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FWD: A Personal Encounter with His Grace Bishop Artemije

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  • Antonis Papadopoulos
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 1, 2001
      > 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
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