Communique of the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church
Under the presidency of His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irinej the regular meeting of the Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church began this year on May 14 at Monastery Studenica where in the Church of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos the Divine Liturgy was served on the occasion of the 900th anniversary of the birth of St. Simeon the Myrrh-flowing (Stefan Nemanja), and it continued in Ras (Novi Pazar) where, in the Sts. Peter and Paul Church, the Invocation of the Holy Spirit was served on the same day in order for the sessions of the Sabor to proceed at the Patriarchate in Belgrade.Participating in the Sabor were the majority of the diocesan bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Absent were only His Beatitude Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid and Metropolitan of Skoplje and His Eminence Metropolitan Nikolaj of Dabro Bosna. Also, Bishop Milutin of Valjevo and Bishop Chrysostom of Zvornik-Tuzla and other bishops were temporarily absent as they visited those areas most threatened by the floods.
Before the Sabor began prayers were offered for the newly reposed Metropolitan Jovan of Zagreb and Ljubljana of blessed repose. That same afternoon a Moleban was offered, served at times of heavy rainfall and the dangers which result from them.
At the beginning of the first day Serbian Patriarch Irinej, in his introductory remarks, pointed out to the gathered hierarchs the responsibility the Church has in witnessing the Gospel and love of God today.
At the very beginning it was decided by the Assembly that, as aid to the victims of the catastrophic flood, a sum of ten million dinars be allocated and that a fund with a special account number be established for assistance. The Assembly also directed an appeal to the clergy and laity of our Church, as well as heads of local Churches worldwide, that they help the victims of the flood. The Assembly offered its warm gratitude to all those who participated in saving people and properties from the flood, those from our country as well as rescuers from our brotherly Russia and those from neighboring countries and the world who offered their help to the victims. The Assembly brotherhood invoked God's blessing on all of them.
Once again this year the Assembly dedicated due attention to crucial issues of the Church – participation of our Church in the preparation of the Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox Church; the difficult state of the Serbian population in Kosovo and Metohija; the advancement of religious education; relations between the Church and state bodies in Serbia, Republic of Srpska and the region; the actions of Orthodox clergy in the Serbian Army and Armed Forces of Bosnia and Hercegovina; relations between the autocephalous Orthodox Churches and between the heterodox Christian churches and confessions and other world religions; the threats facing marriages and families due to the white plague, and more so due to the aggressive propaganda of immorality, abortions, the unnatural fornication and the hedonistic-consumer spirit in general; the threats facing the Cyrillic alphabet in Serbia and the Republic of Srpska due to our unforgivable negligence and irresponsibility, and in Croatia and Montenegro as a result of the brutal persecution of the Serbian alphabet; work on the St. Sava Church on Vracar; work of the humanitarian organization “Covekoljublje”, as well as the central church cultural and educational institutions, first of all the Library, Museum and Archives and so forth.
The Assembly addressed the media with a special communique regarding the difficult state of our Church in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia where the government, based on a judicial farce, continues to keep Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid imprisoned under inhumane conditions, at the same time they pressure the other bishops, priests, monastics and faithful of the autonomous Archbishopric of Ohrid, threatening them with the same judicial treatment. The Assembly once again appeals to all those responsible that they do everything in their power to free Archbishop Jovan, modern Europe's political prisoner number one, and the termination of the last religious persecution in Europe, the persecution of the Archbishopric of Ohrid. The Assembly is grateful to the sister Orthodox Churches, the World Council of Churches, the Conference of European Churches, the organizations for the protection of human rights and many other distinguished individuals for their taking on of this painful issue.
The Assembly approved the reports of the celebration of the 1700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan held in October of last year in Belgrade, Nis and Podgorica, the report of the Holy Synod of their work during the course of last year and reports from each diocesan bishop.
The Assembly accepted the penance of Zivorad Pavlovic, the former priest who had joined the sect of Miras Dedeic which calls itself the “Montenegrin Church”, and received him back into the church community as a layperson.
The Assembly filled the vacant dioceses of the Serbian Orthodox Church electing the current vicar Bishop Jovan of Lipljan as Bishop of Slavonia; the current vicar Bishop Andrej of Remezijan as Bishop of Austria-Switzerland; Archimandrite Sergije (Karanovic) of Monastery Rmanj as Bishop of Central Europe; the current Bishop of Timok as bishop of Zicha; Archimandrite Hilarion (Golubovic) of Monastery Bukova as Bishop of Timok; Archimandrite Arsenije (Glavcic) of Monastery Studenica as Bishop of Toplica, vicar Bishop to the Serbian Patriarch and Archimandrite Jeronim (Mocevic) of Monastery Kovilj as Bishop of Jegar, vicar Bishop to the Bishop of Backa.
Members of the Holy Synod in its new composition are: Metropolitan Amphilohije of Montenegro and the Coastlands and Bishops Lavrentije of Sabac, Chrysostom of Zvornik-Tuzla and Teodosije of Ras-Prizren.
Bishop of Backa IRINEJ
Spokesman of the Holy Assembly of the Serbian Orthodox Church
Source: The Path of Orthodoxy