SOC SOC Patriarch Pavle in Kosovo for Christmas; Interview of Bishop Amfilohije in "Vijesti"
The Information Service of
the Serbian Orthodox Church
December 31, 2003
PATRIARCH PAVLE IN KOSOVO FOR CHRISTMAS
His Holiness the Serbian Patriarch Kyr Pavle will present his Christmas message to the Serbian Orthodox people on Monday, January 5, 2004 at 9,00 o'clock in the Belgrade Patriarchate.
Immediately after delivering the Christmas message, His Holiness will depart for Kosovo and Metohija, where he will serve the Holy Liturgy on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the holy Serbian Pec Patriarchate.
INTERVIEW OF HIS EMINENCE THE METROPOLITAN OF MONTENEGRO AND THE LITTORAL KYR AMFILOHIJE IN THE PODGORICA DAILY "VIJESTI"
In an interview for the Podgorica daily "Vijesti", His Eminence the Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral Kyr Amfilohije answered the questions of "Vijesti's" reporter concerning the results of the census, relations with Montenegrin prime minister Milo Djukanovic, the so-called Montenegrin Orthodox Church and its self-proclaimed Episcope Mihailo, the Montenegrin nation, his understanding of conciliarity...
On the eve of the census you organized a conference at Podmaine Monastery which issued a statement calling on the population to declare themselves as Serbs. Publicly you are being accused of propaganda by your priests on the eve and during the census. What do you say to these accusations? How do you interpret the results of the census and are you satisfied with them?
Podmaine Monastery was only the host to a group of intellectuals and historians concerned about true respect for human rights and for the freedom of expression of national and other sentiments on the eve of the scheduled census in Montenegro. Concerned especially for those in Montenegro who feel they are Serbs. The aggression that has been carried out since 1945 in all domains of human life, including the declaration of nationality, has borne in Montenegro an unprecedented phenomenon on the European continent: the almost complete extermination of an entire nation which has been more present for centuries in Montenegro than any other. That something abnormal and unhealthy has been occurring here is shown by the census results of the last sixty years, starting with those immediately after the Second World War to these in 2003. The results of the most recent census only show that it was freer than any of its predecessors. Accusations against the clergy of the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral for propaganda are doubly untrue: first, the clergy has always been and remains concerned with its evangelical mission; second, even if it wanted to spread propaganda, in fact, it has the least possible access to the overwhelming majority of public media; and what is more, these media are most frequently in the hands of those who think they are performing a service to their own god if they spread propaganda against everything that the clergy and the Church are doing.
Do you now recognize the Montenegrin nation, considering that in the census more than 40 percent of Montenegrin citizens declared themselves as such?
The results of the most recent census only confirm that Montenegrins are one and the same people. Everyone who divides them brings in a bloody knife among brothers, frequently born to the same mother. How else to explain the fact that those who until recently declared themselves as Montenegrins are now declaring themselves as Serbs, and vice-versa? As far as the Church is concerned, in the words of Paul, the Apostle of the people, "there is no Greek or Jew, no slave or freeman, there is only Christ in all". Everyone who identifies the Church with any one nation is returning to the age of idolatry, to what the Church is called upon to free individuals and peoples from, making them into one Being and one people - of God.
In the past you accompanied current premier Milo Djukanovic to see the Patriarch, and whistled with the students against Milosevic. Today you are exchanging heavy words with Djukanovic and visiting Milosevic in The Hague. How do you explain this change? Has Djukanovic failed to live up to your expectations?
Mr. Djukanovic visited the Patriarch on his own and received him with honor. My visit to Milosevic in The Hague does not mean acceptance of anything he did against which I whistled with the students: I was only carrying out my evangelical duty, according to which "I was in a dungeon and they visited me." Recently I also visited the prisoners in Spuz, as I visit them every year for the holidays. As far as relations with Djukanovic are concerned: The Patriarch and the Metropolitan have remained in the same position where they were. It is Mr. Djukanovic whom you should ask whether his position toward the Church depends on immediate party and political interests, and whether he respects the it only to the extent that he believes it can be subordinated to those interests!
You are frequently accused of direct meddling in daily politics and open support of one side. Do you consider such engagement on your part to be counterproductive and does it avert people from the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral?
Everyone who objectively and accurately follows my work over the last 13 years since I have been the Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral, without delving further into the past, knows and understands on which side I am: The one who lays down his head once and for all for the faith of Christ is neither on the side of the independent or the unilaterally dependent. All those who slander and despise me and portray me as some kind of monster and "occupier" from Moraca of the throne of St. Peter should know that in my heart toward them I feel only sorrow - and love.
