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Public Communique of Holy Assembly of Serbian Orthodox Church

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    2005.11.05 KiM: Public Communique from the regular session of the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church Belgrade November 5, 2005 source:
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 6, 2005
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      2005.11.05 KiM:
      Public Communique from the regular session of the Holy Assembly of Bishops
      of the Serbian Orthodox Church

      Belgrade
      November 5, 2005
      source: Official SOC Website
      ---------------
      *Subtitles are added by KIM Info editors for better orientation in the
      text. A version in MS Word format is attached.
      The regular session of the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox
      Church, chaired by His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle, took place in the
      Belgrade Patriarchate from November 2-4, 2005. All hierarchs of the Serbian
      Orthodox Church took part in the work of the Assembly, with the exception
      of Metropolitan Hristofor of Midwestern America and the head of Autonomous
      Archdiocese of Ochrid, Archbishop Jovan who, although innocent, is
      imprisoned in the prison in Skoplje.
      (On Kosovo and Metohija)
      The central issue dealt with by the Assembly at this session, the second
      this year, was the issue of the present situation and future of the Serbian
      Orthodox Church and the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija, taking into
      account the forthcoming beginning of talks on the further status of the
      Province. The Assembly expressed its views and expectations with regard to
      this issue in a separate message to the domestic and international public,
      and in a separate address to the faithful of the Serbian Orthodox Church
      and the Serbian people. The essence of the Assembly message is a request
      that our suffering Church and endangered people in Kosovo and Metohija
      finally be ensured elementary freedom and protection, and that the debate
      on status be conducted on the basis of justice, morality and equal
      treatment of all ethnic communities and their legitimate interests, in
      accordance with the norms of international law.
      Upon the invitation of His Holiness the Patriarch, the Prime Minister of
      the Government of Serbia, Dr. Vojislav Kostunica, accompanied by the
      president of the Coordinating Center of the Government of Serbia for Kosovo
      and Metohija, Mrs. Sanda Raskovic-Ivic, met with the members of the
      Assembly and on this occasion informed them of the position of the
      Government of Serbia on the future status of Kosovo and Metohija, and with
      the steps the Government is undertaking to preserve the territorial
      integrity of Serbia, with Kosovo and Metohija as its integral part.
      (Appointment of Bishop Teodosije)
      The Assembly appointed His Grace Vicar Bishop Teodosije of Lipljan as the
      vice-chair of the Council for Kosovo and Metohija of the Holy Assembly of
      Bishops, and representative of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the
      Commission for the Reconstruction of Orthodox Churches in Kosovo and
      Metohija, to maintain contacts with relevant representatives of the
      international community in the Province during the upcoming period of talks
      on Kosovo and Metohija, and inform them of the official position of the
      Holy Synod of Bishops. The Assembly also tasked Bishop Teodosije with
      regularly informing His Grace Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren, as
      official diocesan bishop, as well as the Holy Synod of Bishops and the
      Council for Kosovo and Metohija of the Holy Assembly of Bishops regarding
      all developments and current problems in Kosovo and Metohija. The Assembly
      emphasizes that the only official position of the Serbian Orthodox Church
      regarding the situation in Kosovo and Metohija is that which is approved by
      the Holy Synod of Bishops, the Council for Kosovo and Metohija of the Holy
      Assembly of Bishops, as competent bodies of the Assembly.
      (Solidarity with imprisoned Archbishop Jovan of Ochrid)
      It is with deep regret and bitterness that the Assembly heard the reports
      of the hierarchs of the Archdiocese of Ochrid regarding the difficult
      position of its head in the Idrizovo prison in Skoplje where he was
      imprisoned after senseless accusations and a farcical trial for his
      uncompromising battle for the unity and canonical order of the Orthodox
      Church. As it has done so many times in the past, the Assembly once again
      called on the perpetrators of the schism within the Church in the (Former
      Yugoslav) Republic of Macedonia, the inspirers of the prosecution targeting
      the Archdiocese of Ochrid and its Archbishop, to repentance and unity with
      all local sister Churches in its blessed and pan-Orthodox fullness. At the
      same time, the Assembly once again issues an appeal to all relevant
      institutions and officials of the democratic world, as well as
      organizations furthering the protection of human rights and freedoms, for
      decisive action to secure the release of Archbishop Jovan and the end of
      state police terror against the recognized and legitimate Orthodox Church
      in Macedonia. After all, since the destruction of Communism, this is the
      only example of systematic persecution of the Orthodox Church in modern
      Europe and, indeed, the world, and an enormous challenge for democracy and
      the basic values of the civilized world.
      (Concerns over events in Croatia and BH)
      It is also with concern that the Assembly is following the appearance of
      harassment of Orthodox faithful, and serial attacks and destruction of
      property of the Serbian Orthodox Church in some parts of Croatia and
      Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Assembly determined that the return of expelled
      persons and refugees to their centuries-old homes in these countries is
      still very limited, and accompanied by many obstructions and uncertainty.
      Moreover, the building of the Orthodox Seminary in Sarajevo still has not
      been returned, although real property belonging to other churches and
      religious communities has been restituted.
      (Solidarity with Patriarchate of Constantinople)
      The Assembly is also disturbed by frequent libelous assaults against
      certain institutions of the Serbian Orthodox Church, which are groundlessly
      and irresponsibly accused of hiding persons indicted for war crimes. The
      members of the Assembly reacted similarly to the slander and attacks by
      extremist groups in Turkey against the Patriarchate of Constantinople and
      His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. The Assembly firmly
      hopes that the state institutions of the Republic of Turkey, clearly
      oriented toward a European future, will offer adequate protection and legal
      security to the Orthodox Church, other Christian churches, and all minority
      communities on its territory.
      (Reorganization of Church Councils)
      The Assembly has also reorganized its Councils: the Council for Kosovo and
      Metohija, the Council for Gathering Information on the Jasenovac Death
      Camp, and the Council for Enhancement of Church Education and School
      Program. In is precisely to facilitate this enhancement that the Assembly
      has decided that, beginning with the next school year, the school program
      in seminaries of the Serbian Orthodox Church will once again be five years
      in length instead of the present four.
      (Agreement with Italian Government)
      Finally, the Assembly approved in principle the text of the Agreement with
      the Government of the Republic of Italy, which is expected to regulate the
      status of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Italy.
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