Information Service of
the Serbian Orthodox Church

June 7, 2004

REPRESENTATIVES OF THEOLOGICAL FACULTY IN BELGRADE VISIT PONTIFICAL LATERAN UNIVERSITY IN ROME

A delegation of the Orthodox Theological Faculty in Belgrade left on Monday, June 7, 2004, on an official visit to the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome. The representatives of the Theological Faculty, including dean presvyter Dr. Vladan Perisic, assistant Bogdan Lubardic, M.Th., and archimandrite Andrej (Cilerdzic), the secretary for interchurch cooperation of the Holy Synod, will be returning a visit made to the Theological Faculty last year by the rector of the Pontifical Lateran University, Monsignor Salvatore Fisichella.

The purpose of this visit is to further theological-research cooperation, exchange of theological knowledge and experience, as well as the possibility of student exchanges for a deeper understanding of the mission of the Church in the modern world.

The domestic public was incorrectly informed recently by some media that an official delegation of the Serbian Orthodox Church will be visiting the seat of the Roman Catholic Church.

The visit for the opening of academic cooperation is especially significant taking into account the fact that our Theological Faculty has finally been reintegrated into the University of Belgrade and that its first international contact with its new status is with a research and educational institution of world renown. This is without doubt an event of spiritual and academic significance not only for the Theological Faculty but also for the University of Belgrade.

UNIVERSITY RECTOR VISITS THEOLOGICAL FACULTY

In keeping with the practice of visiting all the faculties of the University of Belgrade, on June 4, 2004, the newly appointed rector of the University of Belgrade, Dr. Dejan Popovic, made his first visit to the Theological Faculty in Belgrade. On the occasion of the passing of the Law on the University on the centennial of the First Serbian Uprising, the Theological Faculty occupied the prime and most honored position. This visit reconfirmed that the Theological Faculty is an inseparable part of the University of Belgrade, which it never ceased to be either legally nor in essence.

EXHIBITION OF WORKS BY STUDENTS OF SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH ACADEMY

On June 8, 2004 at 6 p.m. in the studio of the Academy of Arts and Conservation of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Kralja Petra I Street number 2, His Grace Bishop Ignjatije of Branicevo will open the year end exhibition of works by students of the Academy of Arts and Conservation of the Theological Faculty of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

To be exhibited are works from the areas of fresco painting, icon painting, mosaic, modelling and documentation that attests to the restoration and conservation of all icons and frescoes done by the students of the Serbian Orthodox Church Academy under the guidance of their teachers during the course of the 2003-4 academic year.

The opening of the exhibition will feature chants by the Chamber Choir of the Theological Faculty of the Serbian Orthodox Church under the direction of Predrag Miodrag, a lecturer at the Theological Faculty and the Academy of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

NEWLY APPOINTED BISHOP JOVAN OF DIOCLETIA SERVES LITURGY AT SITE OF 9TH CENTURY CHURCH

His Grace the newly appointed Bishop Jovan (Puric) of Diocletia served Holy Liturgy in Martinici Gradina near Spuz in Montenegro on the foundation of the church of of the Holy Archangel Michael (9th century), the former seat of the Diocese of Diocletia.

The Orthodox Diocese of Diocletia (according to scarce but reliable historical sources) existed in this area from the 5th century under the jurisdiction of the Byzantine patriarch and emperor. After the war waged against Byzantium by Bulgarian emperor Samuilo, during which prince Jovan Vladimir was also killed (10th century), the last Bishop of Diocletia, called Jovan (a renowned chanter and composer who wrote homilies to martyrs of Christ), withdrew to Dubrovnik.

This ancient Diocese then died out only to be resurrected recently when the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church decided to appoint as Vicar Bishop of Diocletia under the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral the first bishop in a thousand years with the same name as his famous predecessor ten centuries ago, Jovan.

