PRESS RELEASE FROM THE RAŠKA-PRIZREN DIOCESE
The Raška-Prizren Diocese has received with deep concern a statement made by the British Member of Parliament, Ms. Alicia Kerns, published in various media outlets today. During her address in Parliament, Ms. Kearns directly accused the Serbian Orthodox Church, stating:
“…The Government is well aware, with the Fusiliers having only just returned from serving in KFOR, that there are weapons being smuggled across the border from Serbia into Orthodox churches in ambulances. When our troops become aware of that, and try to get permission to go and get them, the permissions take too long. By the time there is permission—quelle surprise—an ambulance has turned up at the church and taken all the weapons out again.”
This represents a highly dangerous accusation which criminalizes the Serbian Orthodox Church and is already being exploited by some Kosovan media with the intention of inciting religious and ethnic hatred. These allegations also pose a direct threat to our clergy, monastics, and religious sites. In response to this, the Raška-Prizren Diocese states the following:
– The Raška-Prizren Diocese (SOC) has clearly opposed any form of violence through its actions and statements over the past thirty years, both before and after the armed conflict in Kosovo and Metohija. Violence is contrary to the fundamental Gospel principles and the Church’s mission. Therefore, we wish to handle this matter with full seriousness and responsibility.
– We insist that the allegations by Ms. Kearns be urgently verified. Therefore, we publicly request, through this statement, that KFOR’s mission, in which the aforementioned British unit (Royal Fusiliers) was deployed, disclose to the public whether they can confirm the allegations of the UK Member of Parliament. It is impossible that UK soldiers in KFOR have this information and not communicate it to their superiors in the KFOR command. If these claims prove to be true, any Church official(s) found to be involved in the alleged misuse of SOC premises and church service for transportation or storage of weapons will face the most severe church penalties and will not be able to continue their public service. However, if KFOR cannot confirm the truth of these claims, the Raška-Prizren Diocese will seek a public apology from the aforementioned Member of Parliament through the British embassy in Pristina, due to her inflammatory and inaccurate allegations which have serious consequences.
The Raška-Prizren Diocese (SOC) does not want the allegations of Ms. Alicia Kearns about the SOC in Kosovo and Metohija to remain at the level of slander and become a tool for imposing collective guilt on our Church. Therefore, these allegations must be verified as soon as possible, and those potentially responsible for any criminal acts or the dissemination of false information must be identified. The public must be informed, as such accusations otherwise constitute an act of spreading religious intolerance and a direct call for violence against our Church, which has been subjected to physical attacks, various slanders, and other forms of discrimination in Kosovo and Metohija for years.