Kraljevo, Serbia, March 28, 2022
“We have gathered today to offer a prayer, to give a worthy commemoration to all the victims and to heal the wounds inflicted by organized inhumanity, wounds that were the consequence of magnum crimen—the great crime against our Serbian Orthodox people in 1999,” His Holiness Porfirije, the Serbian Patriarch, said at a mourning event on Thursday.
Such events dedicated to the beginning of the NATO aggression on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia were held throughout Serbia on March 24. NATO carried out a bombing campaign from March 24 to June 10, 1999, until Yugoslavia agreed to the withdraw of its troops from Kosovo and the establishment of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo. Hundreds died in the attacks.
Pat. Porfirije led memorial prayers for all those who suffered in the attacks and spoke at one of the central demonstrations, held on the Square of Serbian Soldiers in the city of Kraljevo, the Serbian Orthodox Church reports.
His Holiness said:
It’s an indisputable fact that at that time 19 states participated in this crime of Cain, the bombing, the destruction of our people and our country, the ruin accompanied by media fabrications, corrupt truths and lies, the spread of slander about us, about our Church, about our people. We were faced then with an unscrupulous evil, with a force that both then and always doesn’t take into account law and truth. The only criteria were and remained power and strength. We faced an evil then before which the mind stops, before which we remain mute, without words.
The Patriarch stressed the special need for fervent prayer in order to overcome the consequences of the atrocities committed. “Prayer is our inspiration for action and creation. Therefore, we pray not only for our brothers and sisters who suffered during the NATO aggression against Serbia, but we also pray for everyone who is suffering now, wherever it is,” he said, noting that the Church prays for an end to all confrontation and bloodshed all over the world, including in Ukraine, the Middle East, and Africa.
“Our suffering mustn’t manifest itself as malice; it must turn into a force for witnessing truth, justice, love, and peace, a force for forgiveness and repentance,” His Holiness encouraged.
At last year’s event, Pat. Porfirije suggested that many of the victims can and should be added to the Church calendar, and the faithful should pray to them as saints.