the Serbian Orthodox Church
COMMUNIQUE ON COMMEMORATIONS DEDICATED
TO VICTIMS OF WAR CLASHES IN SREBRENICA REGION, 1992-1995
On the occasion of the marking of the tragedy in Srebrenica,
His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle on behalf of the Serbian
Orthodox Church wishes to express his prayerful condolences to
the families of all who perished, praying to God the Almighty
that the evils of wartime suffering are never repeated in this
The Church firmly condemns all crimes and reminds that no crime
can be justified by the misfortunes others inflict upon us. The
crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, like in other regions
of the former Yugoslavia, are the acts of irresponsible people,
who senselessly took into their own hands the right to pass judgment
on others. These are not acts behind which entire peoples and
faiths stand. Hence it is the responsibility of the people in
whose name crimes were committed to clearly and unambiguously
distance themselves from criminals and to show human solidarity
with the victims of war, regardless of their ethnic or religious
His Holiness takes this opportunity to call on the faithful
of our Church to spend the day of the commemoration in Potocari
today and tomorrow’s commemoration in Bratunac in peace and dignity,
in remembrance of all victims who perished in the senselessness
of war and in prayer to God that He may offer solace to all who
lost their loved ones in tragic wartime clashes.
LORD HAVE MERCY!
When our Lord, Jesus Christ, died, crucified, on the Cross,
and was then resurrected, He showed once and for all time that
death can be conquered by the strength of our faith, the sincerity
of our hope and the truth of our love.
The unique victory of the God-Man over death is an eternal victory
and a life-giving message addressed to all of humanity that no
one’s suffering and not one death can be meaningless. We have
been given the opportunity to understand that human death and
perishing are not the final end of our existence. To understand
that everyday logic is not the only law of our everyday life.
Inspired by this faith, by established faith in salvation and
love toward our neighbor, we wish – in the name of our Holy Church
– to express our most sincere condolences for the horrible suffering
of the people of the Srebrenica region. Today and tomorrow are
public commemorations of this great tragedy of the people, in
two locations, in Potocari and in Bratunac. Both these memorials,
both commemorations (one to Bosniaks who perished, the other
to Serbs who perished) have one and the same character and a
unique function – to be, at the same time, a memorial and a warning.
A MEMORIAL to all who were killed in the horrible tempest of
war from 1992 to 1995.
A WARNING that war conflicts, hatred and revenge have brought
everyone nothing but enormous, immeasurable suffering, which
remain like a difficult and unforgettable legacy to our tragedy-stricken
Because some of our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, children
and grandchildren, neighbors and friends are no longer among
Because some of their days, plans, hopes and dreams have been
cut short in the most horrible way.
Some people’s faces will never again be seen.
Some people’s voices, well-known, will never again be heard.
The participants of this endless death procession will never
again participate in moments of joy and sorrow of their loved
All of us must feel, at least for a fleeting second, all the
pain of this parting, all the indescribable sorrow, all that
stands behind the cries of a family, behind the tears of a child,
behind wailing and behind dumb silence. All of us must by our
own will in the name of humanity and humaneness feel the sorrow,
the pain, the regret, the condolence and the empathy.
But most of all and above all, an appeal addressed to the people
and a prayer addressed to the Savior that never again and for
no reason may this happen again! The appeal and the prayer that
these two national tragedies in the future may never be separated
– not in two different days or in two different sides. A prayer
and an appeal that, at least for a fleeting second, as a result
of this suffering dangerous political walls calling for further
conflicts and revenge are not built. That the death and suffering
of “one” and the “other” side are not separated with such passion.
That commemorative gatherings are never again events representing
“a high security risk” for anyone.
We pray, before God and the people, that the bloody chain of
new suffering may finally be broken. We pray, with the voice
of empathy and repentance, in the name of all victims, that such
suffering may never again be repeated. We pray for all those
who perished in Srebrenica, in Bratunac and in all other scenes
of tragedy during the most recent war. We pray for all those
who are no longer among us and for all those whose deaths remain
as a tragic memorial and warning.
LORD HAVE MERCY!
COMMUNIQUE ON MEDIA ATTACK AGAINST BISHOP VASILIJE
Following the announcement that His Grace Bishop Vasilije of
Zvornik and Tuzla, a member of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the
Serbian Orthodox Church, will be serving a short memorial service
on the feast of St. Peter, July 12, 2005 in Bratunac, Republika
Srpska, for the Serbs of the Podrinje region who perished during
the tragic conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992-1995,
certain Sarajevo media followed by some others published repulsive
and inappropriate defamatory attacks against him.
Bishop Vasilije has no intention of defending himself from such
acts because on St. Peter’s Day this year, as always in the past,
he will be doing only that which is his holy duty as an Orthodox
archpriest: he will pray to God for the souls of the innocent
Orthodox Serbs who perished, the faithful in this Diocese, people
whose given and family names are not unknown even here on Earth
and are written in indelible letters in the incorruptible Book
of life in heaven inaccessible to mortals.
