Information Service of
the Serbian Orthodox Church

July 11, 2005


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 long-suffering region.

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 affiliation.

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.


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 descendants.

Because some of our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, children and grandchildren, neighbors and friends are no longer among us.

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 ones.

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.



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.


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.

The 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.


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 blessed repose.

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.


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.

In his sermon Bishop Fotije said that our people will survive in this region by preserving their Orthodox faith and their holy 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.


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.


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


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 opinions.

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 money.

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

[Serbian Translation Services]

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