March 25, 2006

KiM Info Newsletter 25-03-06b

Serbian Orthodox Church delegation visits Appeal of Conscience Foundation and National Council of Churches
Office of the Kosovo and Metohija Committee of the
Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church
Belgrade23March, 2006

The Serbian Orthodox Church delegation, which is presently in New York, visited the Appeal of Conscience Foundation yesterday, Wednesday, March 22. In addition to the members of the delegation, the meeting was attended by Rabbi Arthur Schneier, the president of Appeal of Conscience, and his associates, Enrico Mandel-Mantello, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Mr. Michael Eisenstadt, Fr. Alexander Avramov, and Dr. Fred R. Anderson.

Members of SOC delegation with Rabbi Arthur Schneier and his associates

Rabbi Schneier sincerely welcomed the results of last year's visit, emphasizing that it is good that a SOC delegation visited the U.S.A. once again because its testimony at this point in time is of great importance. Rabbi Schneier said that Appeal of Conscience is especially interested in the protection of Christian Orthodox holy shrines in Kosovo, as well as in the enhancement of inter-faith cooperation throughout the territory of Southeastern Europe.
On behalf of the delegation Bishop Jovan expressed thanks to Rabbi Schneier for his hospitality, conveying the sincere greetings of His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle and the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox church. He informed Rabbi Schneier and his associates with the situation in Kosovo and Metohija, which remains grave, and the concern of the Serbian Orthodox Church regarding the consequences of a decision on the future status of Kosovo and Metohija for the future of the Church and its people. On behalf of the Holy Synod he asked Rabbi Schneier to use his influence to encourage devotion of more attention to the issue of protection of human and religious rights of Orthodox Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija.
Rabbi Arthur Schneier and his associates expressed deep sympathy for the suffering of the Serbian people and their Church of which they had been informed by the SOC delegation last year. He said that regardless of the future status of Kosovo, the world will not remain indifferent to how the majority will treat the minority, and to what degree human and religious rights will be respected in the region.

Members of the SOC at the Appeal of Conscience Foundation

Bishop Teodosije and Fr. Irinej Dobrijevic informed their collocutors with the activities of the delegation to date and the messages conveyed to the representatives of the U.S. Administration and Congress, as well as to senior officials of the UN in New York.
The members of the SOC delegation and representatives of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation then discussed various forms of cooperation and ways of protecting the Christian heritage in Kosovo and Metohija.
At the conclusion of a very sincere and friendly meeting, participants agreed to continue cooperation and remain in contact.

The delegation met yesterday in the offices of the U.S. National Council of Churches with the NCC advisor for international cooperation, Mr. Tony Kyriopoulos.
On behalf of the SOC Holy Synod of Bishops and the delegation which he heads, Bishop Jovan expressed his thanks for the assistance of the National Council of Churches when the Serbian people and the SOC were going through most difficult years of persecution by objectively testifying to the truth regarding events on the territory of the former Yugoslavia.

Members of the delegation with Tony Kyriopoulos

Bishop Jovan informed Mr. Kyriopoulos of the activities to date of the delegation in Washington and New York, emphasizing that before the future status of the Province is resolved it is necessary to ensure adequate protection for the holy shrines and people. The Church sees the return of refugees to their centuries-old homes as a special priority, said the bishop. In order for Serbs to survive and stay in Kosovo, it is necessary to provide them with firm guarantees; hence, Bishop Jovan asked Mr. Kyriopoulos on behalf of the SOC delegation for the NCC to insist on the realization of the rights of Serbs and their protection.
Bishop Teodosije spoke about the position of the monks and nuns in the monasteries, and the post-war systematic destruction of SOC holy shrines, emphasizing that the protection of the Serbian spiritual and cultural heritage is also a very important priority for the survival of both the Church and its faithful. With respect to this protection Bishop Teodosije also mentioned contacts with the nongovernmental organization ELIAMEP from Athens with whom SOC representatives recently held two very productive meetings.
The members of the SOC delegation emphasized that the NCC can do a lot by raising its voice to protect the Orthodox Christians in Kosovo, and pointing out critical problems of human and religious rights.
Mr. Kyriopoulos thanked the delegation for the facts they presented, promising that the NCC would do everything within its power to help the SOC and its faithful.

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