opinions.
      On the contrary, it is a given and at the same time a task to be
      achieved. Unity is the point of commencement but it is also developed
      in the spirit of universality. If this were not so, would there even
      be a need for dialogue in the Church? Would the institution of the
      Church synods be in existence? Would these synods not be reduced to
      decorative advisory bodies of a single decision-making person,
      whoever he may be and whatever historical title he may carry?
      Different viewpoints do not impair unity. They strengthen unity
      insofar as they lead to the universal victory of the viewpoint, which
      sides closest with the Church, a viewpoint, which becomes the most
      salvific one. The trouble starts when an individual or a group
      considers its vision of reality as an absolute and does not allow for
      concessions even in the fullness of the Church's synod. This is how
      heresies emerge (for the primary meaning of the word heresy is the
      selection of a partial truth instead of the complete truth).
      Sometimes paradoxically, those who are otherwise against absolutism
      in the Church, adopt a fiercely papal behavior, a behavior
      personified in the pretentiousness of Roman bishops already for
      centuries.
      All this, of course, does not mean that the ethos or order of the
      Church can be equated to secular democratic principles or that truth
      is obtained by outvoting. Truth, in the spirit of love, is even less
      attainable through the abolishment or disparagement of the ecumenical
      nature of the life of the Church. This ecumenical nature of the
      Church applied in practice, is usually conducted as an ecumenical
      methodology, that is, in the aftermath of all discussions,
      disagreements and conflicts, the ecclesiastical synod is both able
      and obliged to express the Church, through the Holy Spirit, as the
      true and truthful emergence of the Kingdom of God here and now,
      within us and among us.
      It is commonly known that there have been and that there still are
      two opposing positions in the Synod of the Fathers of our Church
      about the situation, which has ensued by the deep old age, frailty
      and illness of His Beatitude, the Patriarch. According to some, the
      Patriarch's request to retire from active duty should be given
      consideration and a new Patriarch should be elected. This is not
      unprecedented in the history of the universal Church or in the
      practice of our local Church. It is rather in the interest of the
      Church and for the sake of Her full and appropriate functioning.
      According to others it is more prudent to wait until further notice
      out of respect for the merits of His Beatitude who has served the
      Church in troubled and uneasy times, and, for the sake of avoiding
      discontent, distrust and dissension.
      The second position prevailed. The opinion of each bishop, myself
      included, is relatively well known. However, does this justify verbal
      clashes in the media? I do not think so. The future is in front of
      us; time will show whether we were able to do better but chose not to
      or did not have the boldness, or whether under the circumstances we
      have done everything within our possibilities. God Himself does not
      expect from us more than what is possible, as His Beatitude himself
      has often pointed out. In any case, we do not know what sort of
      surprises life has in store for us.
      I do not believe that any forces outside the Church or any
      other "centers of power", not even the infamous secret services, are
      able to annul or impair the freedom which Christ has given us once
      and for all. It is possible for an individual or for certain
      individuals to overlook their responsibilities and obligations toward
      God's Church but the Church as a theanthropic ecumenical organism has
      always submitted to God rather than to people, as Holy Scripture
      tells us. After all, we do not philosophize about the Church: we
      believe in the Church because we believe in the Triune God.
      4. You have likewise received the letter from Bishop Gregory of
      Zahum-Herzegovina and you are acquainted with the series of his
      announcements and interviews. There is the impression that a selected
      campaign is unraveling in our Church, which existed only in the daily
      political life of Serbia until recently and which we can hardly be
      proud of. Do you intend to respond to Bishop Gregory?
      Only personally, in a direct encounter, and under no circumstances
      through the press. I received his letter personally and not through
      the media. My possible comments to his letter are redundant, even
      inappropriate, for he has publicly explained everything he had wished
      to achieve through his letter. Whoever is interested in it has an
      already established opinion.
      5. According to Your Grace's opinion can the actual events that
      have occurred in the Serbian Orthodox Church be considered as an
      attempt to destroy the most important institutions of our country by
      certain structures in society, so that in Serbia not even one stone
      would be left unturned?
      In my opinion, one cannot view it this way. I hope that I am not so
      naïve as to be ignorant of the existence of "certain structures", as
      you delicately put it, for whom the Church's public activity and
      social influence no matter how small it may be, pose a greater threat
      than everything else in the world, and, who would therefore, if they
      only could, banish the Church into deeper and farther catacombs than
      the earlier anti-christs and Church persecutors, beginning with Nero,
      and Diocletian to Hitler and Stalin. However, to their misfortune and
      to our joy – they cannot accomplish this.
