Monday, January 10, 2011

Orthodox Bishop Artemije to the Holy Synod...

From here.

The retired Bishop of Ras-Prizren
September 13th, 2010
Shishatovac Monastery


Surprised, shocked and deeply wounded by its contents, and the slanders and threats contained in the latest Act of the Holy Archieratical Synod, No. 924, dated August 26th 2010, we are compelled to answer it, according to our duty and our sense of conscience.

For the last few years, even though We expressed our disagreement, We have been tolerant of and accepting of many of your non-canonical and anti-constitutional decisions and deeds. The reason for that was that We were convinced then that, both for the Church and the people, instead of spreading and hardening the conflict within the Church, it was better that We endure your aggression, initially, with small acts but over time the aggression has grown bigger and harder, against the archieratical right and the authority of the Diocese of Ras-Prizren.

Must we remind you of the issue of Our lawsuit filed in Strasbourg, concerning the damage inflicted during the events of March 17th 2004, and its forced withdrawal, the issue of the Memorandum (March 2005), the reception of the “reconstructed” edifices in 2008 and 2009, the question of Visoki Decani Monastery and the schism created by its administration, the issue of Our right to judge and promote our clerics… In the end, albeit not agreeing with it, We accepted the anti-canonical and non-constitutional extortion of Our Diocese from Us and our expulsion from Kosovo and Metohija.

We acted in such a manner in order to maintain peace, concord and unity within the Serbian Orthodox Church. We hoped for peace and harmony. Did Our tolerance towards you bring peace to the Church? No! Only chaos has been created. By your actions, only irreparable damage was brought to the Diocese of Ras-Prizren. You have chased away its monastics, you have exposed them to harassment, blackmail, threats of legal action both ecclesiastical and secular. You contest their right to a filial relationship with Us, their spiritual father.

You cooperate with illegitimate Albanian institutions, hence assisting the creation of a secessionist entity within the Serb Kosovo and Metohija. You have already received praise from our adversaries. 

Liturgical order has been destroyed and chaos has been introduced to the Diocese of Ras-Prizren.

Besides all this, you are pressurising the whole Serbian Orthodox Church, abandoning Sacred Canons and the Holy Tradition, toward the path of abominable Union with Papacy. What does the speech of His Holiness in Vienna these days look like?

We have no more justifiable reasons to accept things with which We do not agree. We have no such right, and the question is if We have ever really had it!? As Ras-Prizren Bishop, we must not, we do not want to, and we cannot cooperate in the dismantling of St. Sava’s Serbian Orthodox Church.

Fathers and brethren, with this address to You as members of the Holy Archieratical Synod, let it be considered and known that we address at the same time to the Holy Archieratical Assembly of Hierarchs, to the Primates of all the Local Orthodox Churches and their Hierarchs, to the Priests and Monastics, as well as to all the Orthodox people around the globe. The basic reason for that is the latest act of Yours, which We mentioned in the beginning.

You have intended to impose on Us a new punishment, showing thus that you are still not satisfied by all those declared and implemented punishments, all of them without real canonical background.

All are aware, even outside of the boundaries of Ras-Prizren Diocese, and even outside Serbia, what really hides in the deeper background regarding the motive as to why You removed us from Kosovo and Metohija, even forbidding Us to dwell there in any of the monasteries that We had built or reconstructed there, at least in a retired status, which you non-canonically and anti-constitutionally imposed on Us.

Such intentions of Yours towards Us suffice to show to many  who needs to fear whom and why, as well which side is canonically rightful and which one is not.

