In his traditional Christmas epistle, Patriarch Irinej Gavrilović put special emphasis on the position of Serbs in Kosovo, saying that suffering and injustice persist there. He noted, “Unrest and violence rule in Kosovo and Metohija. For decades and centuries, they’ve robbed us of that province, of historical Old Serbia”. The patriarch wrote his message ahead of Christmas… celebrated by Serbia‘s majority Orthodox believers according to the Orthodox calendar, on 7 January. He said, “To our brothers and sisters in Kosovo and Metohija we say, ‘Be aware that you aren’t alone and forgotten, the entire Serbian nation and justice-loving people of the world are with you’”, calling on Kosovo Serbs to live in peace, harmony, and love, both with each other and with everyone else.
Patriarch Irinej also touched on the position of Serbs in former Yugoslav republics, noting that a campaign against the Cyrillic script is “used as a cover to continue the exile of Serbs from Croatia, to intimidate them, to prevent them from coming back”. He appealed to the Macedonian authorities to immediately release Archbishop Jovan Vraniškovski, head of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Ohrid of the Serbian Orthodox Church, who’s “unjustly held captive, his flock is denied freedom of faith and conscience”. He also urged the international community to prevent further discrimination. Vladyki Irinej also protested incessant “attacks of the authorities in Montenegro on the identity, status, and freedom of the Serbian Orthodox Church, and its attempts to interfere with its internal affairs and canonical structure”. In his epistle, the Patriarch wondered why the ideologues of the schismatic Montenegrin Orthodox Church don’t require a similar thing from Roman Catholics as well, to ask them to move their seat from the Vatican to Montenegro.
3 January 2014