The Serbian Orthodox Church is attempting to shed its past image as a stronghold of nationalism and foster interfaith and ecumenical dialogue.
At a mid-June New York conference RW attended, Boris Milosavljevic, Yugoslavian Deputy Secretary of Religious Affairs, and Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montanegro and the Littoral spoke of plans to hold an interfaith conference next year that would bring together all of the religious leaders in the Balkans. The conference will issue a common statement on religious and ethnic tolerance. “The Serbian Orthodox Church is good-willed and very tolerant in working with other faith-based groups. The precondition [for participating in the conference] is faith for true dialogue,” Milosavljevic said.
Although 120 monasteries and churches in Serbia have been destroyed by the Kosovo Muslims in revenge for Serbian actions during the war, Metropolitan Amfilohije said the church is calling for Serbians to opt for “justice rather than vengeance.” Meanwhile, The Tablet magazine of Britain (May 25) reports that the Serbian church has agreed to reopen ties with the Vatican more than a decade after the outbreak of way in the Balkans. The magazine reports that interreligious councils have emerged in Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia since the war, and that the Serbian Orthodox now cooperate with Yugoslavia’s Catholic minority in charity work.
In explaining his church’s new ecumenical approach, Bishop Lavrentije of Sabvac-Valjeva borrowed language from Pope John Paul II, saying “Europe must breathe with both lungs, West and East, since both are needed to sustain life here.”
(The Tablet, 1 King St., Cloisters, Clifton Walk, London, W6 0Q2 UK)