This communique is long, but there is some meat here worth chewing on.
(spc.rs) - 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.
Also of importance was the decision of the Assembly that in good time – meaning soon – preparation begin for the celebration of the 800th anniversary of the independence of the Serbian Orthodox Church (1219-2019), in cooperation with the authorities of Serbia and Republika Srpska and all relative and cultural institutions of the Serbian people. At the same time, the Assembly was pleased to learn from Metropolitan Amphilohije of Montenegro and the Coastlands, of the successful preparations already in place for the 1,000th anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Jovan Vladimir, King of Serbia, which will take place in September of this year in the city of Bar and besides the Patriarch and hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church invitations will be sent to high delegations of all Orthodox Churches. The Order of King Jovan Vladimir has been established , to be awarded to confessors of faith and sufferers in the faith.
As in previous years, the Assembly took into consideration church education, as well as the mission of the Church in general, both internal and external. Protopresbyter Gojko Perovic, the current acting rector of the St. Petar of Cetinje Seminary in Cetinje, was elected Rector of the aforementioned Seminary. The Library of the Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate in Belgrade was given status of the main library in the entire region of the Serbian Orthodox Church. With sadness it was noted that there are still, here and there, schools where religious education is unlawfully discriminated against, even though in general the situation is favorable.
It was noted that the relations between the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Sister Orthodox Churches are exceptionally good, fully in the spirit of the Church’s unity and conciliarity, with one unfortunate exception – the Romanian Patriarchate, whose bishops and clergy for years now - in a non-canonical manner and not in the spirit of brotherly love - enter in the jurisdiction of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Eastern Serbia, particularly in the Timok region. After many past addresses and appeals, unfortunately unsuccessful thus far, the Assembly has once more called upon the Romanian Church to immediately cease this practice which is destructive for the church; otherwise, the problem will be addressed at the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, and in the event that this anti-canonical practice continue even after the Council – the Serbian Orthodox Church, with sincere pain but for the good of the Church – will be forced to cut all liturgical and canonical relations with the Romanian Orthodox Church.
Relations with other Christian churches and communities as well as the Jewish and Islamic communities of Serbia, are traditionally good, which, unfortunately, cannot be said of relations with the extreme circles in the Roman Catholic Church in Croatia and in Bosnia and Hercegovina, as well as relations with similar circles in the Islamic communities in Bosnia and Hercegovina and the Islamic communities in Serbia.
Relations between the Church and state is developing with signs of good will and cooperation in terms of the separation of Church and state. Of particular importance is the support from the Committee for cooperation between churches and religious institutions at the Ministry of Justice towards both the Serbian Orthodox Church and all other traditional churches and religious institutions. The Assembly awaits this body be returned the status of Ministry of religious affairs. It was noted that the religious service in the Serbian Army, as well as the armed forces in Bosnia and Hercegovina, is on the rise.
There are, unfortunately, problems and unresolved issues. Therefore, the Assembly expected that the process of restitution of unjustly confiscated church property in Serbia to be accelerated and fully completed. The Assembly once again calls on the competent authorities to return to the Church parish books of records confiscated in 1946, allegedly for the reason of copying them. Similarly, the Assembly, for the umpteenth time, reiterates its position that the remains of the Serbian and world giant, Nikola Tesla, you do not deserve to be a museum piece but that they be decently buried in a suitable place near the Temple of Saint Sava, as Vuk and Dositej are buried in front of the Cathedral church in Belgrade.