News From Around the Orthodox World
• Belgrade, Serbia
A recent article by Anes Alic on a Sarajevo-based website ISAIntel states that during the first week of July “.... the Belgrade Prosecutor’s Office sent a request for the extension of an investigation against the former bishop of Kosovo, Artemije and three other Serbian Orthodox officials for financial embezzlement and misuse of office."
“Along with Artemije, Simeon Vilovski, former abbot of the Banjska Monastery, Rade Suboticki and Jelena Subarevic Rade Neimar construction company are suspected of causing hundreds of thousands of euros in losses to the Serbian Orthodox Church.
Rade Neimar was a construction firm engaged in the reconstruction of monasteries destroyed during the March 2004 riots that swept Kosovo. Though not formally listed in an ownership position the former bishop, Artemije is believed to control the construction company through intermediaries..."
The story continues:
"The former Abbot, Vilovski, is one of the company’s managers, and is believed to have received some €7,000 to fund his pension and €2,040 per month to rent an apartment in Thessalonika, Greece, Vilovski was arrested in Greece in March 2010.
Suboticki was arrested in April 2010 by Serbian police on suspicion of embezzling €300,000 intended for the reconstruction of monasteries in Kosovo between 2004 and 2009.
The retired bishop, Artemije is embroiled in an internal conflict with the Serbian Church and claims there is an element of political motivation behind the charges. Additionally, commentators on the scandal point out that it is possible that the Church leadership had long known, but tolerated, Artemije’s dubious business activities.
Artemije is considered to be a nationalist hard-liner, fiercely critical of the international community’s actions in Kosovo, which most Serbs regard as an integral part of their country and whose independence they do not recognize.
Relations between the Church and Artemije worsened in May, when the Synod moved to retire this most influential bishop. For his part, Artemije has rejected the charges against him, claiming that the church evicted him from Kosovo because of his stance on non- cooperation with ethnic Albanians and the international community.
Bishop Artemije was fiercely opposed to cooperation with Kosovo authorities and the international community, particularly regarding the reconstruction of ruined monasteries and churches, saying that the sacred objects could not be rebuilt by the same forces that destroyed them.
Artemije attempted to sue several Western European countries through the European Court of Human Rights for failing to protect Serbian sacred sites during the March 2004 clashes between ethnic Albanians and Serbs. During those two days of strife 35 monasteries and churches were completely destroyed. Despite his efforts, Serbian church authorities withdrew the lawsuit.”
• Kiev, Ukraine
A well-known Ukrainian Church analyst and political scientist has caused a furor by suggesting that the Patriarch of Moscow, who is in Kiev this week, may decide to invalidate the recently adopted Statute of Moscow's Ukrainian Church." According to Taras Berezovets, quoted on the Portal-Credo.ru site, Patriarch Kyrill may insist on rewriting the “overly independent” new statute of the UOC-MP, as approved by the Local Council of the Church on July 8. In so doing he may also “... try to replace the head of the UOC-MP Metropolitan Vladimir (Sabodan), whose associates,” Berezovets sugggests, “... are leading towards an autocephalous Ukrainian Church and breaking canonical ties with Moscow.”
“It is possible that Kirill will exercise his right not to accept this Statute.” said Berezovets. “ Then there will be escalation of the conflict -- up to the removal of Vladimir.” Whatever happens this week, “Those who (are trying) to create one united local church, will now become more insistent,” predicts Berezovets.
• Kuopio, Finland
Two competing proposals have been put forth to the Finnish Church Assembly to be held this Autumn. The first is a proposal to abandon the initiative, adopted by an earlier Church Assembly in 1980, for the Church of Finland to investigate becoming an autocephalous, rather than an autonomous Church. The proposal “Not to investigate any further” is in response to concerns about the financial costs of going forward with the idea. The second proposal re-affirms the process of “investigating autocephaly” so as to determine more fully what it would mean for the Church of Finland if their canonical basis was changed. The recent decisions at Chambesy have now made the long-discussed option a real possibility according to supporters of the second proposal.
