OPEN APPEAL FOR THE REINSTATEMENT OFHIS GRACE, BISHOP ARTEMIJE OF RAS AND PRIZREN AND KOSOVO AND MET

  • by: James George Jatras
  • target: His Holiness, Patriarch IRINEJ, and to the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church

We, the undersigned, address ourselves to His Holiness, Patriarch IRINEJ, and to the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church.   We respectfully but insistently declare our dismay over the unjustified suspension of His Grace, Bishop ARTEMIJE, from his governance of the Diocese of Ras and Prizren and Kosovo and Metohija and call for immediate restoration of his full authority. There can be little doubt as to why this action has been taken now.  Indications have been growing for some time that the western powers, notably Washington, having been frustrated in their desire to “finish the job” in the Balkans, notably in Kosovo and Metohija, have decided to remove the person who, more anyone else, has been the insurmountable obstacle to that goal.  Nothing in that is surprising in light of western policies during the past two decades.  But far worse even than the current attack itself is the knowledge that the outrages against Vladika Artemije have been perpetrated by his own: by persons acting in the name of the Holy Synod and of the Orthodox Church of Serbia.   Today, no one remembers the persecutors of Saint John Chrysostom, who three times sent him into cruel exile, from the last of which he did not return alive.  Our appeal is imperative less for Vladika Artemije, whose legacy already is secured, than for the sacred dignity of the Holy Synod itself, of the Serbian Orthodox Church, and of the Serbian people. 

We declare our full support for Vladika Artemije and urgently appeal to His Holiness, Patriarch Irinej, and to all members of the Holy Synod, that they take immediate action to stop the inhumane process against Vladika Artemije and fully reinstate him.  



OPEN APPEAL FOR THE REINSTATEMENT OF


HIS GRACE, BISHOP ARTEMIJE OF RAS AND PRIZREN AND KOSOVO AND METOHIJA



First week of Great Lent, 2010



We, the undersigned, address ourselves to His Holiness, Patriarch IRINEJ, and to the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church.   We respectfully but insistently declare our dismay over the unjustified suspension of His Grace, Bishop ARTEMIJE, from his governance of the Diocese of Ras and Prizren and Kosovo and Metohija and call for immediate restoration of his full authority.



News of Vladika Artemije%u2019s removal has been met with universal shock and sadness, not limited to those of the Orthodox faith or Serbian nationality but including all friends of the Serbian people and supporters of justice.   Vladika Artemije is renowned as the authentic and true embodiment of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian people in the struggle to find a peaceful and just solution to the crises that began even before the war that was launched on Serbia in 1999.   Since that time and continuing to the present day, Vladika Artemije, with firmness and humility, has been tireless in his efforts to meet with friend and foe alike, travelling countless miles and knocking on innumerable doors, to bear true witness of the sufferings of the Christian Serbian people and Church in the Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija.   Whether in the United States or in Europe, at the United Nations or in Russia, with government officials or private citizens, with media, academia, think tanks, legislatures, or government departments and agencies, with people of all faiths and nationalities, Vladika Artemije always has openly and boldly, but peacefully and gently, championed the truth about the monstrous and destructive nature of the policies of the western governments concerning Kosovo and Metohija.   Many of his interlocutors have not agreed with his views, and many others have.  But all have concurred in their great respect for his commitment to genuine peace and understanding, his love and care for his tormented flock, and his unshakeable defense of the Orthodox Christian faith. 



It is incomprehensible, then, to see exhibited before the whole world the dismal spectacle of the unwarranted and inhumane treatment of Vladika Artemije, even stooping to the level of an invasion of his residence at the Gracanica Monastery under the %u201Cauthority%u201D of foreign troops in United Nations uniform %u2013 and even so-called %u201Cpolice%u201D of the separatist, terrorist Albanian Muslim administration! %u2013 and placing him under virtual house arrest.   To take such actions against any human being, much less a Bishop and shepherd of a persecuted flock, shocks the civilized conscience in its callous and cynical contempt for due process of law and fundamental fairness.  



