December 16, 2003

ERP KiM Newsletter 16-11-03b

L'Espresso: In Kosovo the Orthodox Church is under siege

To worldwide indifference, more than one hundred churches have already been assaulted and destroyed. Others are defended by NATO soldiers. The role of the Vatican and the growth of Islamic extremism


KFOR and police protection around the church of St. Uros in Urosevac
during the Holy Liturgy on Monday December 15 "St. Uros day"
More
(photo taken by Holy Archangels' monks)

CONTENTS:

L'Espresso (Italy) In Kosovo the Orthodox Church is under siegeIn Kosovo today, the Orthodox Serbs are a besieged and endangered minority. Of the roughly 250,000 who fled following NATO's military intervention, only a few thousand have returned. Together with the 130,000 who remained, they are herded in restricted zones and kept under constant threat. Power rests in the hands of the Muslim Kosovar Albanians. The future status of the region is uncertain.

Fr. Miron: We respond to Albanian grenades with prayer
The Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija "responded" to the bomb attack two days ago on the Church of St. Uros in Urosevac with Holy Liturgy served today, on the patron saint's day of the Holy Emperor Uros, in the church.

Devic Monastery celebrates the patron saint's day of St. Joanikije in the heart of Drenica
The monastery patron saint's day of St. Joanikije of Devic the Miracle Worker was celebrated today in the monastery of Devic near Srbica. After the Holy Liturgy, which was served by Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral and Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren and clergy and the cutting of the slava cake, Metropolitan Amfilohije addressed the numerous believers who arrived at the monastery, in the heart of Drenica, with a KFOR escort to celebrate the Lord and his great chosen servant, Joanikije (Janicije) of Devic.

Letter: Why as a Christian I can't tolerate seeing Serbs suffer, Rev. Geoffrey Wyatt
The BBC's opinion notwithstanding, the Serbs of Kosovo were not invaders or interlopers or occupiers of land not their own. On the contrary, they had at least as historic a right to a presence in that province as any other ethnic group in that place, their churches and
gravestones bearing more than adequate testimony to that fact.


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This newsletter is available on our ERP KIM Web-site:
http://www.kosovo.net/erpkiminfo.html



 

In Kosovo la Chiesa ortodossa è sotto assedio. Il ruolo del Vaticano e la crescita dell'estremismo islamico

L'Espresso (It): In Kosovo the Orthodox Church is under siege

In Kosovo today, the Orthodox Serbs are a besieged and endangered minority. Of the roughly 250,000 who fled following NATO's military intervention, only a few thousand have returned. Together with the 130,000 who remained, they are herded in restricted zones and kept under constant threat. Power rests in the hands of the Muslim Kosovar Albanians. The future status of the region is uncertain.

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Original text in Italian:
http://213.92.16.98/ESW_articolo/0,2393,41994,00.html


English translation
http://213.92.16.98/ESW_articolo/0,2393,41995,00.html  or
http://www.balkanpeace.org/hed/archive/dec03/hed6151.shtml

L'Espresso (Italy), December 16, 2003

by Sandro Magister

To worldwide indifference, more than one hundred churches have already been assaulted and destroyed. Others are defended by NATO soldiers. The role of the Vatican and the growth of Islamic extremism

(photo: For more than four years Decani Monastery monks can travel only under KFOR escort)

ROMA - During the last week of November, two more Orthodox Christian churches were attacked and damaged in Kosovo - in Gornja Brnjica, and in Susica. Neither was protected by KFOR, the military force under NATO command that maintains order in the region.

Since the war ended with the defeat of the Serbs in 1999, more than one hundred Orthodox holy places have been assaulted and destroyed in Kosovo, many of them going back to the 13th and 14th centuries. Earlier, while the Serbian army of Slobodan Milosevic had control of the region, it is calculated that 212 of the 560 Muslim mosques in the area were damaged or razed.

In Kosovo today, the Orthodox Serbs are a besieged and endangered minority. Of the roughly 250,000 who fled following NATO's military intervention, only a few thousand have returned. Together with the 130,000 who remained, they are herded in restricted zones and kept under constant threat. Power rests in the hands of the Muslim Kosovar Albanians. The future status of the region is uncertain. Formally, Kosovo remains an autonomous province of the Republic of Serbia and Montenegro, but resolution 1244 of the United Nations defining its status also refers to the Rambouillet accords of 1999, which appeal to the principle of self-determination of peoples in outlining the definitive arrangement of the area. And the overwhelming Albanian majority has enlisted this point in its bid for independence.

