Statement on KFOR’s intent to transfer protection of Serbian holy shrines and monuments to the Kosovo Police19. March 2010 - 12:21
The Diocese of Raška-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija expresses its serious concern due to KFOR's intent to transfer protection of the memorial at Gazimestan to the jurisdiction of the Kosovo Police. Earlier this month (March 2) during a meeting between Bishop Atanasije and Bishop's Deputy Teodosije with the KFOR commander, German General Bentler, in Gračanica Monastery, it was clearly said that it is unacceptable for this Diocese and the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija that holy shrines and buildings protected by KFOR be transferred to the protection of the Kosovo Police. Especially worrisome is that this intention is again coming up on the anniversary of the March Pogrom against the Serbs and the Serbian Church six years ago. We emphasize that the KPS does not inspire confidence in either the Church or the Serbian community in this southern province of Serbia. The transfer of the protection of the memorial in Gazimestan is not good because it can open the question of continued protection for other Serbian church and national Holy Shrines and Cultural Monuments.
His Grace Bishop Atanasije today (Mar 17) visited the Serb villages of Prilužje and Plemetina in Vučitrn municipality. In Prilužje the Bishop was welcomed by the Mitrovica church district administrator protopresbyter Milija Arsović with parish priest Milomir Vlašković, Mr. Zoran Rakić, the mayor of the Serb municipality of Vučitrn, and by the faithful. There were many children with their teachers and religion instructors. At the entrance to the courtyard of the newly built church of the Holy Transfiguration, four Serbian girls in folk costume welcomed Bishop Atanasije and served him with (the traditional offering of) bread and salt.
His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia served today the Holy Hierarchal Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts in the chapel of St. Simeon the Myrrh-gusher in the Serbian Patriarchate, with concelebration of Vicar Bishop Atanasije of Hvosno and the clergy of the Archbishopric of Belgrade-Karlovac. After the liturgical gathering the confession of the clergy to obedience followed in the Serbian Patriarchate and the Orthodox Theological Faculty of Belgrade University. Confessor was protopresbyter-staurophor Andrej Arsic, a priest of the Vavedenje monastery in retirement.
His Grace Bishop Atanasije today served in a crowded church of St. Nicholas in Kosovo Polje a commemoration of the victims of the March pogrom in Kosovo and Metohia. This church was torched during the March pogrom 2004 and then it was restored. Bishop Atanasije addressed the present faithfu with words of hope and encouragement.
Memory of the pogrom, which started on March 17, 2004, when Serbian enclaves were ethnically cleansed during the three-day attacks by Albanian extremists. Then thousands of Serbian families were expelled,19 people killed, 35 Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries and over 800 Serbian homes destroyed and burned , today it was prayerfully marked in all the temples of our Holy Church in the Fatherland and abroad.
The Prayerful memory of the victims began with the Holy The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, which was served in the Belgrade Cathedral by His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia, with concelebration of His Grace Vicar Bishop Atanasije of Hvosno and the priesthood of the Archbishopric of Belgrade-Karlovac.
On Tuesday, March 9, 2010, the Feast of the First and Second Findings of the Honorable Head of St. John the Baptist, His Grace Bishop Longin served the Hierarchical Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts with His Grace Peter, Bishop of Cleveland of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in their Cathedral of the Protection of the Mother of God in Des Plaines, Illinois. Fifteen priests and four deacons served with the Bishops. At the Small Entrance, Bishop Peter awarded several priests. Following Liturgy, there was a Lenten luncheon in the church hall.