      However, one should not underestimate them for they slander our
      Church to powerful foreigners and invite them to disdain and to
      condemn our Church; all of this under the mask of slogans of
      democracy and in the name of "civilized society". (As one of the
      worst examples, I will cite, the recent incoherent accusation of
      Sonja Biserka and her organization that amounts to nothing short
      of "hate talk".) But they are strong only when we Christians are
      weak – weak in our faith and weak in our love for our brethren. In
      order to overcome them, we need to overcome ourselves not them, that
      is, we must overcome our own fainheartedness rather than their
      disbelief.
      6. The faithful and all of the Serbian people to a large degree
      are confused because of the alleged urgency by which the Serbian
      Orthodox Church had to elect a new patriarch.
      The Church was not forced and that is why She did not elect one. In
      asking this question you rightly guard yourself by correctly using
      the term "alleged". All sorts of things occur allegedly but not
      actually. Personally, I am more inclined toward the opinion that it
      would have been more advantageous to the Church had there been an
      election of a new head of the Church – not as a "matter of urgency"
      or from external dictates but because of the internal needs of the
      Church – which, however, has not happened. The Synod has made its
      decision. This is the current reality we live in, we move in, and
      exist in, without any faintheartedness and complaints but with faith
      and in hope. We as Christians need to be thankful to God and grateful
      for His dispensation, whether through Grace, or through His
      permission, or His actual condescension toward our weaknesses and our
      shortcomings. We pray: "Our Father….., Thy Will be done", and
      not, "Our Father….., our will be done", or, " Our Father….., may our
      will be done".
      7. There is more frequent talk about the "unacceptable
      politicising of the Serbian Orthodox Church". However, when one
      considers, for example, the Russian Orthodox Church, one is bound to
      notice that in the past two decades the state and Church diplomacy
      have acted in conjunction with each other in many areas in the
      Russian Federation. In our country, however, there is the predominant
      view that the Serbian Orthodox Church is practically the only
      institution in Serbia that is protecting our national interests
      today. What are the obstacles for the members of the Church and
      government authorities to act in unanimity, at least when vital
      government and national interests are at stake?
      The "politicizing" of our Church and the "clericalization" of our
      society represent one example of the notorious and, regretfully,
      deliberate lies, which our opponents operate with. For our people on
      the whole those are merely conceptual nouns, that is, they do not
      really exist (according to the formal census, half a percent of the
      population believe this in addition to the four and a half percent of
      those people who out of personal reasons abstained from expressing an
      opinion), and among the so-called intellectual elite, an
      insignificant minority maintain this view. Out of inexplicable (or
      maybe explicable) reasons, our opponents completely rule the Serbian
      media, as though they were the absolute majority expressing the
      opinion of the majority of people democratically.
      The separation of Church and state – like in the present day European
      Union, Europe, and democratic world at large – does not entail, as
      they think or as they claim to think, the banishment of the Church
      from society, or Her greater or lesser marginalization, but rather
      the recognition of separate authorities ("autonomous ingerence")
      along with the internal independence of the Church and of the modern
      laic state. It further means the need for mutual cooperation in all
      areas of mutual significance and for the general good.
      You are correct with regard to Russia. Present day Russia can serve
      as an example and as a model to Serbia when we talk about the
      relationship between the state and the Church. Russia is not the only
      example, or model for us. You have Germany, Austria, and many other
      European countries that can serve as an example, even France.
      We have an example in our closest neighbor. I am deliberately citing
      the neighboring Croatia, which is without a doubt orientated towards
      the European Union. (The time has come for us, who have had a state
      since ancient times, to envy the Croats without guile…) But is there
      a better example and model closer to home than the Srpska Republic
      that is of the same faith and blood?
      8. Lately, there has been much talk about the different
      opinions of the Church hierarchs regarding ecumenism. Why are certain
      circles claiming that this issue currently takes priority in the
      Serbian Orthodox Church when it is commonly known that the Church has
      been involved in the ecumenical dialogue for a long time now?
