Response to the slander of pseudo-defenders

“Defending” the Bishop from the Church and the Patriarch

The church-destroying work of a group of people who initially signed as “the spiritual children of Bishop Artemije” and who now sign their texts as “the Information Service of the Diocese of Raška and Prizren during Bishop Artemije’s detention” has gone on for days. Although there always have been and will be individuals of a sectarian mentality, in this case what is indicative is that the name of a SOC Diocese continues to be used illegally and that open attacks are being made on the spiritual and moral integrity of the Serbian Patriarch and the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops, whose photos are being published with captions such as “Outlaws” or “the Synod of Shame”. Unfortunately, these zealots of hatred who consider themselves to be “the defenders of Bishop Artemije and his works” are not only working against him but confirming the worst suspicions that the creation of a personality cult in the Diocese of Raška and Prizren among a small number of monks, nuns and faithful has for years served as a building up of the potential for the destruction of the reputation of the Serbian Orthodox Church, thus preparing a schism in the same way as various schismatic and pseudo-Orthodox groups all around the world.

The publication of a letter from Bishop Artemije to His Beatitude Patriarch Irinej of which no one was aware except the person who wrote it and the person who received it until it was published on the pages of a church-destroying website best demonstrates how these methods compromise Bishop Artemije, unless one goes so far as to dare to accuse the Patriarch himself. (Bishop Artemije’s letter to Patriarch Irinej will be answered by Bishop Atanasije but only in the form of a personal letter to the Bishop, precisely because he does not want to damage his reputation like his supposed "defenders".)

Among those “defending” Bishop Artemije are four Serbian Orthodox Church parishes in Australia that have become separated from the Church, which for some time have nurtured close ties with various defrocked priests and sectarians and are spreading discord among the Serbs on that faraway continent. There are also the self-styled “Serbian leaders” such as Marko Jakšić, Milan Ivanović, Dragan Velić and their “Serbian National Council” and “Association of Municipalities”, which exist only on paper. These individuals long ago ceased to represent anyone except themselves; no one can remove them from their positions because they were never elected in the first place. They are also making the rounds of the Bishops – whom they never see in church, of course, as they rarely venture there – in order to advise them, as “well-informed experts”, about the conspiracies of the Pentagon, the Vatican and all the other forces of evil in the world. What is certain is that they will not accomplish anything by doing this that would really help Bishop Artemije. Among the “defenders” are also would be super experts on canon law such as Željko Žugić, Vladimir Dimitrijević and Rodoljub Lazić, who can only preach their pharisaical interpretation of the teachings of the Holy Fathers and the Holy Canons to a small group of like-minded people, unhappy men who build their identity in conflict with the Church and their Bishops, instead of in promoting Liturgical Community with their parishes and dioceses.

When one adds up the entire sum of these exemplary “defenders” of Orthodoxy, the Canons and Bishop Artemije himself, in the end it is quite legitimate to ask, where is the Church and Piety (Ευσέβεια) = Orthodoxy in all this? Is it on the side of the unbridled pseudo-zealots, who curse like sailors while carrying pictures of Bishop Artemije; on the side of Peđa Subotički, who is sitting in prison and of Simeon Vilovski, who is a fugitive from justice and the wrath of the robbed poor people of Kosovo; on the side of the virtual “leaders of the people”; the unrealized theological “geniuses” who could not find time to complete their studies but are now coming to teach religion to the Bishops; different anglers who talk more about everything except Christ, about life in Christ and salvation within the Church as the Body of Christ; or does the truth rest, after all, with the Patriarch, the defender of the communal identity of the Church, with the most eminent Serbian Bishops, the professors of theology, and the monks and nuns of the most spiritually stable Serbian monasteries? It is up the readers of these lines to decide for themselves. Probably Bishop Artemije himself can say in the end: “Woe is me with defenders like these.”

From the Office of the Information Service of the
Diocese of Raška-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija

Prizren-Gračanica, 8 March 2010