Тhe new Diocesan Internet Web-site is available at: http://www.eparhija-prizren.com


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Communique of the Serbian Orthodox Church (Feb 27, 2010)

A great deal of our media published these days news that no more no less than seventeen bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church asked for calling of a extraordinary Assembly so as to discuss there about events in the Diocese of Raska and Prizren.

Actually it is a rough misinformation - one of many within this theme - which was launched by someone unkown, and everyone else started repeating it, uncritically, not even checking the news at the Information Service of the Serbian Orthodox Church or the services of the Holy Synod. No bishop has formally asked for the convocation of extraordinary Assembly, but many, virtually all, were interested - and they are still interested in - for the development of the situation because everyone, without exception, in the first place care about peace and love , good order and unity in our Church.
The whole thing has been brought to the absurd. How and why the Assembly would discuss it before the Synod, upon the church Constitution as the first instance for resolving differences and problems of this kind, generally examine available facts and supplement them by new facts and, taking its position, present it to the Assembly? Hence,  the Assembly, in any way, is the final instance, as His Grace Bishop Artemije  rightly stressed in his statement yesterday for the KIM Radio. Does the Supreme Court, for example, engage in some court case immediately or only after it passes through all the previous court instances?

Disagreements are nothing new in the course of the history of the Church, as our local St. Sava's , as well as the Ecumenical. They are overcome conciliar and synodical, and in obedience towards the Church when it says its last word. Who chooses disobedience and self-will, he excommmunicates himself from the church community, but also from the spiritual union with His Grace Bishop Artemije. Disinformation and insinuations, no matter from who originate, cause only general damages.

February 27, 2010
in Novi Sad
Bishop of Backa
Dr. Irinej

Bishop Grigorije: Stop hurting Bishop Artemije’s case

Gračanica Monastery was visited today by Bishop Grigorije, a member of the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church, and the Minister for Religions in the Serbian Government, Bogoljub Šijaković. In a statement for KIM Radio Bishop Gregory said he is happy to be in Gračanica and by the fact he was able to talk with the bishops about everything.

"I am happy to be in Gračanica, I am happy that the bishop received us so we could talk together about everything, but I am happiest of all because of what Bishop Artemije said. I believe that this impression will be shared by many of the faithful, by Orthodox Serbs across the globe, especially our Patriarch for whom it is very difficult that his patriarchal service began with such a difficult problem. You heard what Bishop Artemije said today: he called for peace and respect for the decisions of the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church. It would be good if all those who love him stopped hurting his case in the way they have been doing but instead helped him by peacefully and serenely praying to God for him and for our church," said Bishop Grigorije.

When asked whether he came as an intermediary or to provide support to Bishop Artemije, Bishop Grigorije said that he had primarily came to visit Kosovo and Metohija. "I came here to visit Bishop Artemije and Bishop Atanasije and Bishop Teodosije but primarily Kosovo and Metohija. Because, as our children sing, Kosovo is the heart of Serbia. If we are Serbs, then Kosovo is our heart, too," said Bishop Grigorije.

Religions minister Bogoljub Šijaković said that he feels at home in Gračanica and that he will always here. "Kosovo is not only a symbolic part of our being but also a concrete part of the territory of the Republic of Serbia, and it will guard that integrity and never neglect it no matter what happens and no matter who makes whatever decisions. Whatever the solutions are, temporary or permanent, Kosovo is within us and it cannot go anywhere without us. As for our Church in Kosovo and Metohija, we all know how important and significant it is," said Šijaković.

Source: Radio KIM, February 26, 2010

In a statement for the daily "Politika," Bishop Grigorije of Zahumlje and Herzegovina, who visited Gračanica yesterday together with the religions minister Bogoljub Šijaković, explained that he had met with Bishop Artemije and learned from him that the Bishop of Raška and Prizren does not support the public turmoil that has ensued after the decision to temporarily relieve him of his duties.

“I spoke with the Bishop for two or three hours and told him that there was a lot of misinformation, a lot of wrong, false information in the media. He explained that he does not want to participate in this and that he does not want any sort of unrest. I also made the bishop aware that people who are supposedly protecting him and his interests are creating the impression in public that he was being kept prisoner here in the monastery. Bishop Artemije explained to me that his life in the monastery is quite normal, and that he respects the decisions of the Assembly and the Synod, after which I suggested to him that he say this publicly and that we send a single message of peace together, which he accepted,” said Bishop Grigorije.


Bishop Grigorije, who visited Gračanica yesterday to convey the full support of the Church for the work of the administrator, Bishop Atanasije, told "Blic" that Bishop Artemije has demonstrated that for him the unity of the Church is beyond question.

"This is great victory for our Patriarch Irinej, who has shown determination to solve problems but who made a great sacrifice, too. Now is the time for all of us to calm down during the fast, to guard the unity of our Church as St. Sava left it for us," said Bishop Grigorije.

He added that many falsehoods were made public, and that the subtlest is the one about the request of 17 bishops for an extraordinary meeting of the Holy Assembly.

"None of them signed, while four came to discuss matters and returned to their dioceses with the knowledge that the Patriarch and the Synod acted conscientiously and responsibly," said Bishop Grigorije.

Bishop Atanasije in Kosovo Pomoravlje (Saturday, Feb 27, 2010)

The Administrator of the Raška and Prizren, Kosovo and Metohija Diocese Bishop Atanasije has visited today the clergy and the faithful in Kosovo Pomoravlje (Eastern part of Kosovo Province). Bishop Atanasije served the Holy Liturgy with eight parish priests and three deacons of the Gnjilane region at St. Elias church in the village of Cernica. In the village he was given a warm welcome by protoprebyter Fr. Dragan Kojić.