The destruction of Christian churches is part of this plan - or, at least, that's what the local Orthodox community fears. "Either destruction, or transformation into museums," specifies Fr. Sava Janjic, vice-prior of the monastery of Decani.

This monastery is one of the masterpieces of medieval art in Kosovo, an historic cradle of Serbian Orthodoxy. It is occupied by 35 monks, many of whom have entered during the last twelve years, in a complete rebirth of monastic life. During the war, they were lavish in their defense of the Kosovar Albanians, threatened with ethnic cleansing by Slobodan Milosevic's army. But today, it is the monks who are under constant threat. The Italian soldiers of KFOR ensure the defense of the monastery. The monks may not venture beyond the security fence to visit their faithful unless they are accompanied by an armed escort. The condition of the other 25 monasteries and churches under KFOR protection is similar. Among the most precious holy places - and the ones most at risk - are the patriarchate of Pec, the monastery of Gracanica, and the cathedral of the Mother of God of Ljevisa, in Prizren.

(photo: Christian churches under constant protection from Muslim Albanian extremists, Budisavci)

Artemjie, the bishop of Raska and Prizren, the highest Orthodox authority in Kosovo, laments "the inexplicable silence of Christian and democratic Europe in the face of such grave crimes committed against a Christian and European people, which the Serbian people is." And he accuses the Vatican of having been "amply implicated in the events" that produced the current situation.

Fr. Sava specifies that an authentic smear campaign has been unleashed against the Serbian Church: "The schools teach the theory that we did not build most of the Orthodox holy places in Kosovo, but that Roman Catholic Church did, and that they do not belong to us."

There are approximately 65,000 Catholics in Kosovo. "We have excellent relations with the Muslims, and the government treats us well," a spokesman for the apostolic administration of Prizen told the Norwegian news agency for religious liberty "Forum 18."

But there is a more disquieting reality behind these words. All throughout Kosovo, new mosques and Koranic schools financed by Saudi Arabia are springing up, and the influence of the Islamist currents is growing.

This is confirmed by the dangers incurred by Muslims who convert to Christianity.

These dangers were almost nonexistent in the past. Islam is generally weakly rooted in the Albanian population, and is accompanied by weak social controls.

But now extremist groups have appeared. And life has become difficult for those who convert. Last May 11, in Gnjilane, a convert was brutally beaten and threatened with death as a "traitor."

The ones most targeted are the converts to the evangelical Churches, which are the most active in the missions. Many of the newly baptized are forced to keep their conversion hidden even from their loved ones.

The Catholic Church has chosen to keep a low profile and not to proselytize, and thus it feels Islamic pressure less. The moderate Muslim leader Ibrahim Rugova recently said that he has come to know the Catholic faith better and that he respects it a great deal.

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Fr. Miron in front of the Urosevac Serbian Orthodox church which was
attacked by Albanian extremists last Friday evening

Fr. Miron: We respond to Albanian grenades with prayer and firm determination to remain at home

The Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija "responded" to the bomb attack two days ago on the Church of St. Uros in Urosevac with Holy Liturgy served today, on the patron saint's day of the Holy Emperor Uros, in the church.

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ERP KiM Info-service
Gracanica, December 15, 2003

The Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija "responded" to the bomb attack two days ago on the Church of St. Uros in Urosevac with Holy Liturgy served today, on the patron saint's day of the Holy Emperor Uros, in the church.

With the blessing of Bishop Artemije Holy Liturgy was served by Fr. Miron Kosac with the monks of Holy Archangels Monastery near Prizren. After Holy Liturgy and the cutting of the "Slava cake", the monks visited the commander of the Greek KFOR contingent whose soldiers guard the Church of St. Uros and five other partially damaged Serbian Orthodox churches in their zone of responsibility around the clock. The Greek soldiers regularly clean the inside of the Church of St. Uros, washing the floors and windows. "It is truly amazing to see the care the Greek soldiers have shown toward this church," said Fr. Miron.

Greek members of KFOR also take care of the last 17 elderly Serbs remaining in Urosevac. They are under constant military protection of Greek soldiers, who also provide them with one meal a day, heating and regular medical care. The remaining Serbs in Urosevac are also cared for by the NGO "Majka Jugovica" headed by presbytera Svetlana Stevic, as well as by the medical team of the "Simonida Health Center" in Gracanica.

The Greek Commander Ltc. P. Bromis told the representatives of the Diocese with pride that the construction of Serb houses in the nearby village of Babljak, which was torched by Albanian extremists in the summer of 1999 and the entire Serbian population expelled, had already begun and that they will be ready for moving in by next summer when the return of expelled persons to the village, and probably to other parts of Urosevac municipality, too, is expected.

