Official Statement of the Diocese of Raška-Prizren Regarding the Prohibition of Entry to Kosovo and Metohija for the Serbian Patriarch on the Occasion of the Opening of the Holy Assembly of Bishops at the Peć Patriarchate Monastery

The Diocese of Raška-Prizren, along with its clergy, monastics, and faithful, deeply regrets today’s decision by the Kosovo authorities. This decision prohibited His Holiness the Serbian Patriarch Porfirije and the accompanying bishops from entering Kosovo and Metohija to participate with other bishops in the Divine Liturgy at the Patriarchate of Peć and the ceremonial opening of this year’s assembly of bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Regrettably, this is not the first occasion that entry has been denied to our Patriarch and his visit to the Patriarchate of Peć, the ancient historical seat of our Church and the 800-year-old home of Serbian Orthodox archbishops and patriarchs, has been obstructed. Patriarch Porfirije and our bishops were eagerly awaited by the faithful, who saw the commencement of the Holy Assembly of Bishops at the Patriarchate of Peć as a strong support of the Church in our efforts to persevere in this tegion during challenging times.

The religious rights and freedoms needed by our people and Church in Kosovo and Metohija are universal rights expected in any society that wishes to rest on the rule of law. The hindrance to freedom of religious gatherings, the lack of freedom of movement for religious dignitaries, and their right to pastoral work further highlight the alarmingly difficult situation in which our people and their Church live in this region.

The Diocese of Raška-Prizren emphasizes that the primary goal of the Serbian Orthodox Church is the well-being of its faithful and normal coexistence with all people of good will in this region. This message has been consistently conveyed by Serbian Patriarch Porfirije during his visits to Kosovo and Metohija or when speaking about the region, always emphasizing that all people should live in peace and mutual respect.