Metropolitan Porfirije of Zagrеb-Ljubljana: Concerning the current attacks on the Serbian Orthodox Church

Concerning the current attacks on the Serbian Orthodox Church

Regarding the media attacks of some individuals and associations on the Serbian Orthodox Church, its clergy and the faithful in Croatia, I feel an obligation to make the following statement:

The reason, but not a motive or a cause, for brutal, unprecedented attacks and calls for lynching of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Croatia in recent years, are to be found in a recording created many years ago, during my visit to believers in Chicago, where, as a guest, I was not able to affect all the circumstances. Because of all those who have been in any way affected or felt offended, especially after the abuse and manipulation of the content of the recording by some media, I express my sincere and deep human regret.

The feeling of deep sorrow and regret has been caused also by those who consciously or unconsciously these days contribute to the effusion of intolerance towards the Serbian people, as well as to the deepening of a gap between Croats and Serbs who are inevitably bound to one another.

To anyone that observes my activity and public actions, not only since my arrival in Croatia, but in the last three decades, it is clear that which is being attributed to me  with tendentious interpretation of the recordings does not express views and values that I advocate. Simply, in human andinter-ethnic relations I hold to the words of Christ: "Do unto others as you would have them do to you". This is the principle upon which I live and I work, and I do not have any other program and ideology except Christ and His Gospel!

I note that such attacks did not surprise me, because when I arrived in Zagreb, I said, in my first sermon, that on both sides there were those who would throw stones at those who build bridges between people and nations. The protagonists of hatred and intolerance will not discourage me, but encourage that that with even more intensity in my heart I  cherish Christ’s love towards them, because I know that God, who created all of us for eternity, expects that from me.

For such treatment I am particularly obliged by numerous individuals and associations who have shown determination that, despite concerted, verbally violent attacks, publicly and privately send expressions of solidarity, encouragement and support to the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Orthodox believers in Croatia and to me personally. They do encourage optimism in me that I, hoping in God, continue with even more power to build bridges of peace, cooperation, mutual respect and love between the Croatian and Serbian peoples as well as between the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church, because we are members of the same Christian family who believe the same Gospel of Christ. To them, who in my opinion and belief represent the majority of Croatia based on Christ's teaching and ethos, I extend my deepest gratitude.

Christ’s words: “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you”oblige us to reciprocate to hate speech with love! Consequently, I greet Orthodox believers also at this time with the words of the Holy Apostle Paul: ”It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Metropolitan Porfirije of Zagreb-Ljubljana