Bishop Athanasius (Yevtich) forbidden to participate in a council of the Serbian Orthodox Church

Belgrad, May 17, 2013

Bishop Athanasius (Yevtich), retired Bishop of Zahumlje-Herzegovina, for his anti-government statements has been forbidden to take part in the work of the council of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church that is to begin on May 21, reports, citing the Serbian Politika newspaper.

The order of Patriarch Irenaeus of Serbia not to appear at the council was given to Bishop Athanasius possibly as a disciplinary action for his anti-government speech at the mass meeting in Belgrad that took place on May 10 this year against the so-called Brussels agreement. This agreement, concluded on April 19, 2013, by the prime ministers of Serbia and self-declared Kosovo Ivica Dacic and Hashim Thaci, is devoted to organization of Serbian municipalities in north Kosovo and it de facto recognizes their submission to Pristina's authorities in exchange for continuation of negotiations on Serbia's entry into the EU.

Speaking at the rally, Bishop Athanasius compared Ivica Dacic with the prime minister Zoran Dindic, murdered in 2003 in the assassination plot, saying: "Dacic does not recognise the Heavenly Serbia. The late Djindjic--Heavenly Serbia did not interest him, only the earthly one, and how did he end up? Let God judge". And Metropolitan Amfilohije (Radovic) of Montenegro and the Littoral during his speech at the same rally prayed for repose of the current members of government and the Parliament of Serbia and for forgiveness of all their voluntary and involuntary sins.

These speeches of both Hierarchs have attracted a wide response in Serbian MEDIA. Commenting on them, Patriarch Irenaeus informed that Bishop Athanasius had asked him through intermediaries to allow him to participate in the rally but received no reply while Metropolitan Amfilohije was allowed only to perform a prayer service in the Church. So, in view of the Patriarch, these Hierarchs did not have a blessing to speak in Belgrad.

Although the same Politika newspaper informed earlier that the speeches of these Hierarchs would hardly cause any prohibitions, now it is expected that speeches of Metropolitan Amfilohije and the present Bishop of Zahumlje-Herzegovina , Gregory (Duric), in a program of the Serbian Б92 TV channel will be discussed at the council of Bishops.

At the same time, sources in the Patriarchate add that Bishop Athanasius (Yevtich) has always been famous for his radical views and the Patriarch more than once asked the Hierarchs not to invite him to the council meetings.

Bishop Vasily (Kachavenda) who was removed from the Diocese of Zvornitsko-Tuzla in April this year in charges of corruption and immoral behavior, will not be invited to the council either. So far the main tasks of the meeting of the next council of Bishops have been the following: approval of retirement of Bishob Vasiliy (Kachavenda), and also the question of retirement because of old age of Metropolitans Nikolaj of Dabrobosanska and Constantine of Middle Europe. Also, appointment of three new Hierarchs at least on three Dioceses is to be discussed: the Dioceses of Dabrobosanska (temporarily ruled by Bishop Gregory of Zahumlje-Herzegovina), Zvornicko-Tuzlanska (temporarily ruled by Bishop Jefrem of Banja Luka) and Zica (temporarily ruled by Bishop John of Sumadijska).


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