After the reading of the Holy Gospel Bishop Atanasije gave a sermon on the Gospel as Word and Truth of the Eternal Life explaining that the Holy Gospel is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

Despite the difficult war and post-war years the village of Cernica in which 40 Serbian families live is demonstrating a true Serbian and Kosovo spirit based on faith and hope in the Lord. The people of Cernica offered their Bishop a warm hospitality, particularly the children whom the Bishop visited in their school, talked to them, made jokes and taught them.

At the village school Bishop Atanasije held an unforgettable lesson of history, geography, religion and the Christian ethics at the same time. In his previous visits to Kosovo Bishop Atanasije has been a frequent visitor of Cernica which became a symbol of Serbian suffering in Kosovo and Metohija.


Cernica and Binač

After his visit to Cernica Bishop Atanasije visited the church of the Holy Trinity in Parteš and the church of St. Nicholas in Binač. In Binač the people with their children and their parish priest warmly Zvonko Kostić warmly welcomed their Bishop. Their parish church has recently been reconstructed thanks to the donations of the parishioners despite their poverty and hard life. The Bishop with his priests also visited the destroyed monastery near Binač which was torched in 1999. and which will soon, God willing, be reconstructed.

Visit to Parteš

At the end of his pastoral visit to Kosovo Pomoravlje, Bishop Atanasije visited the church of St. Parasceva in Vitina.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Bishop Atanasije visits Gnjilane region

The administrator of the Diocese of Raška-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija, Bishop Atanasije, today (Feb 26) visited the Gnjilane administrative district. In front of the church of St. Nicholas in Gnjilane Bishop Atanasije was met by protopresbyter Dragan Kojić, the bishop’s deputy for Gnjilane, and protopresbyter Zoran Kovačević, the elder of the Gnjilane church. Bishop Atanasije took part in the Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts served by presbyter Dragiša Jerinić. About 50 faithful took part in the Liturgy and several children took communion.


After Liturgy Bishop Atanasije met in the parish home with the priests of the Gnjilane region to discuss problems they faced in their parishes, as well as current problems. After a shared lunch, Bishop Atanasije informed the priests that tomorrow (Saturday, February 27) he would serve Hierarchal Liturgy in the long-suffering village of Cernica, and then visit Parteš, Žitinje and the destroyed monastery of Binač.

Radio Television Serbia: Bishop Artemije accepts the decisions of the Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church

I am willing to accept the decisions of the Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church, although I do not agree with them, said Bishop Artemije in his first public address since his dismissal from the administration of the diocese. Bishop Artemije called for unity in the Church.

Bishop Artemije said in Gračanica that he accepts the decisions of the Synod of the SOC, although he does not agree with them, in the expectation that the Assembly of the SOC will adopt the most suitable solution with respect to his dismissal and possible abuses in the operation of the Diocese of Raška and Prizren.

"What I maintain is the position that is most important to preserve the unity of the SOC. I have told the Synod that I can never accept nor can anyone force me to tear the chiton of the Church of Saint Sava, i.e. to create a schism," said Bishop Artemije in his first public address after being dismissed from the administration of the Diocese by the Synod of the SOC on February 13.

This message should also serve as a guide to all those who, using our name and our present position, are creating the impression that Bishop Artemije and some of his supporters are creating a schism in the SOC, said the Bishop.

Bishop Grigorije and Minister for Religions in the Serbian Government Bogoljub Šijaković visited Gračanica Monastery today.

The dismissed Bishop Artemije said that “a great deal of commotion” had been raised in the media about his dismissal. He called on all those who respect and love him, and who, he said, represent no small number, to come to terms with the fact that he accepts and remains in obedience to the SOC and to demonstrate solidarity and love toward him and toward the SOC.

"I think that this problem that has emerged will be legitimately resolved at the meeting of the Assembly of Bishops; until then, things should be examined in peace, without commotion. Government bodies are also involved, let them examine all the facts, and then the Assembly will find the most suitable solution on the basis of its knowledge, the canons and the Constitution of the SOC," said Bishop Artemije.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Families of Herzegovina for the Families of Kosovo Campaign

Dear brothers and sisters, a happy Great Fast to you and that the Holy Resurrection of Christ may bring us joy. Our God-protected Diocese is neither large nor rich in material goods but it is very rich in spiritual gifts, a great history, and especially in martyrs, saints, poets and heroes. Herzegovina and Herzegovians not need explanations of what Kosovo and Metohija is and where it is.

Recently, upon the request of His Beatitude the Serbian Patriarch Irinej and the Holy Synod of Bishops, our Bishop Atanasije has assumed a very difficult church duty - to lend courage and comfort to the Orthodox people in Kosovo and Metohija, just as he lent courage and comfort to us during the terrible times of the past war. We remember well that he did not give us strength only with holy services and divinely inspired homilies; he also fed us with bread and oil, without even mentioning the care he devoted to the wounded and to war orphans. Here is an opportunity for us to pay him back for his selfless and effective love, not by giving him personally a gift but by giving a gift to those poor people in Kosovo and Metohija for whom he is now responsible by the blessing of the Church. Therefore, let everyone, in accordance with his or her ability and goodwill gather and bring to their local parish home hygienic materials, oil, cans, pasta, school supplies, etc.

