Information Service of
the Serbian Orthodox Church

July 1, 2004



His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle together with the following members of the Holy Assembly of Bishops: Bishop Irinej of Nis, Bishop Jovan of Sumadija, Bishop Joanikije of Budimlje and Niksic and Metropolitan Nikolaj of Dabro-Bosnia visited Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Jeremija Starovlah and his son, Catechist Aleksandar Starovlah, at the Military Medical Academy in Belgrade where they have been receiving medical treatment for injuries inflicted the night of April 1, 2004 during an attack by SFOR troops.

Father Jeremija and Aleksandar Starovlah greeted His Holiness and the bishops on their feet and in much better physical condition than during the previous visit. Pleased with the progress they had shown, Patriarch Pavle expressed the hope that they would soon be able to leave the hospital and continue their treatment on an outpatient basis. Present with Military Medical Academy director, General-Colonel Dr. Zoran Stankovic, Section for Morale and Information director, General-Major Vidosav Kovacevic, and the department heads of the most important military health institute was Dr. Mirsada Praso, the head of the Department of Anesthesiology of the University Clinical Center in Tuzla, where the two wounded men were admitted the night of April 1, who was exceptionally successful in providing them with emergency medical assistance. The physicians informed the Patriarch and the bishops regarding the patients’ condition upon admittance and during the course of their treatment.

Father Jeremija was admitted to the Orthopedic and Traumatological Clinic where he underwent surgery on his right upper arm and received treatment for a broken rib. After appropriate measures were taken, a significant improvement resulted and Father Jeremija is in good physical condition, which will be enhanced by further physical therapy. His son, Catechist Aleksandar, was admitted with a severe brain concussion resulting from a broken arcade and the base of the skull after the removal of an epidural hematoma at Tuzla Hospital. After intensive therapy, his treatment continued at the Neurosurgical Clinic with further complications appearing during the course of his hospitalization, which have been successfully treated by multidisciplinary therapies. Aleksandar still suffers from damage to his sight from the left eye and other treatable consequences.

After the visit, His Holiness Patriarch Pavle, the members of the Holy Assembly of Bishops, Military Medical Academy director Dr. Zoran Stankovic, physicians involved in the treatment and Dr. Mirsada Praso held an exceptionally well-attended press conference. The Serbian Patriarch expressed his gratitude to the staff of the Military Medical Academy and especially to Dr. Mirsada Praso and the staff of the University Clinical Center in Tuzla who, with God’s help and thanks to their great personal efforts and expertise, were exceptionally successful in their treatment of these two clerics of the Serbian Orthodox Church. His Holiness was especially emphatic regarding the importance of determining the circumstances under which they were injured. For Christians truth is not merely a relationship among ideas and material objects but an essential thing for the Lord Himself said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

Dr. Mirsada Praso said that all medical staff of the University Clinical Center in Tuzla involved in the Starovlah case did their best to assist in the recovery of Father Jeremija and Aleksandar Starovlah, and added that she personally was very pleased by their rapid recovery.

Metropolitan Nikolaj of the Diocese of Dabro-Bosnia expressed his deepest thanks to Dr. Praso and all medical staff of Tuzla Hospital.

Answering questions by reporters, General-Colonel Dr. Zoran Stankovic, the director of the Military Medical Academy, said that based on the intensity, distribution and number of injuries, it is clear they were not inflicted by explosives but by physical actions and blows with objects inflicted by one or more persons. All further details need to be established by the appropriate court officials, said Dr. Stankovic.


His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle together with members of the Holy Assembly of Bishops received Dr. Michael Wenninger, the political consultant to the President of the European Commission, Roman Prodi.

Welcoming his guest, His Holiness emphasized that it is a great honor for him personally and for the Serbian Orthodox Church to receive such a renowned and very important politician, diplomat and deeply devout man and speak with him regarding current key issues, especially regarding the difficult living conditions of the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija. Dr. Wenninger assured the Serbian Patriarch that everyone in the European Commission is aware of the exceptionally difficult position of the Serbian people, the Serbian Orthodox Church and Orthodox holy shrines in Kosovo and Metohija. According to Dr. Wenninger, the goal is to show that adequate protection of Serbian patrimonial sites is a condition for Europe’s further cooperation with Kosovo institutions. Dr. Wenninger expressed support and emphasized the need to continue informing the international community regarding the destruction of Serbian churches in Kosovo and Metohija. Dr. Wenninger emphasized that he and Roman Prodi had prepared a publication on the protection of religious objects on the territory of eight Eastern European countries and that he expects the poster depicting a photograph of the torched church of Bogorodica Ljeviska (the Holy Virgin of Ljevis) in Prizren and the publication to have impact on the public. This notable politician is also responsible for the First Conference of Academy Presidents in Venice where current problems in our region were discussed. A second conference is scheduled to be held in Budva at the end of October of this year. At the conclusion of the meeting both parties expressed the desire to protect and preserve the Serbian people and their holy shrines in Kosovo and Metohija.


