Bishop Atanasije, Administrator of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren responded yesterday with a letter to the editors of Vecernje Novosti to an article published by a journalist of this paper under the pseudonym E.V.N. Bishop Atanasije’s letter follows:
First ignorance/lie: ''Bishop Atanasije served the new Liturgy'' and slightly below that, using different words: ''not according to the established church order, but with some new elements''. – Response: Bishop Atanasije served according to the official Sluzhebnik of the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The story of ignorant persons about “the established order” deserves the response: Which and whose “established order” do you mean? The one from the former Austro-Hungary? – No, the one from printed Serbian Sluzhebniks, which was transmitted in the modern Serbian language in the Synod Sluzhebnik. Unfortunately, what we have happening, especially in the newspapers, is ignorant people preaching to the Synod and the Bishops. And bishops serve the Holy Hierarchal Liturgy, which is eternally old and eternally new (Mat 13:52).
Another lie: ''A large number of those present (at the Liturgy in Gracanica) demonstrated their indignation by not waiting for the end of the service.’ The news is false and malicious (unless you take into account that a small number of Serbs more or less always leaves Church before the final dismissal). Here, on the contrary, most faithful stayed to the end of the Divine Service; all the children and many of the elderly took communion, then attended the cutting of the slava cake cutting by the Mother Abbess of Gracanica and the baptism of two children. After that most people moved into the monastery dining room to refresh themselves and to remain in prolonged conversation with the new Bishop.
Third lie: The abbess of Gorioc Monastery has supposedly been “dismissed”! – She has not been dismissed. It is erroneous news such as this that “creates further division” among the people, among the naive.
Fourth: The comments of self-proclaimed “experts on canonical law” (such as the unfortunate case of the renowned poor fellow Zeljko Kotor, who probably studied canonical law in one of Suvar’s schools* but does not know the Holy Canons; he can be considered an “expert” only by the ignorant E.V.N. and others like him). – Such a pretentious comment wants to say that the Holy Synod of Bishops theologians do not know the Canons of the Church! The Holy Synod, however, duly called Bishop Artemije three times (each time by a different delegation) to come to a meeting of the Synod, but he either refused or tricked it; he then tried “a private conversation'' with the Patriarch, to which His Beatitude, having learned a lesson from the previous “beating around the bush”, answered: ''Come to the meeting of the Synod; I do not make decisions alone but communally,” and Bishop Artemije left the Patriarchate. He arrived only on the last day and hour in the Holy Synod to tell his brothers, the members of the Synod that they were “in too much of a hurry”. Whoever understands – let him understand!
The rest will be said by the Holy Synod and the Holy Assembly in due course.
"Let the children come to me,
for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven"
Bishops Atanasije and Grigorije of Herzegovina with "a little deacon"
* Trans. note: Stipe Suvar, former Croatian education minister, leading Communist of the 1970s and 1980s