27 March 2007

Serbs remained in Kosovo and Metochia thanks to strong-willed clergy - ruling bishop of the region

INTERFAX (RUSSIAN FEDERATION), 12 January 2007, 13:53


Moscow, January 12, Interfax - Bishop Artemije of Raska-Prizren appreciates the role of clergy in the life of the Orthodox Christians in Kosovo.


'One may say quite openly that some Serbs have not left Kosovo and Metochia and hold on thanks to the strong and firm monks and clergy in Kosovo and Metochia despite unprecedented massacre and ethnic cleansings for the last eight years,' the bishop said in his interviews to Serbian weekly NIN.


He said the process was going on in spite of the fact that the Serbs in the region had been deprived of all human rights, such as the right to live and work, freedom of movement, health protection and education.'


'The Serbian Orthodox Church performs her noble mission at the present hard times like she had performed it for many centuries during which our nation had neither statehood or national institutions,' Bishop Artemije underscored adding that it possible in Kosovo and Metochia thanks to 'many monks and committed clergy.'


He cited statistics saying there are twenty-five monasteries in the Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metochia dioceses. Seventeen monasteries have inhabitants, three are being revived, and five had been destroyed.


As to the restitution to the monasteries in Kosovo and Metochia, the bishop remarked with regret that the Decany monastery was leased, but not given back twenty hectares in 1997 out of eight hundred took by the Communists after Word War II.


According to him, the present Albanian authorities 'contest even this land.' Over five hundred hectares are 'not considered church property.'


'Even the property, which is not much, left to churches and monasteries, has not been used properly for the last eight years because of the dangerous situation in Kosovo and Metochia,' the bishop said.