APPEAL OF THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CINEMATOGRAPHERS OF SLAVIC AND ORTHODOX PEOPLES

We, the members of the International Association of Cinematographers of Slavic and Orthodox Peoples, an organization numbering more than 12,000 members, creators who work in the field of European cinematography, as well as all participants of the 13th Golden Knight International Film Festival held in Irkutsk (Russia) from May 22 to May 31, 2004, provide you with this document adopted at the closing ceremony of the film forum by all membres of IACSOP and participants in the Golden Knight International Film Festival in which we express our deepest protest, coming from the depths of our soul and heart, against the genocide of the Serbian people living in Kosovo and Metohija on the primordial territory of Serbia. Genocide on this holy land is being carried out by illegal Albanian outlaw organizations which are also inciting the local Albanian population to the same misdeeds and doing so under the eyes of international peacekeeping forces.

We express our protest against the barbaric, unthinkable to the modern world, systematic, five year-long destruction of over 150 Orthodox monasteries and churches, many of them among the oldest holy shrines and monuments of Serbian and European culture, some of them under the protection of UNESCO.

This spiritual and physical genocide of the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija, which is still happening, must be stopped by a Resolution of the European Parliament: It must be stopped once and for all by your decision.

The apocalypse which is unfolding in the very heart of Europe must be brought to an end!

All of us, the cultural workers of Europe, believe that all reasonable European parliamentarians share our common feeling of anger and shame because of the anarchy on the territory of Kosovo and Metohija. We hope that this European disgrace which is happening under the eyes of all the peoples in the world will be stopped immediately. Europe which endured so many casualties for its liberation and for the liberation of the entire world from fascism does not deserve such a humiliating and perspectiveless fate.

Todayís Europe is not a concentration camp!
Todayís Europe is not a military base of anyoneís interests.
Todayís Europe must be a model of love of humanity and love of peace!
All we can count on is the conscience of every one of You. And on our collective conscience!

We are convinced that You, the representatives of so many European peoples, are in a position to stop the horror and unprecedented trampling of human rights which is occurring in Kosovo and Metohija, the endless murders of innocent citizens of Serbian nationality and the destruction of the oldest churches of Christianity and Orthodoxy in Europe.

We hope that you will solve this problem immediately by the adoption of a Resolution of the European Parliament. This will be a confirmation that you truly intent to defend the life of every person in the world, their social position, as well as peace and freedom for every citizen. This will be a confirmation that a unified Europe, de facto if not de jure, is capable of showing the rest of the world that human life is more valuable than anything by passing a resolution on Kosovo.

And that the human life of every person on this planet is inviolable, that it is the Lordís work and therefore priceless!

We believe in and place our trust in you: We hope that you are truly the representatives and guardians of Europe!

Respectfully,

N. P. Burlyayev
President of the Golden Knight International Film Festival
President of IACSOP

IMPRESSED BY THE SPIRITUAL BEAUTY OF THE PEOPLE IN KOSOVO AND METOHIJA

Captain Fabio Ficuciello, a representative of the Italian carabinieri engaged in the protection of patrimonial sites as part of the program of establishing peace in Kosovo and Metohija, was recently received by His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle and several members of the Holy Assembly of Bishops.

During his visit to Kosovo and Metohija, Capt. Ficuciello observed that the Serbian Orthodox Church owns almost all cultural monuments in this region and that it is part of the world cultural heritage in terms of its significance. This inspired him to make a film during the period from November 2002 to May 2003 about the most important Serbian churches and monasteries. On this occasion Capt. Ficuciello gave Serbian Patriarch Pavle a copy of the film and conveyed the willingness of Italy to assist in the restoration of some of the destroyed churches. In conversation with the Patriarch and the bishops regarding the catastrophic consequences of the recent March violence, it was agreed to make a new film showing a comparison of the most important medieval churches before and after their destruction by terrorists. We spoke with Capt. Ficuciello on this occasion.

Mr. Ficuciello, you came from peaceful Italy and the eternal city of Rome to Metohija, a completely new environment, a different world. What was your encounter like with our Holy Shrines?