On behalf of the Serbian Orthodox Church Fr. Miron thanked the Greek KFOR for their efforts and concern for the remaining Serbs in Urosevac and the Orthodox cathedral of St. Uros conveying warmest blessings for the forthcoming Christmas holidays from Bishop Artemije.

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A scene captured by Holy Archangel Monks in front of St. Uros church
During the service the area was heavily guarded by armored vehicles and additional police forces

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Devic Monastery celebrates patron saint's day of St. Joanikije in the heart of Drenica

The monastery patron saint's day of St. Joanikije of Devic the Miracle Worker was celebrated today in the monastery of Devic near Srbica now called by Muslim Albanians "Skenderaj". After the Holy Liturgy, which was served by Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral and Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren and clergy and the cutting of the slava cake, Metropolitan Amfilohije addressed the numerous believers who arrived at the monastery, in the heart of Drenica, with a KFOR escort to celebrate the Lord and his great chosen servant, Joanikije (Janicije) of Devic.

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Kosovo is our Jerusalem and against those who want to
drive us away and destroy our shrines we will resist with Christian faith and prayer

Bishops Amfilohije and Artemije at the traditional cutting of "Slava cake"
after the Holy Liturgy in Devic Monastery

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ERP KiM Info-service
Gracanica, December 15, 2003

(photo: Bishop Artemije distributes gifts to children at Devic Monastery. Thanks to KFOR and police escort the Orthodox faithful, mostly form North Kosovo attended the celebration)

The monastery patron saint's day of St. Joanikije of Devic the Miracle Worker was celebrated today in the monastery of Devic near Srbica, now called by Muslim Albanians "Skenderaj". After the Holy Liturgy, which was served by Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral and Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren and clergy and the cutting of the slava cake, Metropolitan Amfilohije addressed the numerous believers who arrived at the monastery, in the heart of Drenica, with a KFOR escort to celebrate the Lord and his great chosen servant, Joanikije (Janicije) of Devic.

Metropolitan Amfilohije with special words encouraged the abbess of Devic, Mother Anastasija, and the sisters who since 1998 have lived in complete isolation and under constant threat by Albanian extremists because the area around the monastery is known as a Mecca of KLA hardliners. In June 1999 members of the KLA broke into the monastery and looted it. If Fr. Radivoje Panic (now serving at the Church of St. Aleksandar Nevski in Belgrade) and the abbess of Sokolica Monastery, Mother Macaria, had not arrived at the last moment with French KFOR troops, the Albanian extremists would have completely destroyed the monastery and killed the sisterhood. Since then the monastery has been under the constant military protection of KFOR

According to tradition Devic Monastery was built by George Brankovich in the 15th century, after the Devic miracle worker Joanikije, who for some time had lived in a hollow tree not far away, cured his daughter. In World War II Albanian Nazi collaborators (Balli Combetar) burned the monastery to the ground but after the war it was resurrected from the ashes by the nuns and the late Abbess Paraskeva. To this day the monastery houses the grave of the saint, where numerous miracles and cures have taken place. The nuns of Devic are determined: "Ever since arriving in this monastery as a young girl to today we have fought a battle to preserve this holy shrine. We are certain that God and our Patron Saint will give us the strength to endure to the end," said Mother Anastasija.

More about Devic Monastery and the life of Devic nuns: /edevic.html

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A letter of a priest from the U.K:

Why, as a Christian, I can't tolerate seeing Serbs suffer

The BBC's opinion notwithstanding, the Serbs of Kosovo were not invaders or interlopers or occupiers of land not their own. On the contrary, they had at least as historic a right to a presence in that province as any other ethnic group in that place, their churches and
gravestones bearing more than adequate testimony to that fact.

http://www.thisisnorthdevon.co.uk/displayNode.jsp?nodeId=77707&command=displayContent&sourceNode=77259&contentPK=8090133

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Western Morning News
18:00 - 11 December 2003

On June 23, 1944 in Byelorussia on the Eastern front, Russian infantry advanced behind rolling artillery barrages from 31,000 guns, ranged almost wheel-to-wheel at an average 170 guns and rocket-launchers per kilometre of front. So began the Red Army's Operation Bagration, which within five weeks had resulted in the greatest single defeat of the German army in the Second World War: the virtual destruction of Army Group Centre. Little wonder that, to the Russians, the Queen of the Battlefield was not (as one might suppose) the superb T-34 medium tank - but the artillery.

