The regular meeting of the Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church began at the Patriarchate of Pec monastery with the joint serving of the holy hierarchical Divine Liturgy and the invocation of the Holy Spirit and continued in Prizren with the rite of consecration of the renovated Prizren Seminary. Afterward, all regular meetings, under the presidency of His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irinej, were held in Belgrade. Participating in the Assembly were all diocesan hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church with the exception of Bishop Lavrentije of Sabac who, out of justifiable reasons, was not able to attend.
The most important theme of this year’s Assembly was preparation of the Serbian Orthodox Church to take part in the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, to meet this June in Crete. Regarding this forthcoming pan Orthodox Council, the Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, adopted a document expressing their principle position on all major issues to be discussed and decided upon at the Great Council.
To all Diocesan Clergy, Church-School Congregation Boards and Faithful
Dear Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy and our dear Serbian Orthodox faithful,
Christ is Risen!
As you certainly all know, our entire Diocese, and indeed our entire Serbian Orthodox Church, suffered a terrible and tragic loss on the very day of the Holy Pascha of our Lord with the destruction of our cathedral church of St. Sava in New York City. While the church building is a total loss, we rejoice and thank God that there were no serious injuries or loss of life. The cause of the fire is still under investigation by the New York Fire Department, and we await their findings.
Nonetheless, our Serbian Orthodox brothers and sisters in the New York area have lost their spiritual home, the heart of their religious and national life. Their loss is personal for them, deeply emotional and truly tragic. Yet, even as the embers of the temple still smoldered, the community expressed its determination to continue its church life there. The building is gone, but the living church remains, and its members need our prayers and our support, both spiritual and financial.
The Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava in New York City, an architectural treasure listed on the National Register of Historic Places and a New York City landmark, was tragically destroyed by a fire on Sunday, May 1, 2016, on Easter, the holiest day for Eastern Orthodox Christians.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. Designed by noted architect Richard Upjohn and begun in 1842, the church was consecrated in 1855 as Trinity Chapel until it was sold to the Serbian community in 1943. Celebrated author Edith Wharton was married in this church, and Nikola Tesla, world-renowned scientist and inventor, was memorialized with a bronze bust, which miraculously sustained no damage. To date, the Orthodox community has spent over $4.5 million dollars to restore and improve the complex, which had continued to serve the needs of its parishioners and community through war and peace, tragedy and joy.
The Serbian Orthodox Church to her spiritual children at Pascha, 2016
By the Grace of God
Orthodox Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade Karlovci and Serbian Patriarch, with all the Hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church to all the clergy, monastics, and all the sons and daughters of our Holy Church: grace, mercy and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, with the joyous Paschal greeting:
Christ is Risen!
“Christ is risen, trampling down death and raising the dead. Rejoice, all you people!”
(Paschal Canon, Ode 9)
Let us celebrate today, dear brothers and sisters, our Lord God, “For He has visited and redeemed His people” (St. Luke 1:68) and with the light of His Resurrection He enlightens the entire universe! Let us glorify our Lord “who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised for our justification”. (Romans 4:25) Let us glorify our Lord Who, having become a man for us, has died so that by His Resurrection he could open to us doors of new life! For all of us who have been baptized into Christ, in Christ we have died to the old man, so that resurrected, reborn, renewed in Him, we can live with Him forever. (cf. Romans 6:8) Christ is risen from the dead and has become the Firstborn of the dead (cf. I Corinthians 15:20), so that we too who have died in Adam, may be made alive in Christ, becoming a new creation.
Her Majesty ELIZABETH II
The Queen of the United Kingdom,
Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and
Head of the Commonwealth
London SW1A 1AA
You have placed crowns of precious stones upon their heads.
They asked life of you and you gave it to them—long life forever and evermore!
In this day in which we commemorate the 90th year of Your Majesty's birth, kindly allow Us to express, on Our own behalf and on behalf of Our hierarchs, clergy, monastics and faithful, living throughout Your domain Our earnest offering of congratulations and sincere appreciation to the Lord for Your long life, and for Your most gracious Reign.
As the Spiritual Leader of Serbian Orthodox Christians, living in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as throughout the Commonwealth, We rejoice knowing that Your Majesty is both their Sovereign and Godmother to His Royal Highness Crown Prince Alexander II of Serbia.
We pray The Lord of Lords and The King of Kings, Christ our God, to bless Your Majesty with many more years of health and prosperity, peace and joy!
Long may You reign!
With Our most profound respect,
Archbishop of Pech
Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci and
Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church
His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irinej expressed to His Majesty King Philippe, The King of the Belgians, his condolences over a series of terrorist attacks committed in Bruxelles on March 22, 2016.
To His Majesty
PHILIPPE of Belgium
Bruxelles – Laeken
We have been deeply disturbed by the news on terrorist attacks in Bruxelles. In particular, we grieve over the fact that these attacks took away many human lives, and that hundreds of them have been injured.
These are difficult times for the people of Belgium, but also for the entire civilized world. It is with pain that the Serbian Orthodox people are looking to the victims that lose their lives in the increasingly frequent terrorist attacks.
On behalf of the fullness of the Serbian Orthodox Church as well as on Our own behalf, please accept sincere condolences with Our prayers to the Lord, the only Merciful One, to grant an eternal repose to the souls of all the killed and comfort to their families and relatives in their pain as well as a quick recovery to the wounded.
I r i n e j