Statement regarding the new petition by self-praising, renegade monks, supporters of the para synagogue of “the followers of Artemije”

Dear readers,

Although during these bright days of the Pentecost the Church of Christ lives and experiences the continual joy of the Risen Christ, we cannot fail to address the attempts of a sad group of monks who are renegades from the church order persistently trying through the media, anti-church sites, in the streets (through various petitions and interceptions of passers-by) to promote disorder and lack of order within the Serbian Orthodox Church. The main goal of this group is to bring to the bench of the accused His Beatitude the Serbian Patriarch, who as the chair of the Holy Synod of Bishops and the Holy Assembly of Bishops signed the decision on the temporary removal from administrative duties of Bishop Artemije of Raška and Prizren, and together with the Patriarch, the entire Synod and Assembly of the Serbian Orthodox Church, who for years has been attempting to rectify non-canonical activities in the Diocese of Raška and Prizren, because they have led to a series of financial abuses by people who were granted unlimited authority and power by the competent Bishop. The role of monasticism in the Church of Christ has always served the function of strengthening the liturgical-communal spirit of the ecclesiastical community, but there have been cases where certain monks and groups were initiators of schism and even heresy, tearing asunder the Shroud of Christ and the unity of the Church. Although communal mechanisms exist within the Church to solve all problems, including the present one in the Diocese of Raška and Prizren, we are witness to the use of methods that are not appropriate to Christians, and certainly not monks, who frequently present themselves as “great spiritual leaders” even though they are a kind of guru who gather ashrams of their fanaticized followers, disrupt religious services and separate themselves from the fullness of the Church. Fortunately, the Diocese of Raška and Prizren is comprised of tens of thousands of faithful with their parish priests, the monks and nuns of our biggest monasteries, who through their regular participation in religious services and the life of the Church and community with the competent Bishop give living support to the Church and the canonical order. Thus, with the blessing of His Grace Bishop Atanasije, the administrator of the Diocese, we are attaching the full text of the Statement regarding this new petition in a series of petitions and appeals by “monks” whose aim is to resolve church issues in the streets and through slander, instead of in the spirit of love, community and church order.

From the Office of the Diocese of Raška-Prizren and Kosovo-Prizren
Prizren-Gračanica 21 April 2010

The text of the Communique is following:


On the new petition by self-praising, renegade monks, supporters of the para synagogue
of “the followers of Artemije”

On the website of the renegade in schism Crna Reka Monastery – as well as on the false “website of the Diocese of Raška and Prizren” and, as usual, in some of the mass media – the text of a new “petition to the Holy Assembly of Bishops” has appeared, which does not mention the previous petition, written by the same rebel monks (but in a much more reckless and anti-church manner, which has now been somewhat ameliorated), where, at the end, they refer to the alleged signatures of “one hundred and five monks and nuns from fourteen monasteries”, while the petition itself includes mostly signatures of male and female novices.

When one looks carefully, one sees that the whole campaign, “never before existing in the history of the Serbian Orthodox Church” (their coinage), is being conducted by three rebel monasteries: Crna Reka, Holy Archangels near Prizren and Devina Voda. After previous warnings, they have in the meanwhile been placed under canonical epitemia not only because they have arrogantly rejected the decisions of the Patriarch and the Holy Synod of Bishops – which Bishop Artemije himself has acknowledged and accepted (even though he disagrees with them) – but also because they are actively working on confusing and inciting the faithful people in the Diocese and beyond, through various petitions and pamphlets and other secular ways more suitable for sectarians. It is precisely these “spiritual children of Bishop Artemije” (as they call themselves) who are spreading lies that the Patriarch and the leading bishops of the Church are “betraying Orthodoxy” and “changing the faith”, and many other untruths, thus revealing their true spiritual state and secular state of mind. Below the text of the latest petition are also names of monasteries which exist only on paper, one of which – Braina near Medveđa – is a non-canonical monastery (built on the territory of the Diocese of Niš without blessing, and therefore it is unclear to which Diocese it belongs), while most are monasteries with the two or three monks, including novices, most of these originating from Crna Reka Monastery and transmitting from there the spirit of pseudo zealotism.