Would you accept, and under what conditions, an independent Montenegro and within it a Montenegrin Orthodox Church?
The question of the independence of Montenegro is a question for its citizens and their decision, which everyone is bound to respect, but only if it is freely made and not manipulated by anyone. As far as the Church is concerned, Montenegro has its church, the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral, which has existed without interruption for the past eight hundred years, as well as other Orthodox episcopates on the territory of Montenegro, regardless of the political and other conditions under which the state of Zeta, that is, Montenegro at that time, was living. One thing should be clear once and for all: its status and organization has never depended on the street or political parties or ruling ideologies, even state ones. The organization of the Church depends on the two thousand year-old Church itself and it is regulated essentially and ultimately from within, not from without. It is to be hoped that this will finally also be understood by those who until recently prosecuted the Church and condemned it to death and who today are attempting to manipulate it and create it in own their ideological image.
Can you, in keeping with the principle of conciliarity, imagine yourself at the same table with the head of the so-called Montenegrin Orthodox Church, Mihailo? What would need to occur beforehand?
I even have a photograph with Mr. Miras Dedeic, taken somewhere on Mt. Durmitor, from a time when he was still in his right mind and before he went mad, which is what happened to him in the last five-six years. I can sit with Miras Dedeic like with any other person but I cannot sit with him as an ordained member of the clergy or a metropolitan because even he himself knows that he is neither, at least, not in the eyes of God and the Orthodox Church. The principle of conciliarity applies to those who belong to the same Church; he has been, as he himself is aware, expelled from the church and placed under anathema by the Ecumenical Patriarchate [of Constantinople] itself.
How do you see the resolution of property ownership issues confronting the Serbian Orthodox Church, since the so-called Montenegrin Orthodox Church is also laying claim to the Orthodox churches in Montenegro and since it has already taken over some of them?
During the police registration of the ethnophiletistic party-religious community represented by Mr. Dedeic, on January 17, 2000, what is literally recorded is that "the religious community of the Montenegrin Orthodox Church is founded". Everyone has a right to found a political party or a religious community. However, that a religious community founded three years ago can have pretensions to the property, churches and rights of a Church that has existed without interruption for eight hundred years can only occur in a lawless state where "the law lies in the mace". We still live in the faith and hope that Montenegro does not fall among such states.
Is the Montenegrin Government still providing assistance for the construction of the Orthodox Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Podgorica? When do you expect work to be completed?
The Montenegrin Government has provided assistance in the past for the construction of the Orthodox Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Podgorica and we are extremely grateful to it for having done so. Presently it is no longer providing assistance. The church has been and continues to be built from donations. When will it be finished? That depends on the Christ-God and the enthusiasm of our donors and benefactors. We cherish the hope in our heart that by the feast day of the Resurrection of Christ in the year 2007, and to the pride and glory of Montenegro, it will be consecrated by the Ecumenical, Moscow, Serbian and other Orthodox patriarchs who laid its foundations and honored it by their visits.
You have said that it has taken you a long time to comprehend that Draza Mihailovic was also one of the pillars of Serbdom. What were the realizations that led you to this conclusion?
When did I understand the extent of the sacrifice of Draza Mihailovic? When those who condemned and killed him, thereby defeating him, were themselves defeated, by the collapse of revolution and Communism, and when they adopted the same ideals of pluralistic society and Western democracy because of which they killed not only him but hundreds of thousands like him (with respect to the Soviet Union, the cradle of Bolshevism and Titoism, the victims of the crime in the name of the "classless society" and the proletariat climb into the millions)!
Why are you preparing the celebration of the 200 year anniversary of the First Serbian Uprising in Montenegro, too, when even in Serbia, where they are directly affected by it, the anniversary has not gotten much publicity?
Why the celebration of the 200 year anniversary of the First Serbian Uprising? By celebrating it, we wish to perpetuate the "Dedication to the Ashes of the Father of Serbia" of Njegos to the Serbian leader Karadjorde: "I will be the tyrant who raises the people, christens the land and barbarian chains destroys..."
Is it true that you are hiding Radovan Karadzic in the monasteries of Montenegro, as Carla del Ponte claims?
I sent an invitation to Carla del Ponte to come to Montenegro so we can visit all the monasteries and all the monastic cells together, so she can see for herself where we are hiding Radovan Karadzic. It would not hurt her to approach the sarcophagus of St. Basil barefoot so the Holy Father can illuminate her mind with a little more divine and human justice...
Do you personally know where Karadzic is?
Karadzic is hiding in my prayers, just like any other human creature for whom I wish redemption and eternal salvation. That much I know about him.