Kosovo authorities refuse entrance to Patriarch Porfirije, Assembly of Bishops forced to meet in Belgrade instead

Priština, Kosovo, May 15, 2024

Photo: spc.rs Photo: spc.rs     

The Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church was scheduled to begin its regular session on Monday at the ancient Patriarchate of Peć in Kosovo.

However, His Holiness Patriarch Porfirije and seven other hierarchs were stopped at the administrative crossing in Merdare and informed that they were not permitted to enter Kosovo, though without explanation, reports the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Such a decision is “unreasonable and unacceptable,” though “it accurately reflects the situation of the Serbian Church and people in Kosovo and Metohija,” the Church writes.

This is not the first time that Kosovo authorities have shut their doors to the Patriarch. The same thing happened in late December 2022, though the authorities soon relented and allowed him to celebrate Nativity with his Kosovo flock two weeks later.

“All the doors of this world stand open to me, just as ours are open to all. Yet the doors of my own home, the Patriarchate of Peć, remain closed by those who are denying me entry,” His Holiness said in a statement after the incident.

He continued:

As the Serbian Patriarch, as a citizen, and as a believer, I know and affirm that those doors will sooner or later be opened by God Himself. Those who have shut the doors of the house of prayer are doing evil first to themselves, and then to all people. They have shut the doors to every good, blessing, and happiness. When the Serbian Patriarch is deprived of freedom of movement like this, one can only wonder what happens to the Serbs who live in ghettos? To them, I say: endure, because whoever endures to the end shall be saved. If they have closed the doors of the Patriarchate of Peć for the Serbian Patriarch, they surely cannot limit our love and our good intentions. It is certain that for us, especially on Kosovo and Metohija, the heavens are open and they will open all the doors that evil has closed.

The Bishops’ Assembly is thus being held in Belgrade. It opened yesterday, May 14, with the Divine Liturgy at the Church of St. Sava. The gathered hierarchs issued a statement condemning the “complete lawlessness” of the Kosovo authorities. However, what happened to the Patriarch pales in comparison to what the Serbian people of Kosovo face every day, the hierarchs lament.

The Assembly points out to all international actors that with this and similar actions, the Priština authorities brazenly flout all conventions and standards for human rights. “We also invite the Orthodox and the entire Christian world and its spiritual leaders to stand up for the respect of our religious rights through prayer and other means,” the hierarchs implore.

The statement concludes:

The Holy Council of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church headed by His Holiness the Serbian Patriarch Porfirije appeals to the international authorities in Kosovo and Metohija to do everything in their power to stop the flagrant violation of human rights and basic freedoms of the Serbian people. The Serbian Patriarch and the archbishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church remain with their people in Kosovo and Metohija.

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