FWD: A Personal Encounter with His Grace Bishop Artemije
> Subj: Article
> Date: 12/26/2000 5:41:06 PM W. Europe Standard Time
> From: exec@...-church.net (Fr. Irinej Dobrijevic)
> To: info@...-church.net (Office of External Affairs)
> In the following, please find an excellent article on His Grace Bishop Artemije
> by Steven Cupic. This is a rare inside view of the man, the bishop, the doctor
> of the Theology and the diplomat, who bears upon his shoulders the burden of
> Kosovo and Metohija.
> Fr. Irinej Dobrijevic
> A Personal Encounter with His Grace Bishop Artemije
> WASHINGTON, DC (June 2000) - Having endured a grueling schedule of weekend
> discussions between Serbian and Albanian delegations facilitated by the United
> States Institute of Peace in Airlie, Virginia, I was privileged to host, on
> behalf of the Office of External Affairs, His Grace Bishop Artemije of the
> Raska-Prizren Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church and his spiritual son,
> Father Sava Janjic, mostly known to the world as the "Cybermonk" to a relaxed
> and informal lunch at a local fish market in Washington, DC.
> Recognizing the restaurant from a previous trip to our Nation's Capital not by
> it's surroundings, but rather the unique deep-blue tinted glass of water placed
> before him, His Grace softly commented on his observation and smiled as if to
> bestow his sign of approval. Never had the opportunity arisen before that I
> should have a private lunch with a Bishop and naturally I was a bit apprehensive
> out of fear that my mouth would inadvertently verbalize passing thoughts that my
> mind should not yield. Silence I figured was my safest alternative.
> My thoughts however were consumed with human tragedy over the past century and
> most notably over the past two years that has all but devoured the Kosovo spoken
> of in bedtime tales passed on through generations of Serbian families around the
> world. Tales we were told as children about the gilt and glamour that were once
> synonymous with the Serbian state, accounts of bold princes and warriors dying
> gloriously in battle, and their final choice of the ethereal over the ephemeral.
> Illustrious as this history is, it remains selectively alien to the outside
> world and has for the most part been dismissed as negligible and even damaging
> in any negotiations pertaining to the determination of Kosovo's ultimate status.
> A level of awareness must be increased to accommodate the Serbian and Orthodox
> Christian position for which this is not merely a page in a book or a bygone
> era, but a constant that is resolutely anchored by the Serbian Orthodox Church.
> The Raska-Prizren Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church, led by His Grace
> Bishop Artemije persistently calls for protection and an end to all terrorist
> activity, yet as these appeals continue to mount, somehow the Serbian population
> in Kosovo steadily dwindles in a firestorm of tolerated "retaliation". It's
> significance trivialized, the clergy in relation to the Church seems to be
> judged more as curators to a museum than participants of a living, breathing,
> and credible institution. In his person the Bishop demonstrated otherwise.
> Examining the items on the table, His Grace then looked up and inquired about
> me, where I was from, what had I studied and whom did I have left in Serbia, a
> subtle conversation spurned by his curiosity and continued with my careful
> responses. In his comments he was brief, using slight gestures and simple
> explanations to convey descriptive images while not eliminating a single detail
> in his response. This approachability and simplicity was truly unexpected; I was
> speaking with a highly educated and esteemed Bishop who has witnessed firsthand
> the crucifixion of his homeland and flock, faced constant scrutiny and harsh
> criticism from every angle, not to mention exhausted by a weekend of meetings,
> yet still he found it within himself to remain calm and optimistic.
> The apprehensiveness I had brought with me to the lunch quickly dissipated as I
> found myself listening intently to His Grace and Father Sava speak. Both were
> eager to answer my every question, exhibiting a profound and unbiased sense of
> concern for the whole of humanity. Father Sava, with his serious look and
> articulate style delivered through words his own descriptive observations
> blaming only a corrupted human condition for this tragedy, not succumbing to
> widely endorsed ethnic distinctions as a reason for the plight and violence.
> Bishop Artemije then interjected further supporting Father Sava's description of
> the present climate and reminding me that the monasteries as they have always
> been are not exclusive institutions, anyone seeking assistance or safety is
> welcomed unconditionally, as taught by Christ in Scripture.
> As a child, I was always mesmerized during liturgies by the presence of a
> white-bearded Bishop clad in the vestments of an emperor. Gracefully blessing
> the congregation and chanting in a quiet and thoughtful tone, he stood as a
> symbol, a shepherd of people, a defender of our rich faith and heritage, then in
> metaphor and now in reality. At the conclusion of our lunch meeting I emerged
> believing firmly in Bishop Artemije's ability as a man of God, a man of love, to
> be the embodiment of that symbol, to gather and defend his people, and to
> preserve that rich faith and living heritage we hold so closely to our hearts.
> Steven Cupic
> Administrative Assistant
> The Serbian Orthodox Church in the USA and Canada Office of External Affairs
> 2311 M Street, Suite 402
> Washington, DC 20037