In a response to a response
The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, as well as all public in Serbia and abroad, with shock and regret received a cover media news on brutal physical violence as a "therapeutical treatment" at a "spiritual rehabilitation centre" which has been functioning for many years obviously with the knowledge and with the approval of His Grace Bishop Dr Artemije of Raska and Prizren, and governed by protopresbyter Branislav Peranovic and his assistant priest Dejan Jakovljevic. It is situated in the Diocese of Raska and Prizren, close to the monastery of Crna Reka, actually next to the relics of St Peter of Korish, a witness of God's love and an antipode to any kind of violence. On this poignant and unpleasant event the Holy Synod of Bishops informed the public with the communiqué of May, 23 in which condemned brutal methods of the treatment of those afflicted with the illness of drug addiction, and called on His Grace Bishop Artemije to dismiss illegal stationary near Crna Reka and to subject wrongdoers of this hideous acts to canonical responsibility, and also called on competent civil authorities to investigate this case and take measures within their competence, while to the victims of this violence and to all those who have been affected in any way by it , the Holy Synod expressed its most sincere sorrow.
On very next day, May 24, His Grace Bishop Artemije made a statement to the TANJUG, which he did not just try to defend the indefensible, but was trying to mislead the public by changing statements and by the criticism on behalf of the communiqué of the Synod, and what's more, to replace the accusation against the wrongdoers of this violence into an accusation against the Synod of his own Church by insinuation that no other than he "opens one new affair in the Church". Therefore, the beaters in clerical dress or without it did not make this affair, yet the Holy Synod. So this Grace gentleman published the unbelievable construction, adjusted to his newest obsession, about the globalistic dictate to all and everyone except him and his know-it-all advisors. This construction looks like this: Washington pressures the government in Belgrade, the government in Belgrade pressures the Synod, and then, it seems the Synod pressures the innocent "therapists" in His Diocese, so in this way, Him as well. One has to have quite an imagination in order to think like this. All in all, it is obviously to Him, that this is "a framed case", " taken from the attic", someone's retaliation (it is not hard to guess whose!) because of his heroic decision not to let Joseph Biden visit the monastery of Dechani and similar things... So it must be answered to all his hypothesis and thesis:
1. His Grace Bishop Artemije gave the statement to Tanjug: " The centre which is talked about these days is not within Monastery of Crna Reka, as it is said in the communiqué of the Holy Synod of Bishops, but in a vicinity of the monastery and has nothing in common".
Our comment is:
The Synod's texts said in the refuge of Crna Reka, and His Grace said within. It is not the same at all. We believe it is lapsus linguae.
The spiritual rehabilitation centre Crna Reka was established on the estate of the monastery of Crna Reka, which belongs to the Diocese of Raska and Prizren. In case that a land was sold or consigned to protopresbyter Branislav Peranovic, the Patriarchate head board would be informed about that, which is not the case here. On that land were built also a few solid objects which serve to needs of the Centre. If this land is still a part of the monastery of Crna Reka estate, these construction activities could not be done without the approval of the monastery head office or the ruling hierarch.
In his interview to the daily newspaper Kurir on May, 25 2009, protopresbyter Branislav Peranovic claimed explicitly: " The Raska-Prizren Diocese and Bishop Artemije are the founders of this camp which is the church establishment. If He brings a decision to close the camp, and he is the only one who has the right to do it, I will be obedient to my Bishop in all". The interview with protopresbyter Branislav Peranovic, on the same subject, was published the same day in Press, a daily newspaper. By these statements protopresbyter Branislav Peranovic all responsibility passed on Bishop Artemije as the founder of the Centre.
2. Consequently Bishop Artemije also claimed: " The Centre is not an illegal stationary, as it is said in that communiqué, but is was legally registered at the state institutions". He also added that at the Centre monks did not work and that they were not involved in its work.
Our comment is:
Whereas, the Centre, according to statements of competent people, does not have the license of the Ministry of Health for the treatment of patients, nor is led by medically qualified staff, it is obviously not the case with the legally registered institution and that is why this word has been used in the communiqué of the Synod. If the Centre is really registered at the state institutions, then it is a question how and on what basis it was done.
At the Centre Crna Reka monks really do not work. And nobody claims that they are involved in its work. Though, unfortunately, at the centre two clerics of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren are working (those who beat patients black and blue) and they are protopresbyter Branislav Peranovic and presbyter Dejan Jakovljevic, which are paid by the Diocese of Raska and Prizren. Within the Centre there is a chapel, actually side chapel, in which, upon the blessing of the ruling hierarch, regular services are being held.
3. Finally, His Grace Bishop of Raska and Prizren "reminded" that the director Peranovic "had been a guest for a few times in TV shows" and " spoke openly about methods which were used at the Centre in order to heal, and not to torture", so he concluded that all of that someone "took from the attic" and "all that smells" like the case "Biden - Visoki Dechani".
Our comment is:
If Peranovic really spoke of beatings as a nature of his therapeutic methods in the public, on TV, then it is neither excuse, nor mitigating circumstances, but it is just an eloquent confirmation of folk wisdom expressed by a Serbian proverb. Either we or Bishop of Raska and Prizren does not know whether these beatings are used to achieve a goal in a medical treatment or a goal in torture: that knows only God and those who beat in His name.
Insinuations about "framed case" obviously are unreliable, as well as other claims are irresponsible, probably from certain circles of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren, which were published in the daily newspaper Danas (see text about the Biden case by Jelena Tasic, May 22, 2009). In this text it was written that the decision of the Assembly on accepting Biden's visit to Visoki Dechani was brought without voting and in favor of this decision only ten bishops voted. Actually, there was no voting because no one requested it and no bishop did not objected on this decision during the Assembly, except Bishop Artemije who defended his position. Even he did not deliberated about the right of the Assembly to take a position different to his. And this time, unfortunately, Bishop Artemije was alone in the Assembly; all were voted against his decision.
However, news about this "physiotherapy" at the Crna Reka centre was before in time then the dispute about the Biden's visit to Dechani: it was published already on May, 21 in the magazine Vreme, a then it was appeared through all media. So, how the Biden case could retroactively influence on the Crna Reka case? Or: how could an imaginary triptych Washington-Belgrade-The Synod react to something which would yet follow?
There are so many questions. Answers too. Sapienti sat.
All in all, this and similar manipulations with information, which have been published without the authorization of the Assembly in all daily publications, and then on some anonymous pseudo zealot forums, bring a lot of damage to the Church. In this way, consciously or subconsciously, it is being done against the church unity.
Let God give us all a spirit of healthy mind, quiet mind, tolerance and , above all, love!
Bishop Irinej of Bachka.