Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate – June 2017
The public communique of the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church from their regular meeting held at the Patriarchate of Pec monastery and Belgrade May 14-24, 2017
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 at the Serbian Patriarchate in Belgrade, under the presidency of His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irinej. Participating in the Assembly were all diocesan hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church with the exception of Bishop Lukijan of Osijek and Baranja, who for health reasons was unable to attend.
At the beginning of the first assembly meeting the Patriarch, as president of the Assembly, in his introductory remarks to the assembly hierarchs, pointed to the vital issues of the church life today, during the great and existential challenges, on the one hand, and the great opportunites for mission of the Church and a spiritual renewal of the people on the other hand. The most important decision of the Assembly is the decision of establishing new feast days in the calendar of the Serbian Orthodox Church, and the Orthodox Church in general. Namely, the Assembly unanimously decided to canonize, or to add to the eternal Assembly of Saints:
1. Patriarch of Pec Pajsije Janjevac, to be commemorated 2/15 October;
2. Archimandrite Stefan Jovanovic, with the title the Venerable Stefan of Tronosa, to be commemorated 4/17 September;
3. Metropolitan Vikentije (Krdzic) of Skoplje and Heguman Vladimir (Protic) as hieromartyrs who suffered as martyrs under the Bulgarian occupation in Surudulica, to be commemorated 16/25 May;
4. those brutally killed in Piva as martyrs, whose annual commemoration will be 25 May/7 June, and those of Velicka and Gornja Polimska, also as martyrs, who will be commemorated 15/28 July, and
5. Monk Jakov (worldy name: Dr. Radoje Arsovic), with the title the Venerable Jakov the New of Tuman, to be commemorated 8/21 August.
The assembly accepted the report on the work of the Crete Council, the Great and Holy Council, held in June of last year.
Also, the assembly sent a letter of support and prayerful solidarity to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia in light of the discrimination and deprivation of rights facing the hierarchs, clergy, monastics and the faithful of the largest and only canonical Church in Ukraine, the autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church, a part of the Russian Orthodox Church.
As in previous years, the Assembly dedicated due attention to the church education and education. Desisions were rendered with the aim of improving the spiritual and material conditions of the life and work in Seminaries, particularly the School of Theology of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Libertyville, near Chicago.
The general conditions in the dioceses of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Western Europe, America and Australia were analyzed. In that context the decision was made to move the see of the Diocese of Eastern America from Warren (New Jersey) to Park Hills (Yonkers, New York).
The decision was made to establish a Department of the Holy Synod for the concern of the sanctity of marriage and the family, a Department for bioethics and a Department for monitoring the dvisive activities of heretical organizations, sects and non-canonical groups.
The Assembly supports the constructionof a Memorial center at Staro Sajmiste as a lasting memorial-landmark to Serbian victims in the 20th century, as well as Jews, Roma and other nationalities who shared with Serbs the bitter fate in that tragic century. The Assembly addressed the issue of church legal (canonical) status of Orthodox military preists in the Serbian Army.
The Diocese of Ras and Prizren was granted the right to establish administrative headquarters for practical reasons in Ras (Novi Pazar), in addition to its historical see in Prizren.
As before, the assembly deems that the earthly remains of the Serbian and world great Nikola Tesla not be a museum exhibit – which represents a unique precedent and universal dishonor – but in a tomb, at the St. Sava Temple Church on Vracar or, alternatively, on the plateau in front of it.
With thanksgiving to God, prayerful fear and respect, the report was heard of the recent finding of the relics of St. Bishop Mardarije (Uskokovic) of Libertyville in a state of complete preservation and incorruption, which is a sign that the Lord glorified him in an extraordinary manner. Regarding this, the motion was accepted that on July 14 and 15 of this year in Libertyville the 100th anniversary of his arrival to America be formally commemorated.