Since the end of the Second World War, the powerful North Atlantic Pact, controlled from the
Pentagon, has carried on where National Socialist Germany left off, namely in the endless
defamation of the Eastern Orthodox Slavs, represented mainly by Russia and Serbia. As I was pondering the best way to begin the demolition of this sneering propaganda, I thought I might follow the example of Bagration - and open with an artillery barrage of my own.

The letter you are about to read has its basis in one I drafted on June 20, 1999 - the day that Serbian Orthodox Church buildings in Pec, Kosovo, were in flames. It was written, as the prophet Ezekiel put it, 'in the heat of my spirit...' The recent adventure in Iraq has rekindled the embers.

The BBC's opinion notwithstanding, the Serbs of Kosovo were not invaders or interlopers or
occupiers of land not their own. On the contrary, they had at least as historic a right to a
presence in that province as any other ethnic group in that place, their churches and
gravestones bearing more than adequate testimony to that fact.

Ignoring the facts, the new world order began a bombing campaign on March 24, 1999 that lasted for 78 days. Belgrade was hit for the first time on April 3. Pounded into submission from the air, the Yugoslav Federal Parliament ratified NATO terms for a cease-fire.

The Federal Yugoslav Army was, and remains, undefeated in the field, but was compelled to leave its Kosovan province by the cease-fire terms. The venue NATO selected for the signing of the cease-fire agreement, namely Kumanovo in northern Macedonia, was highly significant and was surely meant to add to the humiliation of the Yugoslav army, for it was at that place in 1912 that Serbia obtained its victory over the Turks which ended the first Balkan war.

The 40,000 men of the Yugoslav Third Army and reserve were given a mere seven days to remove themselves and all their military vehicles from Kosovo, and that with all their command and control facilities bombed to nothing.

With their only protection from the NATO-equipped Kosovo Liberation Army now gone, ordinary Serbian families, men, women and children, were left with no choice but to flee into Serbia proper. I have a message from God for those who lead NATO: whoever assumed the role of the civil authority for the Yugoslav province of Kosovo and then permitted violence and the looting of Serbian property was a passive anarchist and looter, an accessory during and after the fact.

The new world order advanced its cause by launching its hi-tech terror weapons on civilian power stations, water treatment plants, motor car factories, oil refineries, the Danube bridges, a television station, and at least one hospital.

Then, with the civilian population on its knees, it calmly announced aid, but with provisos.
Promise reconstruction money as the hostile West will, I suspect that Belgrade's civic buildings are as NATO left them - in ruins. In the new world order risk to life is transferred from military personnel to civilians.

Thus we in the UK, who can justly be proud of a glorious past, now have a new kind of 'victory': that of the loss of 2,000 Yugoslav civilian lives and of at least 5,000 military ones, for the loss of nil of our own.

I do not call that a victory, I call it an obscenity, and any honourable soldier would call it
by the same name.

Serbia-Montenegro is now the only multi-ethnic part of what was once the Yugoslav Federation. Virtually no Serbs remain in their ancient homelands in Croatia or in Kosovo.

Why, you ask, does this man, an evangelical minister, involve himself in political affairs? It
is a proper question, and it has to be answered.

I have an interest, I confess, in military matters, but I leave politics to the politicians. I
do keep my eye on world affairs though, and the problem was that here I was high up in my Stoke Rivers parish, content with my own sphere of concern, when the Western power invaded it through radio and television, and as a cloak for its special agenda called its deeds by all kinds of spiritual names, such as righteous, or godly, or good against evil, or crusade, or believe it or not, Christian!

If that malign power had kept away from my province, which is the government of Christ in the human heart, and had kept to its own side of the border, I would gladly have kept quiet and channelled my efforts elsewhere.

But it insisted on using my kingdom (that is to say, the kingdom of Christ to which I belong)
and its values as a front for its own anti-Orthodox Slav agenda.

What the North Atlantic Pact did in Yugoslavia was the exact opposite of Christian, and I will
no longer sit idly by while the man or woman in the street, trying to make a living and
wondering from time to time what life is all about, is brainwashed day and night into believing that might must be right, or worse, that it is Christian!

I hope this letter has shown you that an evangelical ministry does not live in the sky drinking
cups of tea (as the soaps love to portray) - but in this, the real world, and occupies a kind of
representative position between heaven and hell, trying to show men and women how to avoid the one and find the other.

Rev. Geoffrey Wyatt
Cross Cottage, Stoke Rivers


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ERP KIM Info-Service is the official Information Service of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizren and works with the blessing of His Grace Bishop Artemije.
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