I was part of the peacekeeping mission in Kosovo under the auspices of NATO for seven months. I am an officer of the carabinieri who worked on the protection of cultural heritage in my homeland. Since 2002 our command has been prepared to intervene in other areas, wishing to inform the public, prepare documentation regarding the situation of cultural property and provide protection. In this case, it was in Kosovo and western Metohija. We approached the task very thoroughly and comprehensively and prepared a video document on video cassette and DVD. We sought to have an objective approach and the records themselves are truly valuable from the historical and artistic aspects.

Although I was relatively informed, when I saw all these 13th and 14th century churches I was truly surprised by their beauty as were we all. These are, first of all, Christian sites and consequently near to us as Italians, too. Our attitude toward them was full of respect. When we entered the churches, we tried to be discreet and with a sense of respect for a holy site which is holy for all of Christianity. It is our duty to protect these sites which are not only religious but also cultural properties. As well, we worked on protecting them in the best manner possible. This is not always an issue of physical presence; it is also important to register and film, to photograph everything inside the churches and monasteries due to the always present possibility of theft or destruction. In this manner, every article from an Orthodox Christian church in Kosovo and Metohija that is offered for sale anywhere in the world will be immediately recognized. Those who are destroying cultural treasures cannot be called anything else but terrorists. Only a terrorist can destroy a church or steal articles which in addition to their historical and cultural value are also priceless in the religious sense.

There is quite a bit of Italian influence in the architecture of our medieval churches.

Despite all differences, there are many things that we share, such a painting techniques, mosaics, some elements in architecture. Decani Monastery, for example, has a very specific Italian inspiration. Of course, there are many differences as well as common points not only in building technique but in the Christian essence. These are two branches of the same tree. That is why everything is so nicely joined in the architectural form.

Unfortunately, many monuments of Serbian Orthodox culture are not sufficiently known in the West. When I developed these photographs and showed them to people who did not have the oppotunity to see the churches and admire the frescoes for themselves, they were truly amazed by the fact that such testimonials from the 13th century even exist in Kosovo. I spoke with a university professor of art history who asked me, after seeing the videos of the exquisite church interiors, where they were located because everything reminded him of the revolution in painting begun by Giotto in Italy. Monuments of spirituality and culture in Kosovo and Metohija are something of tremendous importance for all of humanity. They concern not only Serbia and Europe but the global cultural community. They have what would generally be described in the (Roman) Catholic Church as ecumenical grandeur.

I would like to take this opportunity, in accordance with my duty, to say that in additional to monumental testimony of spiritual and artistic beauty, there are also people in Kosovo and Metohija who unite us and bring us closer. I was impressed by the beauty, the spiritual beauty of the people. I would like to thank the monks and nuns who live in the monasteries there for their kindness, hospitality and openness. I am honored by the fact that I have, in a sense, won their trust because they have understood the purpose of my job. Itís not a job for tourists wearing uniforms but a job whose purpose and justification is to assist in the protection of these works. And that is why I would like to most sincerely thank all Kosovo and Metohija Serbs and monks and nons who have taught these soldiers the meaning of spiritual strength. Itís a strange thing, being there. We guarded them and should have been the ones encouraging them but they, especially the elderly sisters of the Pec Patriarchate, were the ones encouraging us with their calmness and spiritual strength. They would tell us: ďDonít worry; no matter what we will go on. There is no fear in our hearts. I have been wonderful people who are monks in Gracanica and Decani. I attended one of their religious services and found it a singular experience.

We would like to thank you and your colleagues for courageously defending and protecting our spiritual homeland.

Thank you for your kindness and hospitality.

It is fortunate that an Italian contingent that respects the tradition of these settlements and defends them with the respect and dedication they deserve has arrived in western Kosovo, where important sacred sites have been preserved.

It is Godís providence.

It has been a new and important experience for us, too, and we have learned a lot. In todayís world, where people have a tendency to view and accept things superficially, it is easy to give up at difficult moments. Recalling the spiritual strength of the monks and nuns in Kosovo and Metohija is a call to everyone to never surrender and always remain determined and standing tall.

[Serbian Translation Services]


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