The campaign to collect aid for the people of Kosovo and Metohija called Families of Herzegovina for Families of Kosovo will run from February 26 to March 14, 2010.

We need all Church parishes, within the scope of their components, to organize the collection within the aforementioned period. Aid packages should include packaged foods with a longer shelf life, which are not in breakable containers (oil, pasta, sugar, fruit juices in cartons, canned food, rice, beans, etc.), and basic hygiene items (properly packaged and separated from food items). Packages should be properly packaged for transport, and the first and last names of the sender as well as the content of the package should be written on them for easier handling. For additional information please contact your local priest.

On behalf of the impoverished Orthodox population of Kosovo and Metohija, we sincerely thank you.

May the blessing of the Lord be with you all.

Bishop of Zahumlje and Herzegovina


Bishop Atanasije and Bishop Artemije visit Gračanica abbess in hospital in Laplje Selo

Today Bishop Atanasije, the Administrator of the Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija, together with Bishop Artemije and two presbyters visited the ailing abbess of Gračanica Monastery, Mother Efrosinija, in hospital in Laplje Selo near Gračanica. Mother Efrosinija welcomed the bishops with great gratitude and thanked them for their visit.

Bishop Atanasije visits soup kitchens in Vitina and Novo Brdo regions, donation to Health Center in Gračanica

Today (February 23) the Administrator of the Diocese of Raška-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija, His Grace Bishop Atanasije visited the soup kitchens in the Vitina and Novo Brdo regions accompanied by presbytera Svetlana Stević, the president of the NGO “Majka devet Jugovića” (Mother of the Nine Jugoviches), who runs the soup kitchens.

The purpose of Bishop Atanasije’s visit was to learn about the conditions and operation of the soup kitchens, as well as the intent to open yet another (fifth) kitchen, which would add another 250 socially most vulnerable Serbs from the territory of the municipality of Gnjilane to the current number of people served (1200). The villages that will be included in this project include Stanišor, Straža, Kusce, Koretište, Šilovo and Gnjilane itself.



Namely, there are plans to expand the capacity of the existing kitchen in Prekovac, which is the closest of the soup kitchens to the aforementioned Serbian villages, which would reduce the cost of transporting food to the people served, as well as the costs of constructing or adapting another building.

Soon, God willing, a sixth soup kitchen will begin working in Metohija for locations and villages where expelled Serbs have returned to their destroyed homes.

Bishop Atanasije’s intention is to compensate the monies that were stolen from the fund for the soup kitchens by Simeon Vilovski and the associates of Bishop Artemije as soon as possible and thus further justify the confidence of donors in the campaign "One SMS for one meal". The continuation of this humanitarian campaign will make it possible for the soup kitchens to continue their work to help the most vulnerable Serbs in the Province survive.


After returning from Novo Brdo Bishop Atanasije, together with Archimandrite Elie Ragot of the Monastère de la Transfiguration, Terrasson, France, and two other French Orthodox persons delivered a dental x-ray machine to the Gračanica Health Center. The apparatus was donated by Dr. Jérôme Galoup from France.


The Bishop and the guests from France were welcomed by Rada Trajković, the director of the Health Center, and physicians Nebojsa Labović, Bogoljub Ivić, Zoran Đorđević, Dragan Todorović and Desa Lukić. Also joining the event was the head of the French mission in Priština, who spent a short period speaking with Bishop Atanasije and Fr. Elie.

Our Orthodox brothers from France extended their visit to Kosovo and Metohija with a visit to Visoki Dečani Monastery, where they are expected to serve the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Radio Television Serbia – Warrant issued for hegumen Simeon (Vilovski), February 23, 2010

By order of the Serbian High Court an international warrant has been issued for the arrest of protosingel Simeon Vilovski. A decision has also been adopted to conduct an investigation against Vilovski.

An international warrant was issued for protosingel Simeon Vilovski because he is inaccessible to the judicial authorities of Serbia, said the spokeswoman for the High Court in Belgrade, Dušica Ristić.

Ristić told Beta news agency that the warrant issued by order of the High Court and that a decision was adopted to conduct an investigation against Vilovski and remand him into custody.

Two days ago an investigation was launched against the director of the Rade Neimar Diocesan Center Predrag Subotički and he is presently in custody.

Subotički and Vilovski are suspected of having illegally appropriated 350,000 euros intended for the reconstruction of monasteries.

Information Service of the Serbian Orthodox Church regarding Antonije (Davidović)

Information Service of the Serbian Orthodox Church regarding Antonije (Davidović)

Regarding the announcement that monk Antonije, a brother of the Crna Reka Monastery in the Diocese of Raška and Prizren, will be holding a press conference tomorrow, February 24, 2010 in the Media Center in Belgrade regarding what the Media Center says in its announcement "events in the Diocese of Raška and Prizren that are causing confusion among the public”, we consider it our duty to explain who monk Antonije is and what his intentions and of those who stand behind him are.

Monk Antonije Davidović, former "deputy abbot" of Crna Reka Monastery, is already known to the public for his involvement in a protest that prevented the Anglican celebration of Christmas on December 24, 2002 in the Patriarchate. On that occasion, monk Antonije and the gathered pseudo-zealots verbally assaulted Serbian Patriarch Pavle of blessed memory and Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Coastlands in the crudest fashion. Only a month later, on January 29, 2003, monk Antonije and a group of some thirty like-minded persons organized a new protest in front of the Patriarchate building. On that occasion, Patriarch Pavle of blessed memory, who personally went down among the gathered people, warned monk Antonije that "his zeal is not reasonable" and that "he can address (the Church) only through his competent Bishop." Antonije’s reply to the Patriarch: "I do not need anyone's blessing to defend the Church from destruction and Orthodoxy from heresy," warning Patriarch Pavle "not to go to heretics because with these visits he has trampled on all the canons." (These actions themselves attest to the absence of any awareness of the church, and especially monastic conscience and spirituality in this man.)

