Serbian Patriarch and Bishops in Kosovo and Metohia

His Holiness Irinej, Serbian Patriarch and members of the Holy Synod of Bishops and the Committee of the Holy Assembly of Bishops for Kosovo and Metohia visited the Southern Serbian province from 6-8 February. Along with Bishop Teodosije of Raska-Prizren and Bishop Jovan of Lipljan, Vicar to His Holiness, in Kosovo and Metohija were also Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral and Bishop Vasilije of Srem, Pahomije of Vranje, Jovan of Sumadia, Joanikije of Budimlje-Niksic, David of Krusevac and retired Bishop Atanasije of Zahumlje-Herzegovina.

On Thursday, on the feast day of Saint Gregory the Theologian, Serbian Patriarch celebrated the Divine Liturgy at Cathedral church of Saint Great Martyr George along with seven bishops. Clergy and monks of the Diocese of Raska-Prizren concelebrated, while the choir of the Sts. Cyril and Methodius Seminary sang responses.

Among the present faithful there were Serbian returnees, as well as a group of young girls from Velika Hoca.

After the Divine Liturgy, at the Diocesan court Serbian Patriarch chaired the regular session of the Holy Synod of Bishops. After the session, there was a meeting of the Committee for Kosovo and Metohia, during which they discussed the problems which the Church and the people faced, especially in the last month.

One part of the meeting of the Committee for Kosovo and Metohia was held in attendance of Mr. Dimitris Moshopoulos, the chief of the Greek office in Pristina, who is also the EU special adviser for the issues of Serbian cultural heritage . Mr. Moshopoulos and his associate Rick Sprite informed the members of the Holy Synod and the Committee about the condition of the protection of Serbian shrines and cultural heritage, and about plans of its improvement.

Today the Serbian shrines are protected by the laws of “the institutions of Kosovo”, and there is a firm determination of the international community to give international warranty to establish operational control mechanism for the respect and implementation of these requirements.

The members of the Holy Synod of Bishops and the Committee for Kosovo and Metohia should soon talks with the high representatives of Serbia in order to convey the positions of the Serbian Church regarding the issues of the status of the Church and the protection of the Serbian shrines in the context of the negotiations of Belgrade and Prishtina conducted through the intermediation of the European Union. The bishops especially emphasized that the shrines could not be museums but it should be done all to bring back the faithful people, who would keep monasteries and churches as living shrines and the places of gathering and unity of the people.

The same day, Patriarch Irinej and Bishop Teodosije, along with other bishops, visited the Prizren Seminary of Sts. Cyril and Methodius. In the late afternoon, His Holiness and the bishops visited Visoki Decani monastery, and the stauropegial Laura of the Patriarchate of Pec.

On Friday, the third day of his stay in Kosovo and Metohia, Serbian Patriarch Irinej celebrated along with six bishops the Divine Liturgy at the church of the Holy Savior at the Patriarchate of Pec, while Bishop Vasilije of Srem celebrated the Holy Liturgy in Visoki Decani. After the Divine Liturgy, the Serbian Patriarch and the members of the Holy Synod met with the representatives of the Serbs from Northern Kosovo and Metohia.