The clergy of the Serbian Orthodox Church have entered their desecrated and violated church near Podujevo
With the blessing of Bishop Teodosije of Raška-Prizren (SOC), a holy liturgy was served today in the village of Rakitnica near Podujevo, in the Church of Saint Archangel Michael. The liturgy was conducted by Fr. Sava, the abbot of the Visoki Dečani Monastery, along with the local priest Fr. Stanisa Arsić. The Holy Eucharist service was attended by representatives of the Raška-Prizren Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
Since a group led by the self-proclaimed “priest” Nikolla Xhufka from Albania, who is not recognized as a clergyman even in his country and is known for spreading ethnic and religious intolerance, broke into this church on November 28th this year, representatives of the Raška-Prizren Diocese first performed a re-consecration of the desecrated church and then served the Holy Liturgy.
During the service, representatives of the EULEX monitoring team, a Carabinieri patrol working with EULEX, and the Kosovo Police were present outside the church. The event proceeded peacefully, and after the liturgy, the lock on the church entrance was replaced.
In his sermon during the liturgy, Father Sava emphasized that by reconsecrating the church and the holy Liturgy, the Church of Saint Archangel Michael was returned to its regular ecclesiastical order as a place of worship of the Serbian Orthodox Church – Diocese of Raška-Prizren.
Father Sava expressed hope that this church, like all other Serbian Orthodox Church holy sites in the area, would be respected and protected from further desecration, as it is the role of our Church to spread respect among all citizens in this area, but also to take care of its heritage.
After the liturgy, Father Sava and diocesan representatives engaged in a brief conversation with representatives of EULEX and the Kosovo Police.
The Raška-Prizren Diocese expresses concern that the Kosovo Police in Podujevo refused to accept the Diocese’s criminal complaint regarding the break-in and desecration at the church and to conduct an investigation against the self-proclaimed clergymen Nikolla Xhufka and Kristian Zagalli, as well as those involved in this illegal act, among whom, according to the portal kosovapost.net, were also employees of the municipal administration in Podujevo.
The criminal complaint of the diocese was rejected by the police twice: on December 1st and again yesterday, December 5th, when the diocese, through its lawyer, attempted to submit the criminal complaint to the police in the presence of the EULEX monitoring team. The Kosovo Police refused to accept the criminal complaint, although they are obliged to do so under the laws of Kosovo, which constitutes a serious breach of the law, a matter that has been notified to all international representatives in Kosovo.
The Diocese of Raška-Prizren has already filed a criminal complaint at the Prosecutor’s Office in Pristina against Nikolla Xhufka, Kristian Zagalli and their accomplices for forcibly entering the Serbian Orthodox Church of Saint Archangel Michael in the village of Rakitnica/Rakinicë near Podujevo. The complaint refers to a violation of Article 141 of the Criminal Code of Kosovo, pertaining to inciting discord and ethnic and religious intolerance. EULEX has assumed the responsibility of monitoring this case to ensure that the perpetrators of the criminal act are duly penalized.