Sunday, 16 October 2022

Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Visits Vukovar, Prayer for War Victims

October 16, 2022 - The patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Porfiri, called on the Orthodox believers from Vukovar to remember their sacrifices in prayer, but also the sacrifices of their Catholic neighbours because, he said, the one who respects the sacrifice of another is equal to the one who sacrifices himself for another.

As Index writes, he called on the believers to pray for the sacrifices of others. "They are our role models, and those who commit violence against helpless people, whether in war or peace, are worthy of all condemnation and contempt. That is why I invite you today to light a candle for all our suffering Orthodox brothers and sisters, but also to light a candle for all the innocent Roman Catholic Croats who have suffered; let us pray for our brothers and sisters who have suffered, but also for the Roman Catholic Croats who have suffered," urged Porfirije, who served the holy liturgy in the presence of numerous Serbian Orthodox bishops in the Vukovar Cathedral of the Holy Father Nikola, where he consecrated the renovated temple and Parish Hall.

He called on the believers to pray for every sacrifice, for every innocent victim in Vukovar and the city of Vukovar itself because, he said, prayer and Christian forgiveness are the only way to heal all wounds. He asserted that people live in Vukovar whose differences are small and insignificant, there are incomparably more similarities than differences, and the Christian faith brings them together but also binds them.

"When in prayer for our sacrifices, we also remember our martyred neighbours, Catholic Croats, God will rejoice over us," noted the Serbian patriarch.

He said he constantly lights a wax candle in his heart for the victims in Glina, Varivode, Grubori, and other places where Serbs suffered. "In the same way, I pray and light a candle for those who perished at Ovčara, Škabrnja, Lovas, Sotin, and many other places of execution."

"We also pray for all those who disappeared from 1991 to 1995, in the terrible and unfortunate war in these areas, regardless of which nation they belonged to," he said in his address to the believers, inviting them to join him in prayers.

There is no other way but prayer and forgiveness, he asserted. "As children of God, we must not leave it to those who have levers of power from this world to solve the issues of our lives, arrange our mutual relations, past, present and future because," as he said, "at the very least it can be said that the goals of these leverage different from the goals of the Gospel."

At the end of the liturgy, Patriarch Porfirij was presented with the award of the Holy Despot Stefan Štiljanović, patron of the Diocese of Osijekopolska and Baranja. Decorations were also given to other deserving people, including SDSS president Milorad Pupovac and one of the party's founders and longtime president Vojislav Stanimirović.

The Cathedral of Saint Nicholas was built in 1737. On the night between September 18 and 19, 1991, the temple was severely damaged in an explosion. The renovation lasted from 2009 to 2014 and was financed entirely by the Croatian government.

The comments of Vukovar mayor Ivan Penava

As Index further reports, after commemorating the 31st anniversary of the death of Major General Blago Zadro, the mayor of Vukovar Ivan Penava was asked to comment on Patriarch Porfiri's message that it is necessary to pray for all victims from both sides, without distinction. He stated that the call to pay homage to innocently killed victims is a step in the right direction and that he welcomes it, but that the situation in which the Serbian Orthodox Church decided to promote the war criminal Vojislav Šešelj remains unacceptable.

"As a believer, I respect all religious institutions, including the Serbian Orthodox Church, but everyone must be aware that the moment you promote the war criminal Vojislav Šešelj, you close the door and that this is a story that is not welcome in Vukovar, said Penava.

He points out that "he would like Zagreb to become more aware that the story of Vukovar is also the story of Croatia" because he believes that it is not good for Vukovar to always be "on some sort of buffer or advanced position, while everyone else suffers from political correctness."

"If there must be a line below which we do not go, I think that everyone in Croatia will agree that Vojislav Šešelj and the Chetniks are the line that we will never agree to. I hope this attitude is a generally accepted value in Croatia because otherwise today's commemoration of Blago Zadro loses its meaning, said Penava.

He wished the citizens of the Republic of Croatia of Serbian and any other nationality to feel good in the Croatian state, and to respect their religious customs and culture, but that all of this "has nothing to do with Greater Serbian hegemony, aggression against Croatia, pretensions towards other people's territory and all other things which we witnessed 30 years ago".

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Sunday, 5 September 2021

Croatia’s Foreign Ministry Closely Following Developments in Montenegro

ZAGREB, 5 Sept, 2021 - The Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs stated on Sunday that it was closely following the developments in Montenegro, and that it condemned any form of violence.