The fact that Bishop Vasilije – like any other bishop or priest
of the Serbian Orthodox Church – will serve a memorial service
for innocent Serbs who perished certainly does not mean that
he, like all Orthodox faithful, does not regret other innocent
victims in Bosnia and Herzegovina, concretely, Muslims (but also
Croatians!), and that he does not empathize with the pain of
the members of their faith and their compatriots, and especially
with the pain of their loved ones. On the contrary!
War is a tragedy for all. In essence, it has no victor and it
is the innocent who always suffer the most. That is why all cemeteries
and places where tragedies occurred, marked and unmarked, necessitate
that we prayerfully remember all the victims – for they are all
“ours” and among them there are none that are “theirs” and “ours”
for they are all God’s and belong to everyone – and that we pray
to God that future generations grown and live in peace.
SERBIAN PATRIARCH RECEIVES UN
SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE KAI EIDE
His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle received the United Nations
Secretary-General’s special representative for the assessment
of standards in Kosovo and Metohija, Mr. Kai Eide, on Monday,
July 11, 2005 in the Belgrade Patriarchate.
reception was also attended by His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije
and His Grace Bishop Teodosije of Lipljan. During
the course of the conversation, they discussed current issues
relating to the position of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the
Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija.
GOMIRJE MONASTERY CELEBRATES ITS PATRONAL FEAST
On the feast of St. John the Fore-runner and Baptist, Gomirje
Monastery celebrated its patronal feast. His Grace Bishop Vasilije
of Srem served Holy Hierarchal Liturgy with the concelebration
of His Grace Bishop Gerasim of Gornji Karlovac.
In his sermon Bishop Gerasim called on all the faithful, first
and foremost, to repent sincerely in order to renew the human
nature given us by Our Lord Christ, following the example of
St. John the Baptist.
Bishop Vasilije thanked Bishop Gerasim for his invitation and
hospitality and then addressed the faithful, emphasizing the
importance of Gomirje Monastery as a spiritual center. Bishop
Vasilije recalled the day he began his life as a novice and monk
44 years ago in this monastery together with Father Miron of
After Holy Liturgy a memorial service for the deceased monks
and nuns was served at the monastery cemetery and a monument
to Father Miron of blessed repose was consecrated.
PATRONAL FEAST CELEBRATED BY CHURCH IN BENKOVAC
On the feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, His Grace
Bishop Fotije of Dalmatia served Holy Hierarchal Liturgy in Benkovac
and cut the slava cake.
his sermon Bishop Fotije said that our people will survive
in this region by preserving their Orthodox faith and their
shrines, and that the Church prays continuously for the return
of the Orthodox Serbs to the region of the Diocese of Dalmatia,
including Ravne Kotare, which is currently most underpopulated.
BANJA LUKA RESIDENTS TO ASSIST HOLY THREE HIERARCHS SEMINARY
IN KRKA MONASTERY
A Dalmatian Evening was recently held in Banja Luka under the
auspices of mayor Dragoljub Davidovic and with the blessing of
Bishop Jefrem of Banja Luka where participants agreed to materially
assist the life and work of the Holy Three Hierarchs Seminary
at Krka Monastery.
Mr. Dusan Torbica, the director of ELNOS of Banja Luka and a
native of Kistanje, agreed to organize these philanthropic activities.
The administration of the Holy Three Hierarchs Seminary hopes
that with the help of the Banja Luka donors they will be able
to prepare for the forthcoming school year and succeed in providing
education for over fifty students at the Seminary in Krka Monastery.
“THREE-HANDED THEOTOKOS” INTERNATIONAL LITERARY AWARD RECEIVED
BY METROPOLITAN AMFILOHIJE AND ANDREI VOZNENSKY
The Ivanka Milosevic Foundation in Chicago has awarded its “Three-Handed
Theotokos” international literary award to two Orthodox literary
creators, a Russian, Andrei Voznesensky for the year 2004, and
a Serb, His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and
the Littoral for the year 2005. Since the award is presented
for the entire opus of the writer, the Executive Board of the
Foundation has decided to present awards for both 2004 and 2005
this year so that in the future the award can be presented to
the recipients the same year it is awarded.
The award is presented in honor of the Most Holy Three-Handed
Theotokos for the well-being of the Orthodox peoples and Orthodox
poetry in memory of Ivanka Milosevic, a student of the fifth
grade of the Latin School in Chicago, who was killed at the age
of nine by agents of the Yugoslav Communist Secret Police on
June 19, 1977 in Chicago.
“The ‘Three-Handed Theotokos’ literary award for 2004 was awarded
to Andrei Voznesensky (born 1933), the greatest Russian poet
of the second half of the twentieth century, whose work has contributed
to the preservation of the lyricism of Russian poetry from the
senselessness of socialist realism. Voznesensky is the best example
to the Russian people of how true faith conquers all trials,
no matter how great they may be, such as the Communist system
that kept Eastern Europe and practically all Orthodoxy in complete
hopelessness for three-quarters of a century.