Because of his disrespectful conduct, insulting the Serbian Patriarch and creating confusion in the Church, the Holy Synod of Bishops in April 2003 (act no. 737) and subsequently the Holy Assembly of Bishops on May 21, 2003 (decision AS no. 62/entry 122), kindly requested His Grace Bishop Artemije of Raška and Prizren “to bring the intractable monk Antonije Davidović, a brother of Crna Reka Monastery, before an ecclesiastical court, to remove his monastic rank and return him to the ranks of the laity”. The Holy Assembly of Bishops kindly requested Bishop Artemije “to forbid the monks of his Diocese of jurisdiction any activities outside of their home Diocese without the approval of the competent bishops”.

This decision of the Holy Assembly of Bishops, which was signed by all the bishops, as well as many other decisions related to the uncanonical and anti-church behavior of individuals from the Diocese of Raška and Prizren was never carried out by Bishop Artemije, although it was repeated during the meeting of the Assembly in 2006 and 2009 along with decisions on the initiation of church proceedings against protosingel Simeon Vilovski and dissolution of the Rade Neimar company. Although monk Antonije has, in the meanwhile, "withdrawn" to a hermitage near Crna Reka, he remains active in his destructive actions against the Church. During the recent tragicomic protests in front of the Patriarchate on February 13 this year, and then in front of Gračanica Monastery, monk Antonije could be seen together with the other monks of Crna Reka and their hegumen Nikolaj.

Yesterday, February 22, 2010, monk Antonije went public with an interview for the daily newspaper “Pravda” in which he presented a whole series of impudent lies and slanders against the Holy Synod of Bishops and the Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church regarding the current situation in the Diocese of Raška and Prizren, and announcing a press conference for February 24 in the Media Center in Belgrade (of course, contrary to church order, without the knowledge and approval of the Patriarch as the competent Archbishop of Belgrade-Karlovci).

He is, therefore, a man who lives outside every church and monastic order, in disobedience of the Church and his competent Bishop, who is now Bishop Atanasije. (We doubt that he would listen to Bishop Artemije, either, to whom he does not relate as his spiritual father but as a guru, if Bishop Artemije told him not to do what he is doing.) His past misdeeds undermine the reputation of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Unfortunately, Bishop Artemije protected monk Antonije for years, just as he persistently protected protosingel Simeon and others, who have inflicted and are inflicting enormous material and moral damage both to him personally and to the Diocese of Raška and Prizren and to our entire Holy Church.

We wish to inform all media employees that all statements, written or oral, given by monk Antonije Davidović are the personal opinion of an irresponsible man of completely unbalanced behavior, and cannot be considered by the serious media to be relevant statements regarding the situation in the Diocese of Raška and Prizren or the Serbian Orthodox Church in general.

Because of his damaging activities to date monk Antonije will in the very near future bear canonical consequences because the decisions of the Holy Assembly of Bishops adopted long ago in relation to him will be carried out.

Information Service of the Serbian Orthodox Church

Submitted by Bishop Irinej of Bačka (by his own hand)

Bishop Atanasije visits parishes in Brezovica and Lipljan

During the last two days, His Grace Bishop Atanasije, the Administrator of the Diocese of Raška and Prizren, visited the parishes in Brezovica and in Lipljan in order to learn about the difficulties faced by the clergy and the faithful.


Visit to Lipljan                                 Visit to Brezovica

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bishops Atanasije, Joanikije and Teodosije take part in celebration of the Sunday of Orthodoxy in Prizren

Today on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, the Administrator of the Diocese of Raška-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija, His Grace Bishop Atanasije, served the Holy Hierarchal Liturgy in the Orthodox Cathedral of St.. George in Prizren with the concelebration of Their Graces Bishop Joanikije of Budimlje and Nikšić, Bishop Teodosije of Lipljan and twelve priests including Protopresbyter Stavrophor Milutin Timotijević (Rector of the Prizren Seminary), Protopresbyter Radomir Nikčević from the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Coastlands, Archimandrite Sava, the hegumen of Tvrdoš Monastery, and ten priests from the Diocese of Raška and Prizren. Before the beginning of Hierarchal Liturgy, Bishop Atanasije reconsecrated the restored church.About 250 faithful from Prizren and various parts of Kosovo and Metohija (especially Velika Hoča, Brezovica and the north of Kosovo) eucharistically participated in the Divine Liturgy, including some thirty children who took part in the traditional procession with icons, which is performed on the Sunday of Orthodoxy. Advisor to the President of the Republic of Serbia Mr. Mlađan Đorđević (who is a native of the Prizren region) also attended the Divine Liturgy and took part in the procession.
This is the first Hierarchal Liturgy to be served in the newly restored Orthodox Cathedral in Prizren, which, like other Serbian Orthodox holy shrines in Prizren, was torched during the March pogrom in 2004. In addition to St. George Cathedral, the Bishop’s Residence in Prizren has also been rebuilt as part of the reconstruction process, where the see of the Diocese of Raška and Prizren will soon be returning in accordance with the decision of the Holy Assembly of Bishops in May 2009. The Diocese of Prizren is one of the oldest in the Serbian Orthodox Church and the earliest preserved written records of the Diocese date back to the beginning of 11th century, even though there are traces of church life from earlier centuries. The second oldest Serbian diocese after Prizren is the Diocese of Sts. Peter and Paul (Petropavlovska) in Raška. In the year 1808 the Dioceses of Prizren and Ras merged to form the Diocese of Raška and Prizren.