• Nice, France
A Russian delegation headed by Vladimir Kozhin, Head of the Presidential Property Management Department of the Russian Federation, arrived in Nice on July 9th for talks with the administration of Saint Nicholas cathedral, which is in the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches of Western Europe (Exarchate of the Ecumenical Patriarch). Mr Kozhin conveyed to the parish council that the Russian state, who on May 19th won its long-standing lawsuit against the parish concerning ownership of Saint Nicholas cathedral, will transfer its rights to Saint Nicholas cathedral to the Moscow Patriarchate - without charge. Upon his return to Moscow Mr Kozhin stated he would meet with Patriarch Kirill and hand over all responsibility for dealing with this matter further to the Russian Church.
Protopresbyter Fr. John Geit, dean of Saint Nicholas parish, told Mr Kozhin that all further negotiations should be conducted with the administration of the Archdiocese.
The Russian St. Nicholas Cathedral in Nice, the largest Orthodox Church building in Europe outside of Russia, was consecrated in by Tsar Nicholas II in 1912. Ownership has been in dispute for decades. The long-standing ecclesiological division between those Russians favoring Moscow and those favoring Constantinople has been exacerbated in recent decades by fresh divisions between those of the post-revolution emigration, both pro and anti-Moscow, and a massive influx of “New Russians” on the French Riviera, the origins of whose wealth is suspect.
• Sitka, Alaska
In a letter dated July 25th to the Clergy of the Diocese of Alaska Bishop Benjamin announced the Diocesan Assembly will be held on November 7th in Anchorage, after the All American Council, rather than before it as previously planned. The Bishop writes:
“Recognizing the requirement for the Diocese of Alaska to hold an Assembly for the year 2011 and desiring to keep travel costs down, I am scheduling the Diocesan Assembly for November 7, beginning at 11:00 a.m. at St. Innocent Cathedral, Anchorage. This will allow those going to the All-American Council to attend the Assembly as part of their return trip home and still allowing those who are unable to travel to Seattle to participate in an Assembly as usual. Thought had been given to holding the Assembly in Seattle. There was, however, concern that such an Assembly at that time and place might make lay participation difficult for many.”
Bishop of San Francisco
Locum tenens of the Diocese of Alaska”
The previous plans were thrown into turmoil when the episcopal candidate supported by a majority of the deaneries was not approved, at this time, by the Synod -- causing the episcopal selection process and previous Assembly plans to be abrogated.
• Minot ND
The parish blog of Holy Resurrection parish in Fargo ND has been running updates and photos from its sister parish in Minot, just now emerging from the flood. See the photos and read about their situation at
Bishop Matthias of Chicago has asked for donations to assist the parish and flood victims. Donations may be made to the Midwest diocesean chancery directly.
• Lima, OH
A unique conference, designed to provide Orthodox Christians with new resources, perspectives and understanding on the complex topic of Islam, both to educate as well as to equip the faithful to engage with Muslims they meet, with the goal of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ, will be held at Saint Stephen the First Martyr Orthodox Mission on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, August 19th - 21st in Lima, OH.
Entitled “Orthodoxy and Islam: Crisis and Opportunity” the conference will feature the following speakers:
• Fr. Daniel Byantoro, founder of the Indonesian Orthodox Church, author and convert from Islam
• Raymond Ibrahim, author of “The Al Queda Reader: The Essential Texts of Osama Bin Laden’s Terrorist Organization,” Assoc. Director of the Middle East Forum
• Anthony Davar, convert from Islam and Orthodox writer/missionary
• Ralph Sidway, author of “Facing Islam”
A requested donation of $20 per person ($30 per family) includes refreshments Friday, and lunch Saturday and Sunday. To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org
• New York, NY
Two fascinating interviews with two contemporary Orthodox writers concerning their new books have been conducted by Professor Adam DeVille of the University of St. Francis. You can read the interview with Fr. Michael Plekon, here:
and with Bishop Seraphim (Sigrist) here: