Moscow, April 15, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church has issued a document officially condemning Kosovo's unilaterally declared independence.
Minutes of a meeting of the Holy Synod in Moscow on Tuesday, quoted the Church's governing body as expressing "solidarity with Serbia, a country that shares our faith, due to the separation from it of one of its historic parts, a part that has played a role in the history of the spiritual, cultural and ethnic life of the Serb people."
The Synod backed the position of "the Serbian Orthodox Church in the issue of separation of Kosovo and Metohia from Serbia."
It also advocated "all forms of support for the will of the brotherly Serbian people, who want the territorial integrity of their state to be preserved."
In February 2008, the head of the Russian Church, Patriarch Alexy II, expressed fear that Kosovo's unilaterally proclaimed independence would fuel separatist movements in other parts of the world and set off "very tragic events."
Kosovo's declaration of independence "is an anti-historical event, which upsets the world balance, something that may lead to very tragic events in a whole number of spots on the globe where separatist sentiments are being stoked," Alexy said.
A 9th century Serb Orthodox Church in Novi Pazar was last night sprayed with offensive graffiti in 6th April 2008. The priests at the St. Peter church reported this to the police and then informed the media.
Meantime the Riaset, the seat of the Islamic Community of Serbia, led by Adem Zilkić, condemned this incident in the strongest terms, it was reported. The Riaset added that a desecration of any religious structure "sows the seeds of unrest", and that, "according to the Koran", it is "worse sin than murder".
The Riaset also stressed it has good relations with the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC), and condemned the incident that took place in the multi-ethnic Sandžak, saying that "those who did it do not mean well to their people"."Bosniaks and Serbs have for years shared this common space by living in peace and tolerance, successfully resisting all temptations so far," the Islamic organization said.
The St. Peter church in Novi Pazar (Serbia) was built in the 9th century, and is the oldest Orthodox church in the Balkans. At that place Stefan Nemanja, the biggest Serbian emperor, was resigned from the throne and went away in Mount Athos. His son St. Sava Serbian, as the youngest child, and him were founders of the Serbian monastery Chilandar (Mount Athos). His successors , in the Medeival era, were founders of many monasteries and churches in Kosovo and Metochia, BYRMacedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Hercegovina and Bulgaria.
International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) will provide aid to victims of the Albania munitions explosions that occurred on March 15 in the town of Gerdec near the capital city of Tirana. The explosions killed 17 people and wounded 300 others. More than 3,500 people were forced to evacuate their homes as the massive explosions continued into the next day.
"Displaced villagers will not be able to return to their homes for at least six months and will need long term support," said IOCC Regional Director Mark Ohanian who is coordinating the response in Albania. IOCC will provide $10,000 of support including basic hygiene supplies and clothing for families who were displaced by the explosions. Psychological support and recreational activities will also be provided to children and young people.
This month, Fr. John Erickson will journey to Tanzania as an OCMC Mission Specialist to teach seminarians at the Kasikizi Catechetical Center. Fr. John began teaching at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in 1973 and is currently the Peter N. Gramowich Professor of Church History. He is also a well-known expert in Canon Law.
The Orthodox Church in Tanzania has grown tremendously under the leadership of His Eminence Jeronymos, Metropolitan of Mwanza. In the past 10 years, the number of parishes has more than tripled, and the number of Faithful has more than doubled. His Eminence has maintained a missionary spirit that helps the Church in Tanzania to thrive.
Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Alexy II has voiced the hope that the UN will ensure the rights of Orthodox believers in Kosovo and Metochia.
"I hope the United Nations will do its best to ensure the access of Orthodox Christians to sacred places in Kosovo and prevent acts of violence against religious sites on that territory," he told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the St. Daniel's Monastery in Moscow on Thursday.
The president of the European Commission met with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in a visit to the Orthodox Patriarchate based in Constantinople on Friday.
Jose Manuel Barroso is on the second day of a three-day visit to Turkey, which is vying for EU membership. On Thursday, Barroso welcomed a Turkish decision to return property, such as school buildings, churches and orphanages, seized from Jewish and Christian foundations decades ago.
Barroso said the move was "a welcome step forward to address the difficulties of non-Muslim religious communities."