Saturday, May 28, 2011

Serbian Orthodox Holy Assembly Elects New Bishops, Reorganizes Dioceses

The session of the Holy Assembly of Bishops in Belgrade has come to a close. The session, which included all the diocesan hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the autonomous Macedonian Orthodox Church, took a number of decisions regarding the life of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

To care for vacant dioceses the Holy Assembly elected an auxiliary to the Metropolitan of Cetinje, Bishop Jovan of Diocleia, as Bishop of Nish (the former cathedra of the current patriarch) and Hierodeacon David (Perovic) was elected bishop of the newly established diocese of Krusevac. It also elected Protosyngellus Jovan (Culibrk) and Archimandrite Andrej (Cilerdzic) as patriarchal auxiliaries as the Bishops of Lipljan and Remezijane respectively.

Vis-a-vis the dioceses it established during its recent session the Holy Assembly appointed Bishop Irinej of Bachka as administrator of the new Diocese of Vienna and southern Europe and Metropolitan Amfilohije of Cetinje as administrator of the new Diocese of Buenos Aires and Latin America. In North America the Holy Assembly suppressed the Metropolitanate of Libertyville, designating St. Sava's Monastery in Libertyville as a stavropeghial institution and merging the other parishes of the Metropolitanate with the Diocese of Nova Grachanitsa and Midwestern America.

The Holy Assembly had been expected to divide the Archdiocese of Belgrade (the current seat of the Pech Patriarchate) and Sremski Karlovci (the former seat of the first hierarchs of the Orthodox Church in Austria-Hungary) as well as the Diocese of Raska (a city in southern Serbia) and Prizren (the capital of Kosovo), but given current conditions it delayed a decision on the creation of new dioceses out of the existing diocesan structures.

Considering the issues existing between the Serbian Orthodox Church and state authorities in neighboring Macedonia and Montenegro the Holy Assembly expressed its regret that the Macedonian and Montenegrin governments continued to interfere in the internal life of the Orthodox Churches in their countries and violated the human rights and freedom of their citizens. It also noted with sadness the ongoing challenges facing the Serb nation in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo and in particular the latter's failure to allow its Serb residents to return to their homes.

Regarding the uncanonical intrusions of the Romanian Orthodox Church into eastern Serbia the Holy Assembly agreed that appropriate canonical and legal measures would have to be taken if the Bucharest Patriarchate refused to stop violating the canonical order and sacred unity of the worldwide Orthodox Church.

Responding to the request of Metropolitan Nikolaj (Mrda) of Sarajevo and Bosnia for retirement the Holy Assembly decided to instead releave Metropolitan Nikolaj of his day-to-day duties and appoint Bishop Grigorije (Duric) of Mostar and Herzegovina as administrator of the Metropolitanate.

More (in Serbian) on the Holy Assembly's deliberations and decisions can be found here.

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