PUBLIC COMMUNIQUÉ FROM THE REGULAR CONVOCATION OF THE HOLY ASSEMBLY OF BISHOPS OF THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH HELD IN BELGRADE
In the Patriarchate in Belgrade, with the blessings of His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle, and under the presidency of His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral, who in accordance with Article 62 of the Constitution of the Serbian Orthodox Church substitutes for His Holiness, who is currently absent due to illness, the regular convocation of The Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church was held from 15 to 21 May 2008. All of the diocesan hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the country and abroad, as well as His Beatitude Jovan, Archbishop of Ochrid and Metropolitan of Skopje, together with the hierarchs of the Autonomous Archdiocese of Ochrid participated in the work of The Assembly.
In the spirit of Paschal joy and with love in the Risen Lord, confronted by great contemporary spiritual challenges, The Holy Assembly of Bishops concerned itself with issues vital to the life, order and mission of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
In addition to numerous ongoing concerns, The Assembly paid special attention to Kosovo and Metohija in wake of the illegal proclamation of “independence” of this Region. Concurrently, The Assembly put forth its appreciation to all those who did not recognise this unjust act, and especially to those who manifested sincere solidarity with our Church and co-suffering love toward our Serbian people, stating once and for ever to all that the Serbian Church and people will never submit to the lawless severing of Kosovo and Metohija.
The restoration processes involving our sanctuaries in Kosovo and Metohija, destroyed during the pogrom of March 2004, were taken into consideration and it was determined that the same are to be continued in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia, and the international institutions and representatives of UNMIK – as the only international authority and legal factor in accordance with UNSC Resolution 1244. Insisting on the acceptance and sanctification of these restored churches and other ecclesiastical structures will enable the clergy and/or faithful to inhabit the same, thereby safeguarding and restoring them to their intended purpose. The Assembly believes that the Serbian Orthodox people will be thus encouraged to persevere and return to their age-old hearths in the Diocese of Raska and Prizren, to their heartland and sanctuaries.
With the aim, however, of preserving the venerable prayerful tradition and living witness of the Church in the contemporary world, The Assembly confirmed its position with regard to the celebration of the Divine Liturgy and other liturgical services in the spirit of the age-old liturgical tradition of our Church. The Assembly celebration of the Holy Hierarchical Divine Liturgy in the Temple of Saint Sava on Vrachar, once again manifested this, our firm unity at the Lord’s Table, on the Feast of the Translation of the Relics of Saint Sava, on Monday, 6/19 May 2008.
Particular attention was paid to continuing the building of the Memorial Temple of Saint Sava on Vrachar with the express desire, come invitation to all the faithful of our Church to assist in the completion of this testimonial temple of the Serbian people.
The Assembly once again showed its spiritual and archpastoral responsibility by paying due attention to the circumstances and difficult problems confronting our dioceses in the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, as well as to the life of our dioceses in the Diaspora throughout the world. The Assembly Fathers thereby deliberated on issues pertinent to the life of the Church in Montenegro, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina appealing to their authorities to respect the elementary religious and property rights of the adherents of the Serbian Orthodox Church. In like manner, an appeal was issued to the authorities of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to desist with the persecution of His Beatitude Jovan, Archbishop of Ochrid and Metropolitan of Skopje, and to remove all prohibitions and other illegal measures taken against the Autonomous Archdiocese of Ochrid.
The issue of Church property, the preservation of the existing and the restitution of the confiscated, as well as the issue of ecclesiastical foundations and funds were taken into consideration.
The Assembly paid diligent attention and concern to relations and cooperation with Sister Orthodox Churches, as well as relations and dialogue with other Churches and Communities of Faith. The Assembly adopted the Report of the Commission of The Holy Assembly of Bishops on the dialogue with the representatives of the Roman Catholic Church in Ravenna (Italy) and constituted that the same dialogue was not held in detriment to the Orthodox Church. Relative to the same, The Holy Assembly was stunned by the behaviour of certain media, both electronic and print, whose aim was obviously not to objectively and responsibly inform the public; rather deliberately construed to spread lies concerning events in the life of the Church. Sadly, with the same intentions and prejudices certain media misrepresented the work in progress of The Assembly and even the health of His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle. The Assembly constituted that such behaviour of certain media does not maintain as its goal timely and truthful reporting to the public; rather to exacerbate confusion and create strife among the faithful in our local Church and the public in general.
To the plenitude of the Serbian Orthodox Church and all persons of good will, The Holy Assembly puts forth its tidings of peace and love, once again greeting all with the most joyous salutation:
CHRIST IS RISEN!