Statement by the Communication Service of the Moscow Patriarchate department for external church relations and the Information Service of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
On February 2, 2015, in compliance with the ruling of the Skopje Court, Archbishop Jovan (Vraniskovsky) of Ohrid, a hierarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, was released from the Idrizovo prison.
On the basis of a Memorandum that was signed by His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irinej and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia in Belgrade on 15 November 2014, and with the blessing of both, Russian and Serbian Patriarchs, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, paid a working visit to R. Macedonia from 19 – 20 December 2014.
His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion visited Archbishop of Ohrid and Metropolitan of Skopje Jovan, who for the sake of this meeting, was temporary transferred from the prison of Idrizovo to the Skopje hospital “Mother Theresa” on 20 December. After these talks, Archbishop Jovan was returned back to the prison.
On the same day Metropolitan Hilarion, accompanied by Mr. Oleg Scherbak, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to R. Macedonia, met with President of the R. Macedonia Mr. Djordje Ivanov. Following this meeting, chairman of the DECR talked with President of the Government of the R. Macedonia Mr. Nikola Gruevski and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Nikola Popovski. Ultimately, Metropolitan Hilarion also met with the head of the self-proclaimed, non-canonical Macedonian Orthodox Church Kyr Stephen.
While in Skopje, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion led these talks guided by the concern for unity of the Church, its salvific mission and salvation of the baptized souls in FYR Macedonia, and with respect to the perspective of regulating the canonical status of the Church in this area as well as to the unconditional final release of His Eminence Jovan, Archbishop of Ohrid and Metropolitan of Skopje, who had been sentenced to hard labor in a manipulated political process.
The Serbian Orthodox Church expresses herewith its deep gratitude to the sister Russian Orthodox Church, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, and His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk for fraternal love and cooperation, for the invested great efforts in the ministry for the canonical order and unity of the Church, as well as towards the release of His Eminence Archbishop Jovan, imprisoned without any reason, and subjected to a cruel regime in prison despite his severely impaired health.
Bishop Irinej of Bachka,
Spokesman of the Serbian Orthodox Church
Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church
Nr. 1120 - September 9, 2014, Belgrade
To His Eminence Stefan, Archbishop of Ohrid in schism
Subject: Your letter and Our reaction to it
We received Your letter SAS nr. 18 from July 25, 2014, through which You are informing us of the criminal activities – as You name them – of the Archbishop of Ohrid and Metropolitan of Skopje Dr. Jovan.
This letter was very saddening for us. We had expected that You inform us whether you had done something, and what exactly, for the release of His Beatitude, the imprisoned and suffering Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid and Metropolitan of Skopje. Instead, You are sending us “information” on some fictional criminal activities of this respectable Hierarch, and we also heard that You have sent such letters to other Prelates of the Orthodox Churches, and even personally to many Bishops around the world.
The disaster that has affected the territory of Serbia and of the countries in the region, incites us all to foster Christian compassion and brotherly, selfless aid.
We call upon all the professionals and all the people who are able and willing to help, to contact headquarters and representatives of state and local authorities in their places of residence and to make themselves available for the rescue of human lives and protection from floods.
We call upon clergy, the faithful and all the people of good will in Belgrade to begin collecting food, clothes, shoes and bedclothes in all the churches, starting from tomorrow morning. The aid will be collected as long as needed.
At the same time, We ask all the people of good will in the country and abroad to join in an organized manner and help in one’s own way in fighting against this distress that befell us unexpectedly.
Serbian Patriarch Irinej
Hierarchs gathered at the Studenica monaster. The rite of Invocation of the Holy Spirit was performed in the church of Sts. Apostles Peter and Paul in Ras near Novi Pazar
This annual gathering of the Holy Assembly of Bishops began with the Holy Hierarchal Liturgy at the Cathedral church of the Most Holy Mother of God in the monastery of Studenica on Wednesday, 14 May 2014. His Holiness Irinej, Serbian Patriarch, officiated the Divine Liturgy with the concelebration of a number of bishops.