Communique of the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church

Published On: 14/05/2024

Facing the complete lawlessness that the current authorities in Priština are bringing to bear on the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian Orthodox People, this time restricting the freedom of movement of the very Head of the Serbian Orthodox Church – His Holiness Archbishop of Peć, Metropolitan of Belgrade–Karlovci and Serbian Patriarch kyr Porfirije, as well as other Serbian Hierarchs, preventing them, in a completely unlawful manner, in fact by force, from serving the Divine Service in commencement to the regular annual meeting of the Holy Assembly of Bishops at the Patriarchate of Peć Monastery, in which it has been similarly held since the first half of the 14th century and the time of Saint Patriarch Joanikije II, the Holy Assembly of Bishops gives witness before the entire civilized world, and especially before Christians, that the Serbian People and their Serbian Orthodox Church on Kosovo and Metohija are living in total legal, which means existential, uncertainty.

Preventing the Head of the Serbian Orthodox Church from going to the Patriarchate of Peć is like forbidding the Pope to go to the Vatican or the Head of the Church of England to go to Canterbury Cathedral. We Hierarchs gather once a year from all over the world, from all continents, we cross many borders without problem, except when we need to come to Kosovo and Metohija, our spiritual hearth.

This lawlessness, committed before the face of the world, at a time when the authorities in Priština hope for admission to the Council of Europe, is a pale reflection of what the local authorities there do on a daily basis to the Serbian People who have been living in their centuries-old homeland, on Kosovo and Metohija, for at least a millennium and a half, to which ancient monasteries and churches, graves, frescoes, and priceless icons bear living witness. Therefore, the Holy Assembly of Bishops draws the attention of all responsible international factors who have the ability to influence the authorities in Priština to this, that by this act they have grossly shown that the internationally recognized and binding provisions of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and other conventions that directly guarantee the right of every man – be it the Serbian Patriarch, Hierarchs, clerics or faithful of the Serbian Orthodox Church – to freedom of movement, freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, the right to peaceful assembly, and other guaranteed human rights and freedoms do not apply to the Serbian Patriarch, Bishops, clergy, and faithful people of the Serbian Orthodox Church on the region of Kosovo and Metohija. We also call upon the Orthodox and the entire Christian world and its spiritual leaders to, through prayer or by other means, advocate for the respect of our religious rights.

The Serbian Orthodox Church has never been, nor is she now, and certainly will not be in the future a political institution, but rather she is and remains the spiritual Mother of Orthodox Serbians, carrying out her spiritual mission without impediment in countries throughout the world. Neither in the Republic of Serbia nor in other countries does the Serbian Orthodox Church have the status of a state Church or political organization, and, therefore, political measures cannot be applied to her.

In these days when Orthodox Christians celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, the current authorities in Priština have attempted, through the classical abuse of rights and the undermining of the foundations of the rule of law, to humiliate the Serbian Orthodox Church, and give rise to new fears and anxieties among the Kosovo–Metohian Serbians, in order that they might force them to abandon their holy places and homes.

The Serbian Orthodox Church has everywhere, and especially on Kosovo and Metohija, borne witness, and today bears witness as well that she remains with her people without regard for the violence that has been systematically and without anyone being held accountable being carried out for decades, and especially since 1999 through today over Orthodox Serbians.

The Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, with His Holiness Serbian Patriarch kyr Porfirije at its head, appeals to the international factors on Kosovo and Metohija to do whatever they can to end the flagrant violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the Serbian People. The Serbian Patriarch and Hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church remain with their people on Kosovo and Metohija.