“The recipient of the ‘Three-Handed Theotokos’ award for 2005
is Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral (born
1938). Metropolitan Amfilohije, who was raised on the threshold
of Orthodoxy, has grown into a spiritual and literary giant of
the Serbian Orthodox Church as well as one of the greatest thinkers
of the entire Orthodox Church and Christianity in general, and
one of their most fiery protectors in these godless times,” said
Dragica Milosevic, the president of the Foundation.
Recipients of the award are announced on St. Vitus Day in Chicago,
the location of the Ivanka Milosevic Foundation.
Previous laureates of the award include poets Matija Beckovic
(2001), Stevan Raickovic (2002) and His Grace Bishop Atanasije
(Jevtic) of Zahumlje and Herzegovina (retired) (2003).
The awards will be presented to Andrei Voznesensky and Metropolitan
Amfilohije this fall at a formal Academy in Belgrade.
Source: Ivanka Milosevic Foundation, Chicago
COMMUNIQUE REGARDING ARCHBISHOP JOVAN OF OCHRID AND METROPOLITAN
Because of the precarious position at present of Archbishop
Jovan of Ochrid and Metropolitan of Skopje, the Holy Synod of
Bishops of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Ochrid met on July 10,
2005 at 6:00 p.m. in the monastery of St. John Chrysostom in
the village of Nizepolje and from that extraordinary meeting
it hereby issues the following communique:
We most strongly protest against the re-establishment of a totalitarian
regime in the Republic of Macedonia (sic). After the inhuman
persecution of the Church during the time of communism, persecution
of the Church in the twenty-first century represents a new attempt
to subjugate it to the regime, to take away its voice, to minimize
and, if possible, to destroy it.
We call on the entire democratic world to introduce harsh measures
against the intolerance of the Government of the Republic of
Macedonia against the faith of the members of the Orthodox Archdiocese
of Ochrid. It is a faith that has survived the centuries, and
there is no reason why members of the Orthodox Church, which
exists in most countries in the world, should be forbidden to
practice their faith in the Republic of Macedonia.
By its intolerance toward the religious affiliation of its citizens,
the Republic of Macedonia has shown itself before the entire
world to be a country inhabited by uncivilized people ready to
use the financing of the International Community but not ready
to change their manner of behavior.
If someone imprisons the Head of an Orthodox Church in the twenty-first
century on charges that he is “inciting national and religious
hatred” then he is lost to the progress of civilization. The
decision of the Bitolj Appeals Court does not imprison only His
Beatitude Archbishop Jovan of Ochrid and Metropolitan of Skopje
but condemns to imprisonment all members of the Orthodox Church
everywhere in the world. The Bitolj Appeals Court, which according
to international investigation is the most corrupt institution
in the Republic of Macedonia, has also condemned Patriarch Bartholomew
of Constantinople and Patriarch Alexey of Moscow and the Heads
of all other local Orthodox Churches which have the same faith
as Archbishop Jovan. The court in Bitolj did not condemn Archbishop
Jovan as an individual, it condemned the faith of all those who
consider the so-called Macedonian Orthodox Church to be schismatic.
The Archbishop has done nothing other than what every Head of
an Orthodox Church would do toward those who are in schism with
the Orthodox Church.
The Holy Synod of Bishops demands that the Assembly, Government
and Courts in the Republic of Macedonia honor (international)
Conventions on Human Rights and Freedom of Worship of which the
Republic of Macedonia is also a signatory.
The Synod asks that the Government of the Republic of Macedonia
urgently register the Orthodox Archdiocese of Ochrid and grant
it legitimacy as a religious community. Because the Government
in the Republic of Macedonia is in violation of the State Constitution
with respect to religious freedoms of its citizens, as well as
international conventions on freedom of religion, one gets the
impression that it wishes to follow the example of totalitarian
regimes to settle the score with those who do not share the government’s
The Synod asks that the International Community exert pressure
on the Government in the Republic of Macedonia to respect international
conventions on freedom of religion, instead of just begging for
The Synod asks press and media in the Republic of Macedonia
to adhere to a minimum of professional ethics. All editors and
journalists individually need to think about the decision of
the Bitolj Appeals Court, which represents an attack on freedom
of thought. Today they have sentenced an innocent Archbishop
and tomorrow it will be much easier to condemn any journalist
or editor who does not think in the same way as the ruling regime.
We expect all local Orthodox Churches, as well as other Christian
Churches and the heterodox who in their faith emphasize freedom
of the spirit and tolerance towards others to support the Orthodox
Archdiocese of Ochrid and to send protests to the Government
of the Republic of Macedonia because of its uncivilized behavior
towards its own citizens of Orthodox Christian faith.
Deputy Chairman of the Holy Synod of Bishops
of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Ochrid
+Bishop Joakim of Polog and Kumanovo
Copyright © 1999-2004 by
The Information Service of the Serbian Orthodox Church
Kralja Petra I no.5
+381 11 3282 596