Some hegumens initially recognized, and then subsequently rejected the decisions of the Holy Synod as “non-canonical and anti-constitutional”. A typical example is hieromonk Stefan from Zočište Monastery: he himself complained of the situation in the Diocese during the administration of Bishop Artemije and asked to move to the Diocese of Niš because of it; now, after His Beatitude the Patriarch did not grant him a canonical reception in the Diocese of Niš, he himself is taking renegade actions. There are other similar cases among these “heroes” who boast of their “ascetic and martyr-like ethos”. Among the drawn signatures of nuns and novices are those who are this no longer. Thus, for example, there are three “signatures” from Gračanica from nuns who left Gračanica in mid-February, moreover, without being released by their abbess and by the Bishop; and three novices removed from the monastery by the abbess of Gračanica for disobedience and a propensity toward unmonastic behavior.

If, therefore, we exclude the hegumens and monks under canonical epitemia, as well as many doctored and non-authentic signatures, barely some thirty, forty at most, signatures remain, and that is one-fifth of the number of monks and nuns in Kosovo and Metohija. However, this “heartfelt appeal” is full of eminently elevated and exaggerated self-praise by these new insolent-frightened “sole advocates” of Orthodoxy (who compare themselves, no more and no less, with the holy hesychasts!), Serbdom and “the Serbian Jerusalem”, i.e. Kosovo (although they mostly occupy strongholds in the North, outside of Kosovo). The administrations, monks and nuns of our most populated and most prominent monasteries, such as Gračanica, Dečani, Sopoćani, Devič and others, are faithful to the church order and are keeping away from such non-church petitions and accusations against their Patriarch and the Synod of their Church.

Our petition-writing brethren would like to denounce Patriarch and the Synod before the Assembly, too, that is, to judge, guided by an “infallibility” of the papal sort (against which they are supposedly fighting but using the same mentality): according to them, “this church destroying act by the Holy Synod was passed under pressure from pro-Western political currents in our country”! In their self-infatuation they see everywhere “hostility toward the monastic act of the fullness of the church”, they foresee “the persecution of monks and nuns”, concluding for themselves and by themselves about “the contortion and fear – of the clergy – before the anger and revenge of the newly appointed administration” (read: Bishop Atanasije, who really knows how to “raise his voice”, i.e. to tell duplicitous and dishonorable people openly, to their faces, that they are what they are, and that they are not what they claim and pretend to be to the naive). Serving as “proof” is just one priest, the dismissed secretary, who writes anonymous letters as “one of the priests” but “does not dare say as much publicly”. These people without character ascribe this cowardly position to Bishop Artemije, too, when they say that he “does not dare publicly say” this or that because he is “imprisoned” (unfortunately, he is able to secretly suggest quite a bit to his “spiritual children”, long trained in subversion, including petitions such as these).

It is shocking that this coddled company, this, relative to the faithful and the priests, manifold, although selective, privileged “aristocracy” in the long-suffering and crucified Diocese of Kosovo and Metohija (these “gentlemen and little lords” call on the “people” only when it is necessary to glorify themselves and their “battle”, which is a real Don Quixote-type battle with the windmills), does not mention a single word regarding the thieving band of canonical offenders surrounding Bishop Artemije for years, which is exactly what led to the situation that resulted in necessary canonical and constitutional decisions by the Holy Synod. If their prompters, the self-styled “canonists”, “analysts” and “experts” for all manner of things – except for the Living Church of the Christ-God and Savior, and the living priests, monks and nuns, and faithful – would carefully read at least two holy canons, Apostolic Canon 12 and Carthaginian Canon 19 (which they all earnestly but ignorantly cite as they write against “the violators of constitutional and canonical norms”), they would see where and with whom lies the real canonical offense, which is not one nor was it made only once, and then at least they would behave a little more soberly, not to mention more calmly, when writing their “heartfelt” yet insolent appeals such as this latest one because the first one, it seems, has failed.

Information Service of the Diocese of Raška-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija
Prizren-Gračanica, 21 April 2010