The ministry calls for dialogue in the search of solutions to the current problems and expressed hope that the latest developments will not have repercussions for the status of ethnic Croatians in that country.

"We expect all political protagonists in Montenegro to solve all the issues facing the Montenegrin society in the European spirit and through inclusive and constructive political dialogue," the ministry said after the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) bishop Joanikije for Montenegro was inaugurated in a monastery in the Montenegrin historical capital of Cetinje despite the days of protests of thousands of Montenegrin patriots.

During the clashes of the police and demonstrators, seven police officers and a score of protesters were injured. The police detained a dozen protesters.

Croatia "condemns any form of violence and we expect all protagonists in Montenegro to contribute to the defusion of tensions and to peace and order in the country."

"We are hopeful that the current situation will not adversely affect the position of the Croat community in Montenegro," says the ministry.

It recalls that Montenegro is a neighbour of Croatia and that the two countries have developed good relations, and that both are members of NATO.

It underscores that Croatia strongly supports Montenegro's EU membership aspirations.

Montenegrin President Milo Đukanović said on Sunday afternoon that the enthronement of the SPC bishop for Montenegro in a monastery in Cetinje had been conducted with the use of force which he condemned in the strongest terms. He also accused the government of excessive force against peaceful protests.

The Embassy of the United States in Montenegro has called for the defusion of tensions. It urges protesters not to vent out their anger on law enforcement forces that were trying to preserve peace.

The embassy says on its Facebook that all who support the multi-ethnic, inclusive and democratic Montenegro should defuse the current tensions.

DP blasts Joakinije's enthronement, supports Montenegrin patriots

The Croatian oppositionparty called the Homeland Movement  (DP) on Sunday condemned the forcible enthronement of Joanikije and criticised the SPC for continuing to be a key player in attempts to destabilise Montenegro.

The DP says that the arrival of SPC Patriarch Porfirije and Joanikije by helicopter in Cetinje was an air landing operation and war-mongering act.

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Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Patriarch Porfirije Provides 10 Undergraduates From Croatia With Scholarships

ZAGREB, 25 Aug, 2021 - Patriarch Porfirije of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) is personally financing scholarships in the new academic year for students from Croatia via the "Vladimir Matijević" fund which is managed by the Serb Privrednik association, reads a press release issued by the association on Wednesday.

Underscoring that during his service in Zagreb, when he as Metropolitan ran the Eparchy of Zagreb and Ljubljana, Patriarch Porfirije supported and assisted the association's activities and scholarship holders and that he will continue to do so as the SPC head.

"In the last academic year, Privrednik provided scholarships for 80 students, mostly from underdeveloped areas in Croatia. Ahead of the new academic year, we are intensively collecting funds as we have until now, for scholarships for talented students and those of poorer economic status. Annual scholarships amount to HRK 5,000 for secondary school students and HRK 10,000 for university students."

Some of the distinguished persons from the creative industries have been engaged in the campaign to collect those funds: singer Momčilo Bajagić Bajaga, and actors Goran Bogdan, Voja Brajović, Svetlana Bojković and so on.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Friday, 10 May 2019

Serb Orthodox Church Not Involved in Decision-Making on Stepinac

ZAGREB, May 10, 2019 - The Serb Orthodox Metropolitan of Ljubljana and Zagreb, Porfirije Perić, said on Thursday that the Serb Orthodox Church (SPC) was not involved in any way in the decision-making on the canonisation of the World War II Archbishop of Zagreb, Alojzije Stepinac, and that the SPC was the wrong address for the anger of those who were dissatisfied with Pope Francis's recent statement about that process.

Pope Francis recently said that in the process of Stepinac's canonisation there were some unclear historical points that needed to be clarified and that he had also sought assistance from the head of the SPC, Patriarch Irinej, in that regard.

"Everyone knows that if and when Stepinac will be declared saint is exclusively a matter for the Catholic Church to decide. We are in no way involved in the decision-making on that matter nor can we be," Perić told Hina.

With all due respect for all those who are dissatisfied with the current situation regarding the Blessed Alojzije Stepinac and the pope's statement on that topic, they should not be angry at the Serb Orthodox Church, he said. "We are the wrong address. By all accounts, the anger is directed at the Vatican, which is not an easy thing to say. It is simpler to... point the finger at someone else," said Perić.

We responded, he said, to the pope's kind request. "We talked with our brothers the bishops in the spirit of brotherhood, mutual respect and sincerity. We told them what we think," the Serb Orthodox dignitary said.