In the city of Prizren, where 8,000 Serbs lived prior to the war in 1999, there are now only about 20 Serbs remaining, most of them elderly. The Diocese is confronted with the huge task of strengthening church life and presence in Prizren in order to encourage the return of refugees and to show that the Serbian Orthodox Church is not giving up her ancient church and historical see.

On the same day the Bishops visited Holy Archangels Monastery, where monastery administrator Fr. Benedikt welcomed them. They then visited the church of the Bogorodica Ljeviška (the Holy Virgin of Lyevish) and the newly rebuilt Prizren Seminary building (the Sima Igumanov Endowment).

Today's Holy Liturgy was also attended by the commander of German KFOR, General Manfred Hofmeyer, who accompanied the bishops during their visit to Holy Archangels Monastery.

His Grace Bishop Artemije served today in Gračanica Monastery.


In his homily Bishop Atanasije spoke about the multifold importance of the feast of “the Sunday of Orthodoxy, the Sunday of respect and veneration of the Holy Icon of God the Invisible, who became a visible man in the person of Jesus Christ of Nazareth . . . An icon is a window into heaven. It is not a mere photograph but an image of man transformed and perpetuated by the grace of God. It is a foretaste of the Kingdom of Heaven. A light shines from the icon, which emanates from the entire psycho-physical being of man." Remembering Patriarch Pavle of blessed repose, who spent 33 years on the throne of the Bishop of Raška and Prizren, Bishop Atanasije said, “We, too, will stay and survive if we adhere to the window to Heaven, the Icon of the Living Christ, the Original. He is the Archetype, the Prototype of man because God, when creating man, first saw Christ, who was yet to become a man.”

Later in his homily Bishop Atanasije spoke about the Liturgy, which “is not only a religious service and veneration . . . Heaven is here today and from here we cross into Heaven; the proof of that is that we take communion and participate, we eat and drink the body of the God-Man, which was mortal but became immortal. It is a miracle that God came into this world and it is why there is salvation in this world.

"No matter in what state the world is and we sinners in it, we must never lose hope. There is salvation because there is a Savior. Sometimes we experience a great fall but keep in mind that the longer the fall, the greater the hope of salvation. With God it’s never say never. Adhere to your faith. Faith is new hope and new energy, a new sense and connection with the living and true God. Faith never suffers defeat, and faith, my brothers, is also love. Faith is not hate, it is not revenge. I was happy this morning that the people here greeted us and that we see a different face than the one when this church was destroyed. Thank God, never allow hatred and revenge to enter your heart. Man is responsible for his Paradise and his hell and what a man brings into his soul will live there, not only here but also up above. Nor will God impose or take away from man. That is why is a man responsible being, for he is a free and God-like being. Freedom is the primary feature of his likeness to God.

"We are sinful but God came to save sinners, and not the ‘righteous’ like the Pharisees. Today we also have Pharisees, unreasonable people, people who cannot weight things, supposed zealots who want a monopoly on salvation and Orthodoxy. But they are malicious and they slander, and you know what recently happened. God is great and the Church is the Body of the God-Man. It is an organization of this world but it is also a God/manly organism. It has lungs, a heart, organs and those are the holy mysteries. The presence of the Holy Spirit makes the Church a Church, ensures that it survive and awaits the second coming of Christ. The main mystery of the Church is Holy Liturgy and our participation and communion. We are invited to the table the Emperor of Heaven and let us not seek superficial excuses. We should fast and go to confession but do not let anything stand in the way of that which is most important.”

Concluding his festal homily, Bishop Atanasije said, "May this Liturgy bring you closer to salvation and encouragement. Not to hatred and revenge, to exclusion and isolation, but to the expansion of your hearts and lungs. Love God and your neighbor, for He wishes the Peace of God and God’s grace (blagodat).”


After Holy Liturgy toys were distributed to the children and the faithful were served with refreshments. At that time Bishop Teodosije addressed them as follows:

"Much has been done to restore this church. There is still much that needs to be renewed. All the buildings in the Seminary complex need to be renewed and this will be a center where all Serbs will be able to gather. It will be both a spiritual and a cultural center where we can come together. Since this is the see of the Bishop of Raška and Prizren, the restoration and today's Liturgz are a call to all Serbs to return to Prizren. Throughout history Serbs have come and gone but there have always been those who have lived here and that is why life should continue here. Many have suffered here, but we know that after suffering comes the joy of Resurrection. Today is a new beginning and if God grants there will be regular services in this holy shrine.”


"This celebration today is an encouragement for all those Serbs who want to return and an indicator that life in Prizren is possible, that return is possible to this city, where Serbs, Albanians, Turks, Muslims and Bosniacs lived together for centuries. Today this will also help to make life and return possible. It is important for all Serbs to know that the Church has returned to Prizren and that it will provide strong support to them. As His Grace Bishop Atanasije said that faith means love, and love does not mean hatred and revenge, this church will be the place from which a message of peace and love will go out to all the citizens of Prizren.”

