Patriarch: The persecution of believers, occupation of their homes, and the destruction of churches
Source KoSSev/Večernji list
FOTO: TV Hram/Printscreen
„Who could simply disregard, turn a blind eye to the fact that people, Christians, Serbs were expelled from their homes, from their fields, in the 21st century, more than 200,000 of them, and that 140 churches were destroyed and demolished in Kosovo after 2000,“ the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church Porfirije said in an interview with the Croatian Večernji list.
The patriarch recalled that several incidents against church properties on the territory of Kosovo took place last month.
„Hypothetically speaking, if what will never happen – happened, if the Church recognized a false state created by violence, would the violence stop or intensify?“ – he posed a question.
Speaking about the spiritual significance of Kosovo for the Serb people, the Porfirije stated that the very notion of spirituality – although „a kind of social utopia“ – develops and manifests itself, “unrestrained by state borders”. He also underlined that it is a complex phenomenon.
„Spirituality as a religious, psychological, social, artistic, cultural phenomenon is related to the realities of life,“ the patriarch emphasized, adding that the Kosovo covenant is not a magical or mythical category, but a spiritual one.
„The words of the modern poet – ‘I don’t decide whether I will go to battle based on how great of a force is threatening me, but based on how great the holy site I am defending is!’ show us that the Kosovo covenant is an expression of the New Testament, sacrificing the lives of tens of thousands of Serb knights in the Battle of Kosovo, in the image of Christ’s sacrifice for the life of others and eternal life. The Kosovo covenant is therefore an expression of the Serb people’s devotion to Christ, an expression of complete faith in the resurrection,“ Porfirije said.
Speaking about the fact that every Christian, although very much different as an individual, participates together in prayer, he noted that at the same time he forms one political par excellence body.
„As such, it is understandable that we have certain common political interests: to pray freely, to profess our faith publicly, not to be subjected to discrimination, to nurture an authentic culture that is not limited to the church,“ the patriarch said.
In that sense, he underscored that the Kosovan, Montenegrin and Macedonian issues are both spiritual and political issues.
„I will mention a paradigmatic event from 2004. A young man climbed the church in Podujevo and broke the cross, while thousands of his compatriots encouraged him with cries and applause. Complete termination of the rights of Christian believers is at hand here: persecution of believers, occupation of their houses and properties, destruction of churches and all features of Christian culture – culturecide. If that scene is not convincing to anyone, let them imagine it happening somewhere in the east, in Syria, for example, where Islamists also burned Catholic churches. Or, for example, in Montenegro, where the party that has been in power since 1945 intended to, with a stroke of a pen, through the so-called The Law on Freedom of Religion, confiscate property from the Serbian Church which it had gained over the centuries. The issue of the Church in Macedonia is more complex for newspaper elaboration, it is primarily spiritual and ecclesiastical, and politicians, communists have turned it into a political, more precisely anti-political one. „
The patriarch argued that every person must take care of other people, adding that the responsibility of the patriarch is far greater – especially in the case the political rights of believers are endangered.
I was chosen to be the first, but I am fully aware that if I want to be the first, I have to serve everyone – and be the last
The Porfirije states that he will try to affirm and strengthen the voice of the people, the opinions of young people about the life of the church, their role, but also the participation of women in all aspects of the life of the Church wherever it is possible.
„I want to get close and help as much as I can all those who are endangered, homeless people, many of whom, unfortunately, can be found on the streets of Belgrade – as in every metropolis. We must not forget the elderly who are alone in the skyscrapers, I must not forget anyone“.
You can read Patriarch Porfirije’s full interview with Vecernji list journalist Branimir Pofuk here.