The communique of the Holy Assembly of Bishops
In the church of the Holy Prince Lazar, in the crypt of the Cathedral of Saint Sava in Belgrade, a regular session of the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church was held, from May 24 to 29, 2021, under the chairmanship of His Holiness Porfirije, Serbian Patriarch, and with the participation of all diocesan hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church, while Bishop Lavrentije of Sabac did not stay until the end of the session. The Assembly began its session with the service of the Holy Liturgy with the invocation of the Holy Spirit in the Cathedral of Saint Sava on the feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius, on May 24 this year.
The Assembly is pleased to note that this year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the American-Canadian Diocese, the first diocese of our Church on the American continent, the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Archbishopric of Belgrade-Karlovci, and the 60th anniversary of the birth of St. Nicholas (Velimirovic, sixty five years since his demise and thirty years since the transfer of his relics from Libertyville (USA) to his native Lelic near Valjevo. The Assembly recommends to all dioceses of the Serbian Orthodox Church to mark these important anniversaries in a dignified manner.
The Assembly considered with due care and attention the phenomena that endanger, and in some cases violate the unity of the Orthodox Church. The report of the Committee for Jasenovac of the Holy Assembly of Bishops was taken into account with the same attention, and at the same time the problems of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Serbia and in the countries of the region, as well as in the diaspora around the world, were considered. In that context, special attention is paid to the condition of our Church and the position of the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija, where injustices, pressures and violence against the Serbian people and endangering the identity, freedom, rights and property of the Serbian Orthodox Church continue, unfortunately, in a heavier form. The Assembly also faced the challenges that our Church and people faced in Montenegro, where the new government avoids signing the already agreed Fundamental Agreement between the Serbian Orthodox Church and the state of Montenegro, which discriminates against the Serbian Orthodox Church in relation to all other Churches and religious communities operating in Montenegro.
As every year, the Assembly carefully analyzed the situation and problems of church education and religious instruction in public schools in Serbia.
The Assembly repealed the earlier decision of the Assembly on the establishment of episcopal councils in various ecclesiastical areas, given that these councils were established as temporary advisory church bodies during the extraordinary circumstances and the impossibility of meeting our bishops in the war conditions, and today, thank God, there are no longer any obstacles to regular meetings and cooperation between our archbishops in its entire canonical area.
The Assembly expresses its deep concern over the emergence of new draft laws, even laws passed hastily, without proper preparation and sufficient public debate and without dialogue with Churches and religious communities, although these draft laws and laws directly affect them, with the threat of restriction or even repeal. the right of Churches and religious communities to freely profess their religion, which is contrary to the Constitution of Serbia and binding international conventions.
The Assembly also considers it unacceptable that the draft law on cultural heritage limits its validity to only a part of the territory of Serbia, because it excludes the territory of Kosovo and Metohija from its scope, although the largest Serbian shrines and the most important Serbian cultural monuments are located there.
The Assembly filled vacant dioceses. The current Bishop Joanikije (Micovic) of Budva-Niksic was elected Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral; the current Vicar Bishop Metodije (Ostojic) of Dioclea, was elected Bishop of Budimlje-Niksic, the current Vicar Bishop Isihije (Rogic) of Mohacs, was elected Bishop of Valjevo, The following were elected vicar bishops of the Serbian Patriarch: hieromonk Jerotej (Petrovic), a brother of the Holy Archangels Monastery in Kovilj with the title of Bishop of Toplica; hieromonk Sava (Bundalo), a brother of the monastery of St. Petka in Zagreb, with the title Bishop of Marca; and Archimandrite Justin (Jeremic), with the title of Bishop of Hvosno. Archimandrite Damaskin (Grabez) was elected Vicar Bishop to the Bishop of Backa, with the title Bishop of Mohacs, and Archimandrite Jovan (Stanojevic) was elected Vicar Bishop to the Bishop of Dusseldorf and All Germany with the title Bishop of Hum.
In the Holy Synod, the mandate of the bishops Irinej of Backa and Jovan of Sumadija was finished, and they remain deputy members, while new members were elected, by suggestion of Serbian Patriarch Porfirije were elected as new members, at the suggestion of the Serbian Patriarch Mr. Porphyry, bishops of Srem Vasilije and Mr. Zvornik-Tuzla Photius.
The term has ended in the Holy Synod for the following members: Irinej of Backa and Bishop Jovan of Sumadija, who remain as alternates. Per the suggestion of Serbian Patriarch Porfirije elected in their place are Bishop Vasilije of Srem and Fotije of Zvornik-Tuzla.
Submitted by Bishop of Backa Irinej
Spokesman of the Serbian Orthodox Church