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Bishops Atanasije, Artemije and Teodosije serve in Priština and Gračanica on St. Theodore Saturday


Today on St. Theodore Saturday His Grace Bishop Atanasije, Administrator of the Diocese of Raška and Prizren, served in the newly restored church of St. Nicholas in Priština with the concelebration of a number of priests from the Diocese of Raška and Prizren and other Dioceses of the Serbian Orthodox Church, including the hegumen of Studenica Monastery, archimandrite Tihon; the hegumen of Tvrdoš Monastery, archimandrite Sava; deacon Radoš from the Diocese of Žiča and others. This is the first liturgy served in St. Nicholas Church since March 2004 when the church was torched.

About 250 faithful from Priština and other parts of the southern province attended the liturgy, most of them taking communion, including several Serbian children from Priština, who actively assisted during the Liturgy. Bishop Atanasije delivered a homily on the importance of the feast of St. Theodore, as well as on the celebration tomorrow of the feast of the Sunday of Orthodoxy. The celebration of this feast day will be held tomorrow in the Orthodox Cathedral of St.. George in Prizren with the concelebration of a number of bishops and priests.In his homily, Bishop Atanasije said, "We have gathered today to take communion in faith, peace and love, and above all in the Body and Blood of Theanthropos Jesus Christ. We need to take communion more often because we are sinful. The thief on the cross, with just one word spoken from the depths of the soul, said, "Remember me, o Lord, when you come into your Kingdom" and the Lord told him that on the same day he would be with Him in paradise, while another thief began to blaspheme Christ.As Father Justin of blessed memory used to say, it is our great joy that the thief entered heaven first. It means there is hope for us because God came into the world to save us and the world. God will not save us without our participation. We build heaven within ourselves with the help of God but unfortunately, God will not save us if we build a state of hell within ourselves. So do not be intimidated by people speaking of conspiracies, apocalypses, black and red internationales. You must adhere to God and His justice, and everything else will be added by God."After Holy Liturgy in St. Nicholas Church refreshments were served for all who attended. Bishop Atanasije told journalists who were present and filmed the Liturgy that he "would give a press statement only to the children" who gathered around him in the churchyard and he then told the children several stories. Liturgy was attended by the head of the Greek office in Priština, Mr. Demetrios Moishopoulos (the newly appointed Special EU advisor on matters of Serbian cultural heritage in Kosovo). Also present were representatives of the U.S. Office in Priština, which actively assisted the reconstruction of the church of St.. Nicholas, as well as representatives of the U.K. Office. The residents of Priština who were present asked the Bishop to appoint a parish priest in Priština.

After the liturgy in St. Nicholas Church, Bishop Atanasije, together with hegumen Sava of Tvrdoš Monastery and the other priests also visited the unfinished Christ the Savior Church in the center of Priština, where hymns in honor of Christ the Savior were sung.


Today in Gračanica Monastery His Grace Bishop Artemije served Holy Hierarchal Liturgy with the concelebration of Vicar Bishop Teodosije, seven parish priests, hieromonk Andrej (Sajc) and hierodeacon Damjan. The atmosphere was eucharistic and liturgical, Serbian and Orthodox.

During the Liturgy Bishop Artemije delivered a homily to the faithful on the meaning of the Great Fast and the importance of fasting in preparation for the holy mystery of Repentance and the Eucharist. During the Liturgy in the crowded church of Gračanica about 200 faithful took communion.In his address to the faithful Bishop Artemije said: "The Church has set aside seven weeks to prepare properly for our encounter with the Risen Lord, to cleanse our souls of every dirt and sin, to strive in that which is pleasing and loved by God and to avoid what is contrary to the law of God. The Holy Great Fast is compared in church hymns with the open sea and we pray that the Lord gives us the strength to sail across the open sea without becoming shipwrecked. On the open sea there are frequently tempests, storms and waves, and it is natural that we who are also on the open sea of the Great Fast have tempests, storms and trials. But with hope in the grace of God, with our effort and endeavor, we should strive to cross the open sea of the fast without shipwreck and to arrive in the peaceful harbor of the Resurrection of Christ."Thus today we have experienced double joy.
Bishops Artemije and Teodosije at the Holy Liturgy in Gracanica Monastery today

FONET News Agency - Albanians ambush local Serb, February 20, 2010

ISTOK -- Kosovo Serb Ljubiša Stepanović was assaulted early Saturday morning in the Kosovo village of Žać, near Istok, by a group of Albanians.

Stepanović was jumped by a group of four or five Albanians while on his way to buy bread in Osojane, according to return coordinator in the Serb municipality of Istok, Vesna Maliković. He was taken to the Kosovska Mitrovica hospital and the Kosovo police were informed of the attack.

Maliković said that the attackers waited for Stepanović hiding on the property of a Serb that visited several days ago with the intention of returning with his family. She said that the situation in Istok has drastically worsened over the last week, and that the attack has further upset Serbs living in the municipality.

“There are five homes almost complete for returning Serbs in Žać and it is obvious that someone does not like it,” Maliković said.

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RADIO KIM: Dimitris Moschopoulos – We will consult with the Serbian Orthodox Church to determine priorities and ways of protecting the religious heritage in Kosovo

The head of the Greek Office in Priština, who last week assumed the position of Special Advisor to the EU on issues of Serbian cultural heritage in Kosovo and Metohija, attended Liturgy today in the restored church of St. Nicholas in Priština. Moschopoulos told reporters that protection of the religious heritage in Kosovo is very important for the EU.

