SERBIAN CHURCH HAS APPEALED TO THE HEADS OF THE CHURCHES AS WELL AS TO THE WORLD POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS AND PERSONS ASKING PROTECTION OF ITS FAITHFUL PEOPLE AND CHURCHES IN KOSOVO AND METOHIA

The Holy Synod of Bishops has requested of significant political institutions and persons that its faithful people and churches in Kosovo and Metohia should be protected, and informed on this the heads of the sister Orthodox Churches.

In the letters, sent to numerous addresses throughout the world these days, there has been pointed out that the most precious and the most valuable Serbian shrines, churches and monasteries - which serve as monuments of the Christian art and culture of the Middle Ages - are being destroyed in Kosovo and Metohia. All of that happens in the region which is under control of the international community, in the presence of several tens of thousands of soldiers, policemen, officers and other peacemakers from the whole world.

Among other things, the Holy Synod of Bishops has pointed out many examples of the above said: the Church of the Most Holy Mother of God Hodegetria at Musutiste, near Prizren - which had first been set on fire, and then completely destroyed by mining, and which had an original inscription dating from 1315 carved in the door, stating that the Church was erected by Jovan Dragoslav, a nobleman of King Milutin; then, the Church of the Entrance of the Most Holy Mother of God into Temple, at Dolac Middle Ages square, near Klina, with two layers of fresco-paintings, from 14th and 17th century; then the Holy Trinity Monastery near Musutiste, dating from 1465 - which was set on fire and completely destroyed by mining - and many other churches and monasteries. Further on, it has been pointed out that the Albanians destroyed and razed more than 80 monasteries and churches (many of which were built in the Middle Ages and thus, according to all parameters, they belong to the cultural heritage) since KFOR and UNMIK came into the area of Diocese of Raska and Prizren. Unfortunately, none of the persons who committed these criminal acts was arrested and brought before the court. Rt. Rev. Artemije, the Bishop of Raska and Prizren, complained to KFOR because of this many times, but it was said to him to remove the ruins of these churches, or else the Albanians would do that. What really saddens is the fact that those people who have come to protect all the communities living in Kosovo and Metohia, request of the Serbian Church to remove the traces of its centuries-long existence in this region. It has been requested of Mr Frederic Mayor, General Director of UNESCO, to engage one part of the professional staffs to protect the mentioned shrines.

The Holy Synod of Bishops also appealed that the claiming attempts of some Albanian quasi scientists should be stopped. Those pseudo scientists lay claims to the Bishop Church of the Mother of God Ljeviska in Prizren, that was built on the foundations of an older three-nave basilica from 10th century and reconstructed at the beginning of 13th century by King Stefan the First-Crowned, as well as to the Monastery of the Holy Archangels, which was erected by Emperor Dusan also at the place of an older church building in the period 1344-52, claiming that those churches once served as Muslim places of worship.

The pain of the Serbian Orthodox Church is even bigger when it is known that more than 400 Serbs were killed, over 600 were kidnapped and more than 250 000 expelled from Kosovo and Metohia, since the establishment of the international management in Kosovo and Metohia.

The appeal for the stopping of the crimes that are being committed at the end of the 2000th year of Christianity to the Serbian, European and world cultural heritage has been sent to His Holiness Bartholomey, the Patriarch of Constantinople; His Beatitude Peter, the Patriarch of Alexandria; His Beatitude Ignatius, the Patriarch of Antioch; His Beatitude Diodoros, the Patriarch of Jerusalem; His Holiness Aleksey, the Patriarch of Moscow, His Holiness Elijah, the Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia; His Beatitude Theoktist, the Patriarch of Romania; His Holiness Maxim, the Patriarch of Bulgaria; His Beatitude Hrisostom, the Archbishop of Cyprus; His Beatitude Hristodoulos, the Archbishop of Athens; Rt. Rev. Sava, the Archbishop of Poland; Rt. Rev. Dorothey, the Archbishop of Czech and Slovak countries; His Beatitude John, the Archbishop of Finland; His Beatitude Anastasius, the Archbishop of Tirana; then to Mr Kofi Anan, UN Secretary General; Mr Frederick Mayor, UNESCO General Director; Mr Marti Ahtisaari, the presiding Minister of the European Council; Mr Conrad Riser, Secretary General of the World Council of Churches; Mr Keith Clemens, Secretary General of the European Churches Conference; the Association of the European Bishop Conferences, and to the Bishop Conference of Croatia.

Information Service of the Serbian Orthodox Church