The report on the renovation of the St. Sava Cathedral in New York was accepted with satisfication. The assembly concluded that the clergy and faithful of the Serbian Orthodox Church during the period of time of the given reports invested much effort in collecting charitable supplies for the easing of the burdens of the suffering people. The assembly listened intently to many important reports, in the first place the report of the Holy Synod of its work, with special stress on the successful work of the Museum and the Archives of the Serbian Orthodox Church, as well as the Patriarchate Library. Reports from the Commision for revising the Constitution of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Patriarchate Administrative Board, the charitable organization Covekoljublje, the pilgrimage agency Dobrocinstvo and othe church bodies and organizations.
The Assembly also addressed the issue of non-canonical and church-destructive actions of the schismatic groups known as the Artemites, of the once known Mr. Marko Radosavljevic, the formal leader of the group. For this reason the Assembly sent a letter and a special address to the faithful people in which they call the faithful to spiritual altertness, soberness, discernment and sincere, evangelical faithfulness and zeal, contrary to the schismatic, sectarian „zeal not according to reason“, calling the schismatics to repentance, the only salvific way, and a return beneath the wings of the Mother Church. Additionally, it was decided to permanently exclude from the church community Goran Mirkovic, the so-called horepiskop of Hvosno and Barajevo, who in fact is the ousted hieromonk Naum, and this exclusion or excommunication ceases to be valid in the event he sincerely repents.
The Assembly concluded, with great sadness, that the Romanian Orthodox Church not only continues with its anti-canonical intrusions in the jurisdiction of the Serbian Orthodox Church but has intensified them and spread them throughout the Serbian canonical territory. Inasmuch as they do not cease with these actions of ethno-phyleticism and lacking in brotherly love in the near future, the Holy Synod will, with the permission given at this Assembly, be forced to take the only possible step – to cease all liturgical and canonical commuion with this Church until they return „their knowledge of the law“.
The assembly addressed a superfluous and non-sensical problem. It is about an interference of a group of teachers and assistants at the Orthodox Theological Faculty in Belgrade who, in a public dispute about Darwin’s theory of evolution, „dogmatized“ in a more-or-less atheistic sense, which in turn was proclaimed in the media as an acceptance for the support of darwinism in its worst form and for a direct contestation of the divinely revealed truths of God as the Creator of the world and the Biblical creation story. The signors of the text addressed the Assembly with a confession of the authentic Christian faith in God the Creator (the healthy and true creatianism). The Assembly accepted it, noting that that entire dispute, regardless of their intentions or idea, was not neccessary.
The Assembly awarded Serbian Patriarch Irinej with the Order of St. Jovan Vladimir, and Bishop Lavrentije, on the occasion of his 50th annivesary as hierarch, with the Order of St. Sava in the first degree. Nearly all the vacant dioceses of the Serbian Orthodox Church were filled. Elected as Metropolitan of Dabro-bosna is the current Bishop of Zvornik-Tuzla, His Grace Hrizostom; elected as Bishop of Zvornik-Tuzla is the current Bishop of Dalmatia, His Grace Fotije, while Bishop of Dalmatia will be Archimandrite Nikodim (Kosovic), the current Heguman of Monastery Krka; elected Bishop of Milesevo is the current Bishop of Bihac-Petrovac, His Grace Atanasije; elected Bishop of Bihac-Petrovac is the current Bishop of Frankfurt and all Germany, His Grace Sergije; elected Bishop of Nis is the current Vicar Bishop of Toplica, His Grace Artemije, while administrator of the Diocese of Frankfurt and all Germany will be His Grace Andrej, Bishop of Austria-Switzerland.
In the Holy Synod the mandate has ceased of Bishop Irinej of Backa and Bishop Teodosije of Ras-Prizren, who remain as alternative members, while newly elected members of the Holy Synod are, per the recommendation of the Serbian Patriarch Irinej, Metropolitan Porfirije of Zagreb-Ljubljana and Bishop Milutin of Valjevo.
Submitted by Bishop Irinej of Backa,
Spokesman for the Serbian Orthodox Church