Patriarch's Christmas message puts emphasis on Kosovo

BELGRADE -- Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) Patriarch Irinej sent his traditional Christmas epistle with special emphasis on the position of Serbs in Kosovo.

(Tanjug)
(Tanjug)

The patriarch said that suffering and injustice persist there.

"Unrest and violence rule in Kosovo and Metohija. For decades and centuries, they have been robbing us of that province, of the historical Old Serbia,” said Irinej in the epistle read at the Patriarchate, which he addressed on behalf of all bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The patriarch sent the message ahead of Christmas - celebrated by Serbia's majority Orthodox believers according to the Julian calendar, on January 7.

"To our brothers and sisters in Kosovo and Metohija we say: be aware that you are not alone and forgotten, the entire Serbian nation and the justice-loving people of the world are with you," Patriarch Irinej said, calling on the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija to live in peace, harmony and love, both with each other and everyone else.

The Patriarch also touched on the position of Serbs in former Yugoslav republics, noting that the exile of the Cyrillic script is “used as a cover to continue the exile of Serbs from Croatia, to intimidate them and prevent them from coming back".

Patriarch Irinej appealed to the Macedonian authorities to immediately release Archbishop Jovan, head of the Ohrid Archdiocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church, who is “unjustly held captive, and his flock is denied the freedom of faith and conscience". He also urged the international community to prevent further discrimination.

Patriarch Irinej also protested over incessant “attacks of the regime in power in Montenegro on the identity, status and freedom of the Serbian Orthodox Church, and attempts to interfere with its internal affairs and canonical structure”.

In his epistle, Patriarch wonders why the ideologists of independent Montenegrin Orthodox Church do not require a similar thing from the Roman Catholic Church as well, and ask it to move its seat from Vatican to Montenegro.