"Exceptional attention will be dedicated to the protection of the Serbian religious heritage in Kosovo. This is important not only for our country but for the European Union in general. We are in constant contact with the Serbian Orthodox Church, we do not want to make any decisions at all on our own regarding what are the priorities but throughout this process we are consulting with representatives of the SOC in Kosovo. We want to identify priorities and tasks to which we will focus in cooperation with them," said Moschopoulos. He added that an action plan would be made in the near future listing the priorities and the complete work plan. In addition to the representative of the Greek Office, representatives of the U.S. and British Offices in Pristina also attended the liturgy.

Desecration of Serb graves continues, Beta News Agency, Feb 19th

GNJILANE -- The grave of a Serb woman who was buried yesterday in Gnjilane, eastern Kosovo, was dug up during the night.

Kosovsko-Pomoravski District chief Dragan Nikolić told reporters today that the family found an open grave this morning, with the casket open and items removed from it. After that, the family laid the body to rest again in a different cemetery, in the village of Koretište.

"The deceased's last wish was to be buried in the upper part of the Gnjilane cemetery. This was the first burial in this cemetery since 1999. The digging up of her grave is a clear message to Serbs that they cannot even bury their dead in Gnjilane," said Nikolić. The town has a majority ethnic Albanian population. The case has been reported to the Kosovo police, KPS, the family said.

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Tanjug: Bishop Atanasije - The situation will calm down

Everything will settle down in the Diocese of Raška and Prizren, said Bishop Atanasije and urged the faithful "not to listen to people who mislead".

Bishop Atanasije, the administrator of the Diocese of Raška and Prizren, attended the liturgy served this morning (Feb. 19) in the church of St. Demetrius in the northern part of Kosovska Mitrovica and urged the faithful "not to listen to people who mislead”, transmitted Tanjug news agency.

"Do not listen to people who mislead. Bishop Artemije listened, but it seems that those who did not listen to him before but misused him have escaped from his obedience," said Atanasije.

He added that the situation in the Diocese of Raška and Prizren will calm down and that everything would settle down, reminding that "the people who have taken profit of the troubles of our people and our Church are already gone, that is, they have run away."

Bishop Atanasije expressed his satisfaction with the large number of children who attended the liturgy, calling on their parents to raise them properly.

Diocese Administrator Bishop Atanasije visits northern Kosovo

Administrator of the Diocese of Raška and Prizren Bishop Atanasije today (Feb. 19) visited the north of Kosovo, where he attended the Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts in the church of St. Demetrius in Mitrovica and met with priests and religion teachers of the Mitrovica administrative district. Bishop Atanasije also visited the monasteries of Sokolica and Banjska today, appointing hieromonk Danilo as acting hegumen (to replace the dismissed hegumen Simeon Vilovski).


On Saturday, February 20, 2010, on St. Theodore Saturday, His Grace Bishop Atanasije will serve Holy Hierarchal Liturgy in the restored church of St. Nicholas in Priština. Prior to the Holy Liturgy, which will begin at 9:00 a.m. the recently rebuilt church will be reconsecrated. Taking into account that the remaining Serbs in Priština and the Serbs who fled from the city have asked a number of times that liturgy be served in this church, this will be the first opportunity for many natives of Priština to gather in the church in prayer and for the first time since 2004, when the church was torched, for the bells on this Serbian Orthodox church to ring once again.

On the Sunday of Orthodoxy, February 21, 2010 at 9:00 a.m. Bishop Atanasije will serve. Holy Hierarchal Liturgy in the newly restored Orthodox cathedral of St. George in Prizren, where he will also first reconsecrate the church, which was completely rebuilt after being torched in March 2004. The arrival of many natives of Prizren is expected from various parts of Serbia as well as of the remaining faithful in the Prizren region. After the liturgy a procession with icons will be held. Bishop Atanasije’s intention is to establish regular church life as soon as possible in Prizren and that the see of the Diocese of Raška and Prizren, in accordance with the decision of the Holy Assembly of Bishops in 2009, return to the newly restored Bishop’s residence. This will give additional impetus to the return of expelled Serbs to this ancient Serbian medieval capital.

EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy Catherine Ashton visits Visoki Dečani Monastery

Today (February 19) His Grace Vicar Bishop Teodosije of Lipljan, together with protosingel Sava (Janjić) and hieromonk Andrej (Sejc), received the EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy Catherine Ashton in the monastery of Visoki Dečani. Lady Ashton was accompanied by Yves de Kermabon (head of EULEX), Pierre Mirel, European Commission Director for Western Balkans), Robert Cooper (Director-General for External and Politico-Military Affairs in the General Secretariat of the Council of the EU), Dimitris Moschopoulos (head of the Greek office in Priština and the newly appointed special adviser to the EU for Serbian cultural heritage in Kosovo) and their associates.

Bishop Teodosije welcomed Madam Ashton to the monastery, which, he said, is one of the most important Serbian Orthodox holy shrines in Kosovo and Metohija, along with the Patriarchate of Peć, the historic see of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Gračanica and the holy shrines of Prizren. "The protection of human and religious rights of the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija is certainly one of the most important priorities of the Serbian Orthodox Church in this region and we hope that conditions will be created for the return of a large number of displaced Serbs," said the Bishop, adding that "our people in the enclaves still live under very difficult circumstances and better conditions must be created for their life and future".