The only thing that has been restored for now is the Dioclean title, meaning the re-establishment of the ancient bishop’s title that confirms the uninterrupted continuity of its existence in this region. The Diocese of Zeta – the present-day Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral of which I am a vicar (auxiliary) bishop with the aforementioned title – is located in the same geographic region where a bishop’s cathedra already existed in earlier historical times (in Dioclea, Zlatica, Londodoclea). By its very location the new bishop’s cathedra (of Zeta) to some extent enjoyed continuity with the Diocese of Dioclea, which in the meanwhile was extinguished (11th-12th centuries). The seat was transferred from Podgorica to the monastery of St. Michael on Prevlaka. In the ensuing centuries the bishop’s cathedra no longer existed on the territory of greater Podgorica. Today’s residents of Podgorica and surroundings come to the monastery of Ostrog to be baptized and accept Orthodoxy. By this very act they are joining the medieval Diocese of Dioclea, i.e., the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. It is natural that the Abbot of Ostrog should bear the title of the newly elected bishop, reflecting the essential issues with respect to the mission of the church and its pastoral role. Because of the special mission of Ostrog, not only in Montenegro, but also in the Serbian Orthodox Church, this represents a spiritual renewal among our people. This also represents an important step relevant solely to church policy, which should be differentiated from everyday political and transient policy. The language spoken from the Ostrog source is the language of faith, hope and love, the language of repentance and brotherly reconciliation.

Therefore, the title of Bishop of Dioclea is the title of the Archpastor of Christ’s Church in the early, mid-Byzantine, Roman-Romanic Dioclea, a city created in the middle of the Zeta plain, at the mouth of two rivers, the Moraca and the Zeta, near present-day Podgorica, and later relocated as Londodoclea to the safer mountains in the direction of Spuz, like some new Mt. Tavor, and today to the fortress of Orthodoxy – Ostrog, once an ascetic monks’ cell, today “the city on the Mountain”. The Abbot of Ostrog is enthroned in this City, which is visited not only the Orthodox but also by the entire Christian world, and it is therefore suitable that he bears the title of undivided Apostolic heritage. By this move or decision on its part the Assembly of our Church has affirmed the Diocese of Dioclea as the foundation of the spiritual heritage in this region. This tradition must not be abandoned and forgotten but must serve instead as an inexhaustible spring of spiritual inspiration for present and future generations. Taking into account the growing organizational and missionary needs of the Orthodox Church in Montenegro and the Littoral, it was necessary to thus express support and to reinforce the evangelical mission and current spiritual renewal on the territory of the Metropolitanate, which is under continuous threat... With this decision we advance into the future unencumbered by the “reconstruction” of the past.

This is the first reason for the restoration of the Diocese of Dioclea; the second reason is the determination of the Serbian Orthodox Church to more strongly emphasize the inviolable and uninterrupted continuity of its diocese on the territory of present-day Montenegro by reaching far back to its Dioclean roots and “rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) and protecting the Church’s uncorrupted Teaching as the guarantee of our salvation. This determination also implies the resoluteness of our Serbian Orthodox Church not only to unmask the illegal pretensions of atheist, pseudo-clerical and non-Orthodox church structures on its canonic territory but to decisively attacks by the usurper by the strength of Christ’s truth “and the powers of death shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18) and its objective and irrefutable historical testimony.

And finally, as a term known to the more educated members of the church, the name Dioclea has been in use in the standard Serbian language during the entire Middle Ages as the only term for the aforementioned geographical and historical concept. Only in the 20th century did a vulgar form of it, distorted and croatized, appear in folk speech – Duklja. Inevitably it resulted in the elimination of the original form from literary use by the end of the 20th century and, thanks primarily to Serbian historiography, it was marginalized and completely replaced. Hence by restoring this early Christian title in the twenty-first century the Serbian Orthodox Church on the Ladder of mysterious ascent and in accordance with higher reason will restore the lost national memory on this plan as well. The difference between Dioclea and Duklja is not merely phonetic nor is it merely an issue of the right to national self-determination and ideological choice but essential and far deeper. Our responsibility for our potential flock in this region is consequently great. Come Judgment Day we, too, will have to account for everything we could have done for this people but failed to do because of our pride or prejudices.


A church dedicated to the Unmercenary Physicians Cosmas and Damian will soon be consecrated at Cacak Hospital. Protopresbyter Branko Kerkezovic said that Holy Services will be served here for the patients and hospital staff. This hospital had its own church before World War II where patients and staff prayed for health and salvation.

Source: Politika daily, Belgrade, July 1, 2004


His Grace Bishop Fotije of Dalmatia served Holy Hierarchal Liturgy on St. Vitus Day – Vidovdan with the concelebration of the diocesal clergy and monks in the church of Lazarica in Dalmatian Kosovo.

In his sermon on this occasion Bishop Fotije emphasized the two key factors that have guided the entire history of the Serbian people: mass christianization in the time of Sts. Cyril and Methodius and, by virtue of this fact, the entry of our people into the Church of the Living God, and the Kosovo Covenant where, following the model of Golgotha, we accepted sacrifice as the purpose of our existence.


On St. Vitus Day – Vidovdan a memorial service was served at the Strazica Memorial Center near Jama to the victims of Communist terror. The memorial service in the Serbian Orthodox municipality of Pljevlja was served with the blessing of His Grace Bishop Filaret of Milesevo. A large number of local residents, members of the families of the decease, representatives of the Serbian People’s Party and others attended the service. After the service, speakers at the commemoration included Momir Vojvodic, Acim Visnjic, Novica Stanic and others.

Source: Politika daily, Belgrade, July 1, 2004

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