There can be little doubt as to why this action has been taken now.  Indications have been growing for some time that the western powers, notably Washington, having been frustrated in their desire to %u201Cfinish the job%u201D in the Balkans, notably in Kosovo and Metohija, have decided to remove the person who, more anyone else, has been the insurmountable obstacle to that goal.    According to reliable information, last month at a meeting in Kosovo and Metohija hosted by KFOR (i.e., NATO), the situation in the province following Vladika Artemije%u2019s anticipated removal already was under discussion.  While Serbia%u2019s official state policy in defense of Kosovo and Metohija could %u2013 and should %u2013 have been stronger than it has been, the efforts of the powers illegally trying to detach the province from Serbia and empower as a %u201Cgovernment%u201D the criminal conspiracy of Agim Ceku, Hashim Thaci, Ramush Haradinaj, and their ilk have fallen far short of their expectations some two years after the illegal and void declaration of %u201Cindependence%u201D in February 2008.   In large part due to Vladika Artemije%u2019s hard work, the strong majority of the world community %u2013 including Russia, China, India, Spain, Greece, Slovakia, Cyprus, Romania,  Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, Egypt, Israel, Algeria, Argentina, Mexico, Pakistan, Morocco, Ethiopia, Ukraine, Venezuela, and many, many others %u2013 has supported Serbia%u2019s legal and moral case in preservation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.   Despite repeated efforts, the so-called EULEX mission has failed to insert its presence into northern Kosovo and Metohija or even to establish its authority in the province apart from a legal mandate under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244.   Attempt by the separatist administration in Pristina to shut down so-called %u201Cparallel institutions%u201D in the province (in reality, the legitimate state bodies of the Republic of Serbia) have failed, even with Belgrade%u2019s meager support for those same institutions.  We take note of the following:




  • Vladika Artemije%u2019s sharp rebuff of the visit last year to the Pec Patriarchate and Decani Monastery of U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden; Mr. Biden has long been one of the most radical advocates of violence against Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in the Krajinas, and his presence at Pec and Decani was as welcome and appropriate as would be that of Osama bin Laden to the former site of the World Trade Center;



  • The extraordinary assembly held in Kosovska Mitrovica early this month, with Vladika Artemije%u2019s blessing, to strengthen the unity of Serbs in the province in defense of their legal institutions;



  • The unwarranted threat, contrary to all diplomatic custom, by the foreign ministries of the United States, Britain, Germany, France, and Italy to Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic that he must %u201Ccool down%u201D his rhetoric on Kosovo and Metohija in anticipation of the advisory opinion expected soon from the International Court of Justice; evidently, for the Western powers, even verbal defense of Serbia%u2019s territorial integrity is now entirely unacceptable; and



  • Washington%u2019s continuing frustration at the inability to smother Republika Srpska Prime Minister Milorad Dodik%u2019s assertions of his Republic%u2019s rights under the Dayton agreement.


In short, despite only pro forma resistance from Belgrade, the program of destroying Serbia and the Serbian Church is not proceeding as planned.  So it then has become necessary to first destroy Vladika Artemije, their most visible and effective voice.  Nothing in that is surprising in light of western policies during the past two decades.  But far worse even than the current attack itself is the knowledge that the outrages against Vladika Artemije have been perpetrated by his own: by persons acting in the name of the Holy Synod and of the Orthodox Church of Serbia.  



For the purposes of this appeal we do not go into the substance of the unbelievable accusations against Vladika Artemije except to say that the allegations are old ones that have long since been addressed with the Holy Synod.  Any relevant information which his accusers have in their possession, let them release.  The fact that they do not do so itself speaks volumes. 



But more to the issue, what greater dismay can there be than seeing that as soon as His Holiness, Patriarch PAVLE, of blessed memory, was safely out of the way, that Vladika Artemije%u2019s detractors in Serbia %u2013 including, it is shameful to say, even members of the Holy Synod itself! %u2013 saw the way clear to acting on behalf of their foreign masters.   In particular, it must be known that Vladika Artemije has been delivered to what amounts to a lynch mob headed by certain bishops (their names are well known and need not be stated here) who, based on personal ambition or doctrinal agendas, have long harbored resentments against Vladika Artemije and now believe they have an opportunity to destroy him.   No one, especially in Serbia, should think it is possible to avert their eyes from what is being done to Vladika Artemije, and to the monks and nuns defending him, to act as if the intended result is not elimination of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, and to imagine those responsible will be rewarded for their treachery.  Those responsible for the outrages against Vladika Artemije should take note of the fate of Biljana Plavsic and even Slobodan Milosevic, who, after having meekly accepted what was demanded by the West were put on trial when they had outlived their usefulness. 



Accordingly, in light of all that has been related above, we declare our full support for Vladika Artemije and urgently appeal to His Holiness, Patriarch Irinej, and to all members of the Holy Synod, that they take immediate action to stop the inhumane process against Vladika Artemije and fully reinstate him.  



Today, no one remembers the persecutors of Saint John Chrysostom, who three times sent him into cruel exile, from the last of which he did not return alive.  Our appeal is imperative less for Vladika Artemije, whose legacy already is secured, than for the sacred dignity of the Holy Synod itself, of the Serbian Orthodox Church, and of the Serbian people.


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