He stressed that "the Church is particularly concerned about the issue of the protection of her holy shrines and monuments of Serbian culture in Kosovo and Metohija, and that he is happy the European Union has appointed a Special Advisor for issues of Serbian cultural heritage, Mr. Moschopoulos, who during his stay in Kosovo so far as the head of the Greek office has established very good contacts with representatives of the Serbian Orthodox Church". Bishop Teodosije expressed the hope that in the future the EU will continue to make a contribution to the protection of the interests of the Serbian people and the Serbian Orthodox Church, noting that the issue of protecting the names and identity of Serbian heritage as well as the property rights of the Serbian Orthodox Church is particularly important.

"The existing serious political questions must be resolved through the dialogue of relevant political factors, but the Church is also willing to give its contribution by working to build bridges of trust and reconciliation among ethnic and religious communities in Kosovo and Metohija, carrying out its centuries-old mission of witnessing the truth of Christ," stressed the Bishop. Bishop Teodosije also mentioned the issue of the security of the monastery, emphasizing the need to keep the most important Serbian holy shrines that are guarded by KFOR under the protection of international peacekeeping forces because "the political situation is still very delicate."

Madam Ashton expressed her admiration for the beauty of the monastery and stressed the great importance of preserving the Orthodox shrines in Kosovo and Metohija, in which the newly appointed Special Adviser on affairs of Serbian cultural and religious heritage, Mr. Moschopoulos, will provide a special contribution. "In the EU you have many friends who recognize and respect your vision for the future of the Western Balkans in which all peoples will live in peace and mutual respect. We are ready to do everything to help to realize that vision for the benefit of all," Madam Ashton concluded, adding that she is very happy and privileged to have visited such an important and beautiful place, which must be preserved for future generations.

At the end of their one-hour visit to Visoki Dečani Monastery Catherine Ashton visited the Dečani church and learned about the monastery’s centuries-old history.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Financial committee of the Holy Synod continuing work in Gracanica Monastery

Starting today, the financial committee of the Holy Synod is continuing its work in Gracanica Monastery in order to thoroughly verify all aspects of the financial operations of the previous diocesan administration and to prepare a comprehensive report for the next session of the Holy Assembly of Bishops. At the same time, finances, personal accounts and illegally acquired property of the closest associates of Bishop Artemije are under investigation by the Serbian police. Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic told Tanjug yesterday that "the public be informed very soon" about the results of the investigation.

Vicar Bishop Teodosije said: "We are faced with a great test, because if we as religious servants do not follow evangelical principles, how can we expect the faithful to follow our words. The Lord says: "You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored?” (Mat 5:13). The clergy, monks and nuns in Kosovo and Metohija must set an example, and not be a stumbling block and a cause for distress and therefore our responsibility is even greater because of severe circumstances in which we live here. National and spiritual unity is our greatest task, and this can not be achieved on the basis of some secular ideology nor some individual, but only in community, in Liturgy, in the Church of Christ."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Director of Rade Neimar Diocesan Building Center arrested

Belgrade, February 17 (Tanjug) - Today in Belgrade police arrested the director of the Rade Neimar Building Center of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren Predrag Suboticki, a close associate of the dismissed Bishop Artemije, sources in the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs told Tanjug.

Suboticki is said to have been arrested on suspicion of illegally appropriating about 300,000 euros that were given to him without a receipt for monastery reconstruction. The Rade Neimar company was engaged in reconstruction and rebuilding of monasteries in Kosovo and Metohija in the period from 2004 to 2009.

The arrested man is the kum [best man or godfather] of the brother of Simeon Vilovski,  Bishop Artemije’s secretary, who is said to have fled.

On Saturday, February 13, the Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church replaced Bishop Artemije from administering the Diocese of Raska and Prizren on suspicion that there are financial irregularities in the operation of the Diocese.
Atanasije Jevtic has been appointed Bishop Administrator.


Additional information about Predrag Suboticki:

Although he permanently resides in Belgrade, Suboticki was appointed a member of the diocesan executive council of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren, and recently also special supervisor for all financial matters of the Diocese. The Rade Neimar company, which was closed at the end of last year, was simply replaced with the “Diocesan Building Commission” with none other than Predrag Suboticki appointed as its head. In the diocesan archive there is a document whereby the Bishop establishes that no building on the territory of the Diocese can be built without the engagement of the Diocesan Building Center headed by Suboticki. Although an electrical technician by trade, for years Suboticki had a complete monopoly on all construction jobs that were performed on the territory of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren.

James Jatras launches petition against decision of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church

We have learned from sources in the United States that James George Jatras has launched a U.S.-based online petition against the decision of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church with the request that the decision on suspending His Grace Bishop Artemije be annulled. It is important to mention that this is the same man who, as director of the lobbying firm Venable, according to data available on the website of the U.S. Department f Justice, in 2006 signed a contract with the Diocese according to which he was to be paid $600,000 for political lobbying purposes without, of course, the consent of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Since it is apparent from available documentation that a part of the money for "lobbying" came from humanitarian funds and the funds for the restoration of churches in the Diocese, Mr. Jatras’ petition is extremely hypocritical, to say the least, because the same man cost the Diocese and the hungry Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija hundreds of thousands of dollars, regularly receiving payment for even the most bizarre costs of his "lobbying".

This petition brings further confusion to the many honorable Orthodox Christians in the U.S. who empathize with the struggles and sufferings of the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija, as well as to spreading various other misinformation regarding the current situation in the Diocese.