      This question deserves a special answer. However, for now I will
      answer briefly. The term ecumenism is used twofold. For some it
      stands primarily for Church-faith relativism and syncretism, a theory
      about the "branches" of Christianity and similar, and rightly shudder
      at this type of ecumenism. Others understand ecumenism to be mainly a
      culture of dialogue and see it as an imperative to bear witness to
      the faith of the ancient Church, in the service of reestablishing the
      unity of the Church (maximalistic perpective) or of bringing closer
      that, which is held in common (minimalistic perspective).
      Our Church accepts this second version of ecumenism, which is in the
      spirit of faithfulness to the Gospel and rejects the first version.
      The Church is engaged in the promotion of rapprochement, cooperation,
      and currently at bearing witness, which can be realized, with a view
      of the unity that existed in the first millennium, and an emphasis on
      the ancient Church of the Holy Fathers and of the Ecumenical Councils
      as the precepts of both faith and life.
      9. The impression exists that our media have played a central
      role in an attempt to destroy the good reputation of the Serbian
      Orthodox Church. To what extent, however, are the Church hierarchs
      themselves responsible for the Church becoming the subject of media
      sensationalism?
      I agree with your statement about the less glorious role of the media
      in their attempt to destroy the good reputation of the Church and
      will give you a laconic answer. Certain representatives of the Church
      are responsible. Some are careless, some are naïve, and there are
      some, unfortunately, who are far from naïve.
      10. It appears that in recent history there has not been a good
      rapport between the Serbian Orthodox Church and the secular media. Is
      there a way for an improvement?
      It appears this way but it really is not so. There have been and
      there still are some shining exceptions and good examples. I will
      make a brief mention of the writings of Mirjana Kuburović or of
      Milorad Ćirilović of Politika with regard to church issues, and there
      are many others. (On the present course that Politika has taken with
      reference to the Church I will decline to comment.) Would it be
      inappropriate for me to highlight your former merits for the series
      of the Orthodox Primer, which lasted for several years? Without your
      good will and support an entire friendly team would achieve nothing,
      nor could I for that matter.
      Today's recipe? The media must take the Church much more seriously
      and church dignitaries must take the media much more seriously.
      11. It is not an easy task to be the Bishop of the Diocese of
      Bačka nowadays. The separatist tendencies of the regional authorities
      are increasingly forceful. Does the Serbian Orthodox Church have
      sufficient strength to demonstrate to the people the dangerous
      consequences such a division would bring about, especially in the
      region of Vojvodina?
      She does.
      12. Kosovo and Metohija are an integral part of the life of every
      Orthodox Serb, just the way every Serb is permanently connected to
      Kosovo and Metohija. Does the content of this statement, which the
      Serbian Orthodox Church has always maintained, and which is very
      logical, pose a problem to the fact that the collective spirit of the
      people is being damaged by subjective affirmation and by individual
      isolationism?
      Subjectivism and isolationism exist. However, somewhere at the bottom
      of one's soul, invisible to the sacrilegious eyes of the intruder
      from outside, the Orthodox Serb continues to live his Kosovo life,
      the holy oath and ideals of St. Lazar. This will remain so. No
      malicious derision can do any harm.
      13. In the past twenty years, in spite of everything, the Serbian
      Orthodox Church has to some extent re-established Her influence on
      society. One of the results of this has been the return of religious
      instruction in schools. Nevertheless, it appears that the educational
      program that allows for a choice between religious and civil
      instruction is creating a new division in Serbian society, which the
      youngest population in our country is now exposed to.
      Religious instruction is of paramount significance in the formation
      of our future generations. It signifies nothing less than the
      foundation of the future of the Church and of the people. The choice
      between religious instruction and an alternative secular subject is
      unavoidable. Both the Church and the state respect everyone's right
      to their faith or to their rejection of faith. This choice does not
      create a division. The division is preemptive. It is the Church's
      obligation to develop a charismatic religious program. "Civil"
      instruction (as if the faithful were not citizens!) will harm no one
      if properly done. It is a mistake to think that an alternative and
      secular subject would act as an "anti religious" program.
      14. Was religious instruction introduced too early? There are not
      enough religion teachers, even in your Diocese. Professors of Serbian
      language and literature end up teaching religion also. Once the
      circumstances were achieved at the end of the last century, was the
      Serbian Orthodox Church equipped well enough to take on the role She
      was allotted?
