Belgrade, March 26, 2021
The names of many of the victims of the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia can and should be added to the Church calendar, and the faithful should pray to them, whose names God has surely entered in the Book of Life, His Holiness Patriarch Porfirije believes.
Commemorative events were held throughout Serbia this week to mark the 78 days of bombing that began on March 24, 1999. The bombings killed more than 500 civilians in more than 90 separate incidents and destroyed infrastructure and businesses. An evening of remembrance was held at the St. Sava Center in Belgrade, in which the Patriarch participated to pay tribute to the victims of the NATO aggression, reports Pravoslavie.ru.
In his address, the Patriarch commemorated both the innocent civilians and the soldiers who gave their lives:
First of all, we will remember and pray for the innocent victims, and our victims are innocent, because our people, and this is now clear to the whole world, defended themselves against aggression. Let us also remember our soldiers and policemen, the heroes of Košare, Paštrik, and other battlefields; our heavenly knights—pilots, then innocent citizens—victims of cluster bombs in Niš and throughout Kosovo, Metohija, and Montenegro. Let us remember those who died on the passenger train in the Grdelica Gorge, those who died in the streets and squares of our cities, in factories, hospitals, on television, and let us remember the children who died...
And the Orthodox faithful should not only pray for them, but also to them, the Patriarch stressed: “We remember everyone, we pray for everyone, and I am sure that we need to pray to them, because God has written them in the book of eternity, the Book of Eternal Life, and the names of many victims in these 78 days can and should be written in the calendar of the Orthodox Church.”
The whole of the Serbian people showed a special Christian trait during the bombing, Pat. Porfirije said. “In those days, we shared everything we needed and everything we had,” His Holiness said, praising the Serbian trait of solidarity and Christian love for one’s neighbor.
“They say the Serbian people, especially after 1945, lost their Christian characteristics. But I am certain and I say: During those 78 days of the bombing, we all witnessed the deepest Christian love and solidarity of our people, fulfilling the commandment: Love thy neighbor!” the Serbian primate exclaimed.
The Serbian people have always been saved during hard trials by a Christian outlook on life and Christian love, as taught them by St. Sava and all the Serbian saints, the Patriarch said.