It is also publicly known that We, in order to keep the peace in the Serbian Orthodox Church, complied with Your decisions, emphasizing every time that Our compliance did not mean that We also agreed  with those decisions. We could not agree that in a completely oppressive way, You extort from Us the Diocese of Ras-Prizren, entrusted to Us by God, and that You give it over to the hands of the second and the third bridegroom, albeit We are still alive. Truly wise Church Fathers called such actions “fornication” from which one can expect only foul offspring. Who can be proud today of the offspring that multiplied like weeds from such an unholy union? Only the adversaries, and they are many, not only from the outside, but from the inside as well! But, let the initiators and perpetrators of the infernal plan of Our deprivation of the Diocese, and our removal from Kosovo and Metohija think about it more!

The malice continued to spread. In this chain non-canonical actions from Your side, not only that you deprived us of our Bishop’s throne, and expelled Us from Kosovo and Metohija, but you have scattered our flock, too. And the flock knows it shepherd. The flock is sensible and thus it has self-determined to follow its shepherd. It will not accept the imposed foreign shepherd who wants to keep the flock in fear, under threat and punishment.

Do We have the right to renounce Our own flock, which does not renounce Us? What answer shall We give to Christ the Saviour, Who invested Us to be the shepherd of the reasonable flock, and to Whom we gave an oath of faithfulness for life?

Bearing all this in mind, my dear Brethren in Christ, we declare and penitently acknowledge that We did not do well when we emphasized and declared that We “comply with your decisions, but We do not agree with them”. Our “compliance” towards You obviously did not bring peace to the Serbian Orthodox Church, which was so much desired from Our side. On the contrary!

After all that, we are indebted to officially withdraw all Our statements on the “compliance” given so far, for We see that We will have to give answers to  the Lord for them. In the other world We will not answer to You, but to Him Who taught us through all the Apostles, Martyrs, Teachers and the Saints of His Church, that one should pay obedience to God more than to men.

We have the feeling that by complying with Your decisions, preceded by specific blackmails, threats and horrible pressures, of which every successive one was harsher than the previous one, We have acted mistakenly against Our Diocese, which goes by the name of Ras-Prizren; against that entrusted to Us namely the spiritual flock, that is against Our life-long duty toward the Most High Lord to stand steadfastly on guard spiritually, in accordance to the church canons and the Archieratical oath We gave.

Hence, We rightfully demand that You give Us back the extorted seat of the Ras-Prizren Bishop, by which act You would bring back the canonical order and peace to the Serbian Orthodox Church.

On the contrary, We publicly declare by this that from now in future We deliver Us from the sense of guilt for the previous “compliances”, for We are, in the Church and toward God a life-long canonical Hierarch of the Ras-Prizren Diocese. In that sense, We will not submit to any future non-canonical decisions of Yours, bearing in mind that all the previous ones were brought about by the diktat of  non-ecclesiastical, political and inimical factors.

Undeniable testimonies and events which speak on behalf of what We say are well known to everybody, and the impartial historians will give their final judgment on that, and even before them it will be done by the general awareness of the rightful God’s people.

If there is awareness among you on how none of you  under any circumstances, would allow  someone to extort or endanger in any way  the Diocese entrusted to you by God, if that awareness  prevails in you, my brother Hierarchs, and that the other Hierarchs violate your rights which have been strictly guaranteed by the church canons, then you would understand Us and the justification for everything We have said here. If there is no such awareness, then there will only be hypocritical talk of love among us, and the efforts in reestablishing peace and order in our Church will be in vain.

In such a context, if, God forbid, a SCHISM happens in the Serbian Orthodox Church, be ready to receive and suffer the responsibility for it, and all the consequences which will come out of it.

No one either talks of schism or endeavours to create it except the members of the Holy Archieratical Synod, since February 11th, 2010 until today. The people see and recognize that truth. It cannot be buried or hushed up, nor can the responsibility be shifted to someone else.

We, in the virtue of canonical Bishop of Ras-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija, remain steadfastly loyal to the Hierarch of us all – Lord Jesus Christ, Who summoned Us to a life-long Archieratical service in the canonical unity with all the Hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Sincerely devoted in the Lord to the Holy Archieratical Synod,

Bishop of Ras-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija


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