Croatian Bishops' Conference (HBK) president Želimir Puljić said earlier in the day that in Pope Francis's recent statement regarding the canonisation of Cardinal Stepinac "there is nothing contentious about the search for the truth" or anything "that would bring into question his sainthood and canonisation," but conceded that the statement "has agitated the public and challenged believers."

Archbishop Puljić said the pope's decision to consult the SPC regarding Stepinac was a precedent and that the SPC wanted to use this precedent to block the canonisation.

More news about the canonisation of Stepinac can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 28 April 2019

Christian Orthodox Faithful Celebrate Easter

ZAGREB, April 28, 2019 - Christian believers in Croatia who observe the old, Julian calendar were celebrating Easter in their churches and homes across the country on Sunday. In his message to the faithful on the occasion of the greatest Christian holiday, the Serb Orthodox Metropolitan of Zagreb and Ljubljana, Porfirije Perić, called on them to forgive one another and thus start changing their lives.

"Brothers and sisters, endless waves of joy and love today wash our souls because the Son of God was raised to life, thus defeating death and bringing meaning to our lives... death was defeated and life triumphs," said Perić.

"We are faced on a daily basis with problems and challenges - terrorism, poverty... Let us embrace one another, forgive one another and thus start transforming our lives," the dignitary said in his message, among other things.

Senior Croatian state officials as well as representatives of the Roman Catholic Church have extended their best wishes to the Christian faithful who celebrate Easter according to the Julian calendar.

More news about the Serbian Orthodox Church in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Prime Minister Meets with Serbian Orthodox Leader Porfirije

ZAGREB, March 19, 2019 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Monday received for talks the Serbian Orthodox Metropolitan of Zagreb and Ljubljana, Porfirije Perić, the government's public relations office said in a press release, adding that the meeting was also attended by Interior Minister Davor Božinović.

According to the press release, Plenković and Metropolit Porfirije said they wanted the dialogue and partnership between representatives of the government and state institutions and representatives of churches and religious communities in Croatia to continue.

Perić advocated joint action in resolving issues important for the Serb Orthodox faithful and the Serb ethnic minority.

Plenković said the government was working to strengthen the protection of the rights of all ethnic minorities, including by allocating more funds for economic development and resolving issues that had not been dealt with for years, the press release said.

More news about the status of Serbs in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Catholic and Orthodox Bishops Urge Faithful to Promote Unity

ZAGREB, January 18, 2019 - Five Roman Catholic and five Serb Orthodox bishops met in Požega on Thursday ahead of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and pushed for "joint statements in the Croatian public to encourage believers to promote unity above all national and political exclusiveness," the Croatian Bishops Conference said.

On Croatia's public scene, there are many negative views and ill-intentioned approaches as well as too much dealing with others' negativity while ignoring one's own, which divides people, creates mistrust and distances them from each other, the bishops said.

In a special statement, they mentioned the "grave plights of the Serbian and Croatian peoples and other citizens of Croatia in the recent past in wars, persecutions and killings caused by hate."

"We are aware that by accusing each other, manipulating the historical truth, interpreting wartime events for daily political purposes, insulting and humiliating on ethnic or religious grounds, we remain prisoners of the past and losers in the present.

We push for establishing the truth about the victims of World War II and of the 1991-1995 war in Croatia through scientific research and arguments, so as to stop speculation about the number of victims and giving them back the dignity they have as victims.

The dignitaries say, among other things, that they "deeply regret every innocent victim of any nation, faith or political view from our recent past."

More news on the religions in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Religious Leaders Call for Better Dialogue in Croatia

ZAGREB, October 25, 2018 - The leaders of four religious communities in Croatia concluded at a round table discussion that religious and other prejudices as potential sources of hatred could be eliminated with the kind of dialogue that does not constitute only an exchange of information but is a real attempt to get to know one another.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Patriarch of Serbian Orthodox Church Pays Respect to Jasenovac Victims

ZAGREB, April 22, 2018 - Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church Irinej on Sunday held a liturgy for the victims of WWII Ustasha concentration camp in Jasenovac, in the local church in Mlaka near Jasenovac, and blessed the St Elijah temple.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Eastern Orthodox Christians Celebrate Easter

ZAGREB, April 8, 2018 - Eastern Orthodox Christians, who follow the old Julian calendar, were celebrating Easter on Sunday, and Serb Metropolitan Bishop Porfirije led a liturgy in the Temple of the Transfiguration of the Lord in Zagreb.

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