Patriarch Pavle and Bishop Artemije

SERBIAN ORTHODOX BISHOP OF RASKA AND PRIZREN
A R T E M I J E

Easter Proclamation to the Serbian People of
Kosovo and Metohia

Spiritual children who love Christ and believe in Him, Christ is risen!

For years we have been led through roadless areas, rarely trodden before, and here we are, brought not to the brink, but to the very bottom of disaster. Unfortunately, not only domestic evil, but also foreign evil contributed to this situation and created it. Due to that, every day, bombs and missiles, fall on our holy places and buildings, on our homes, on our villages and towns, taking away from us, bit by bit, our spiritual, national and biological being. To comfort us and to compensate for what we are losing, the present authorities (whose disastrous politics, in the past ten years, has led us to the present situation) offer, night and day, films full of partisan ideals, fratricidal hate and poisonous godlessness, and occasionally interrupt them by news full of untruths and half-truths.

However bitter these facts may be, there is and there can be no excuse for this irrational, criminal action of NATO alliance, which tries, by its insane politics and by its characteristic arrogance, to cure evil by using evil, to prevent and alleviate suffering of innocent victims on Kosovo and Methohia regardless of their nationalities and religious feelings, by using force and violence. Indeed, no reason can ever be provided for this action, therefore it will remain the blackest spot on the conscience of humanity at the end of 20th century. This is, actually, a cause-consequence relation, when one evil causes another, very often much bigger and even worse, thus enlarging and expanding the spiral of evil and violence on one side, and afflictions of innocent people on the other side. Just like the God's word says: "One woe is past, and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter". (Revelation of St. John 9:12).

The evils we endure and suffer (the one imposed by the authorities, the other by the Albanians, and the third by NATO) do not depend on us, we cannot influence the length of their duration or the moment of their ceasing. That is within the scope of those people who have, as always, decided about the life and death of the whole nation.

The third evil, which is the most fatal for all of us, depends solely on ourselves. Whether we shall be and remain humane or inhumane persons, whether we shall be real brothers to one another and good neighbors to the peoples of other nations and religions, whether we shall use this chaotic situation to do good or bad to our neighbour, depends solely and exclusively on us. If we are Christians, if we are people, then we should abide by the words of the holy Gospel: "Therefore all thing whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them". (Matthew 7:127).

None of us wants to be humiliated, tortured, robbed of killed by anybody. Unfortunately, to our disgrace and shame, we can hear that things like that happen in many places, and they are done by unreasonable individuals or groups, who, by using the absence of firm law, order and system, inflict pain to one anther, burglarize and rob stores and houses of their neighbors, take away things and kidnap people, torture and kill one another. By such behavior, the evil grows and multiplies, so as to return to us in the end, as a boomerang, with even bigger fury and force.

Therefore We, as your spiritual Shepherd, appeal and plead: In order to stop evil, violence and ruin of the peoples of Kosovo and Metohia, which we have been enduring for so long, let us direct the eyes of our heart to Heaven, let us seek and plead for mercy and protection of our only Friend and Protector -- God -- since, now, we do not have any other friend and helper on earth. At the same time, let us do everything, which is up to us, to reduce evil, to avoid evil deeds, and to do good to everyone needing it, since we are all human and have many things in common: both joy, pain, suffering, life and death. Let us not forget that human life is essentially important, and that the only master of every man's life is his Maker God, thus, we do not have the right to deprive each other of that most valuable God's gift. We should especially take care not to violate holy objects, cultural monuments and sacred things of peoples of other religions and nationalities. We appeal to you, our believers, to settle all your disagreements, both those among yourselves and those with the people of other religions and nationalities, peacefully and with dignity, as human beings.

Doing and acting in such manner only, our dear spiritual children, can we hope to see the end of this inflicted pain and destruction and to live to better and happier days in future. Our duty and holy obligation to the generations following, to our descendants, is to leave as inheritance that which we obtained and inherited from our holy ancestors, i.e. true faith and humanity, as well as our good deeds and virtues. Only in such a way, shall we be their model for comparison, and the reason for their feeling of honour and pride for having had such ancestors. If we behave in different way, as inhuman persons, let us ask ourselves what we shall leave to them as inheritance? Only that which they will be ashamed of, when facing themselves and others, for being descendants of such unworthy ancestors.

So, let there be in front of our eyes, on our tongue and in our heart, everyday, these short prayers:

-Lord, give me strength to change what I can change!

-Lord, give me strength to endure what I cannot change!

-And wisdom to distinguish those two!

At the end, in these days of Christ's and our suffering, we greet you all with the greeting of eternal hope and joy.

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!

Prizren, March 27, 1999

Offering prayers before the countenance of Risen Lord

Bishop + Artemije