ichael . benson on Tue, 29 Jun 1999 23:57:45 +0000

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Syndicate: Collective responsibility

Hesitant though I am to return to the "collective responsibility" 
thread, the following text from today's New York Times is so 
remarkable that I had to forward it. As far as I know these 
statements from the Serbian orthodox church are entirely without 
precident in the history of Serbian orthodoxy (let alone the greater 
orthodox church). 

What's remarkable here is not just that Patriarch Pavle explicitly 
acknowledges the reality of collective responsibility -- it's his 
startling conclusions. Cynics who would say that it's only the loss 
of Kosovo that is prompting these kinds of statements should read 
what Bishop Artemije says as well; it's no less startling.

Incidentally, I visited Gracanica church in Kosovo a long time ago, 
in 1980, and made a photographic study of the place. It's a 
masterpiece of medieval architecture. Fortunately, video footage of 
it from the sermon today would seem to confirm that it was *not* 
damaged by the recent fighting. Let's hope it stays that way.

Greetings and best regards,

June 29, 1999

Serb Orthodox Leaders Denounce Milosevic's Policies as Criminal


GRACANICA, Yugoslavia -- The head of the Serbian Orthodox Church and 
the senior bishop of Kosovo joined Monday to denounced Yugoslav 
President Slobodan Milosevic, saying that his policies are criminal 
and are the root of the evil done in Kosovo. 

Speaking at a news conference at the 14th-century Orthodox monastery 
here, the head of the church, Patriarch Pavle, said if Serbia could 
survive only through crime then it should not survive at all. 

"If the only way to create a greater Serbia is by crime," Pavle said, 
"then I do not accept that, and let that Serbia disappear. And also 
if a lesser Serbia can only survive by crime, let it also disappear. 
And if all the Serbs had to die and only I remained and I could live 
only by crime, then I would not accept that, it would be better to 

The church delivered its most recent denunciation of Milosevic's 
policies in Kosovo on the 10th anniversary of his famous speech in 
Kosovo that set the course for a decade of conflict. The 
message from the church follows a call two weeks ago by the 
Serbian Orthodox Holy Synod for Milosevic to resign. 

Beside the patriarch Monday was Bishop Artemije, the most senior 
representative of the church in Kosovo, who was even more pointed in 
his criticism. 

"We are both aware, as God knows, how much evil has been done in the 
course of the last year and especially in the last three months," 
Artemije said. "The great part of the guilt lies with Milosevic." 

Artemije also faulted separatist extremists of the Kosovo Liberation 
Army for the violence, but he said the hatred and revenge exacted by 
the Albanians was understandable. 

"What is not understandable is the suffering caused by 
the undemocratic regime of Milosevic," the bishop said. "The Orthodox 
Church has called for the resignation of Milosevic, not because we 
lost the war in Kosovo, but because we think the problem could have 
been resolved peacefully." 

A letter with a similar message was released Monday. Customarily, 
such letters are passed on to parish priests who may read 
them to their congregations. 

Both clergymen deplored the violence against the Kosovo Albanians, as 
well as the violence against ethnic Serbs and the Orthodox Church in 
Kosovo. They called for NATO to step up its efforts to protect Serbs. 

Four monasteries and churches have been desecrated or burned in the 
last two weeks, since NATO security forces arrived. One priest has 
been abducted and one in Pec has been threatened, Artemije said. 

The patriarch was visiting Kosovo on one of the holiest days of the 
year for Kosovo Serbs, the anniversary of the battle of Kosovo Polje, 
when the Serbs were defeated by the Turks in 1389. Kosovo Polje is 
considered sacred ground by the Serbs, who define the defeat there as 
the beginning of their struggle to preserve Christianity 
despite pressure to convert to Islam. 

                     Copyright 1999 The New York Times Company 

Michael Benson  <michael.benson@pristop.si>
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