      Religious instruction was not introduced too early. It would be more
      accurate to say that it was introduced somewhat late. One could
      hardly expect to have sufficient religion teachers following more
      than fifty years of an enforced separation between the Church and the
      school. However, this problem will soon be resolved. Around two
      thousand young men and women are studying theology; thus the teaching
      staff is practically already well supplied.
      One should not neglect the fact though that some professors of
      Serbian language and literature, and other professors with a humanist
      educational background have demonstrated greater competency in
      teaching religion than some theologians.
      The Serbian Orthodox Church is always prepared for Her role, or more
      exactly, for Her mission.
      15. Although more people (especially young people) are attending
      church more frequently, certain church dignitaries have observed that
      the percentage of genuine Orthodox faithful do not exceed the three
      to four percentile of the population. Does the return of Serbs to the
      Church out of "sentimental-psychological" and "national-ideological"
      reasons concern Your Grace?
      Serbs like any other people are mostly believers. A certain
      percentage of them regularly participate in the liturgical life of
      the Church but this does not mean that the rest are not believers. It
      is not for us but for God to judge who is a genuine believer and who
      is not.
      Our Savior Himself praised the faith of a pagan Roman officer, and He
      said, moreover, that He had not found such faith even in Israel.
      However, Serbs are not pagans (except for some which is rare, very
      rare). Examples of great faith, found where some self-
      contented "zealous" persons would not even suspect, are abundantly
      described in the Gospels, in the lives of the saints, in the history
      of the Church, and in our immediate environment.
      Present day Serbs are genuinely returning to the Church, out of
      spiritual need and not for other reasons. The Church is no longer
      fashionable but is rather a desire for life.
      16. What is the relationship between the Serbian Orthodox Church,
      your Diocese in particular, and certain "nationalistic" organizations
      that have recently been the subject of many public debates in our
      country?
      I do not know exactly which organizations you are referring to. In
      the eyes of certain pretentious defenders of Europe and of the world
      from the evil Serbs and from the Serbian homeland of which I am a
      member, even the Serbian Academy of the Arts and Sciences, whose
      representatives I often work with, is considered a nationalistic
      organization. The following are considered even worse than that: the
      Movement of Svetozar Miletić or the fans of the Association of the
      Freedom Wars of Serbia of 1912-1918, whose meetings I gladly attend.
      And what would they say about the students who belong to the Dveri
      Srpskih where I have frequently been as a guest of the Engineering
      Faculty? (Although I do not wish to have any contact with them
      presently because they have involved themselves of late with groups
      inclined towards certain schismatics currently rebelling against the
      incumbent Bishop of Žiča. It appears that they have forgotten that
      membership of Dveri does not enable them to teach the faith. This
      duty is performed by the bishop or by those he imparts his blessing
      to do so.)
      Once one extremely zealous pro-autonomist falsely accused me of
      providing space in the Diocese of Bačka for a certain National
      Formation. That is sheer nonsense. We love our people, and this
      school of love teaches us how to love other peoples as well, people
      with whom we live and some of whom we have as cherished friends. Our
      love to other peoples cannot and will not be demonstrated in a
      pathological way, namely through hate directed at our own people.
      17. For some time now, certain thinkers claim that the
      beginning of the 21st century will be celebrated as the "new
      renaissance", that is, the return of humanity to spiritual values.
      Does Your Grace consider the global economic crisis as an affirmation
      of this tendency in all world societies, and, do you believe that the
      crisis itself points to the futility of a worldview that in recent
      history professes the market as a basic law and the acquisition of
      material wealth as its primary aim?
      Your question already contains the correct answer; an answer I am in
      full agreement with. The return to faith and to spiritual values is
      the only possible reaction to this consumer civilization of death.
      18. Nowadays, we are confronted much more frequently with the
      popular thesis that we are living in pre-apocalyptic times. Having in
      mind that we are approaching one of the greatest Christian
      festivities, Christmas, this would then be the right moment to remind
      our readers how to discover our Lord Jesus Christ in our own hearts
      even in most difficult times.
      All of history is a sign of the Apocalypse. However, the authentic
      and positive Apocalypse is the revelation and the discovery of God's
      infinite love towards all of us in the Person of our Lord Jesus
      Christ and in the event of His birth. May the peace of God be upon
      you, Christ is born! A blessed and happy Christmas to you and to the
      readers of Pečat!
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