The Theological Faculty of the Serbian Orthodox Church was the recipient of the highest award of the International Fund of United Orthodox People. This Fund annually awards individuals and institutions for “exceptional contributions in promoting the unity of Orthodox people”. His Holiness Alexy II Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia personally presented the award to the Very Rev. Dr. Vladan Perisic, Faculty Dean, on 21 January 2004. The solemn ceremony took place in the facilities of Christ the Savior Church in Moscow before 4,000 guests. Previously, this prestigious award for 2003 was presented to His Beatitude Peter VII, Patriarch of Alexandria, and to Mr. Dimitris Stephanopoulos, President of Greece.
Аppeal of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church to the Macedonian state authorities to release from imprisonment Metropolitan of Veles-Povadarje and Exarch (procurator) of Ohrid kyr John23. January 2004 - 11:22
The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church expresses its profound concern because of the astonishing violence accomplished by the Macedonian State and Church authorities against His Eminence Metropolitan of Veles-Povadarje and Exarch of Ohrid Kyr John, as well as against other clergy and faithful people of the Orthodox Archbishopric of Ohrid.
In this violence, unfortunately, also participate - by its statements and behavior - chief representatives of the State authorities of the Republic of Macedonia who interfere directly in exclusively ecclesiastic matters. These people claim, on one side, that they pass ecclesiastic matters on the responsibility of the Church, while then again they put openly and publicly themselves on side of the schismatic organization, called the Macedonian Orthodox Church, which was even so created by the former communistic regime by interest. That kind of hypocritical relationship towards the Church, leads Macedonian State authorities into suppressing basic human and religious rights what culminates in imprisonment of Metropolitan John in the town of Bitola. Hereby the Macedonian State authorities together with the Orthodox hierarchy of the MOC (which is not recognized by anyone in the Orthodox world) participate in befooling the people that Metropolitan John and other members of the Orthodox Archbishopric of Ohrid, allegedly are "Serbian mercenaries" and "traitors" of their people. Time will prove and the very truth witnesses: these honored people only bring their Church and their people back to the eucharistic unity and to all other straight unity with all Orthodox Churches and people in the world, becoming liberated of being for many decades excommunicated of this community and isolated. People who judge and persecute for something what - according to a healthy-minded person - gives honor to a Church and people, can only be people who have spiritually a contracted horizon and who have lost sensibility for justice, for a true sovereignty of a Church and for a just dignity of a people.
Regarding the latest events, in which, countless times over, violation of human rights and religious freedom was evidenced in the Republic of Macedonia, the Orthodox Archdiocese of Ochrid informs the democratic European media with the following:
On 10 January 2004, following the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in the Chapel of the Resurrection of Christ, police conducted a search under the pretense of searching out firearms. We do not know why the Ministry of the Interior neither informed the public of the reason for the search, nor that they found anything incriminating, as is testified in the transcript signed by two witnesses.