From the Worldwide Faith News archives

GOAA - Orthodox Bishops decry destructions in Kosovo

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Tue, 24 Dec 2002 10:32:26 -0800

   The Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas
		    8 East 79th Street, New York, NY 10021

Of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas
On the Destruction of Spiritual and Cultural Property in Kosovo and

Whereas the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the
Americas (SCOBA) is committed to religious freedom, filial love, tolerance,
and respect for the religious and cultural heritage and property of all
faiths and peoples;

Whereas SCOBA represents over 6 million Orthodox Christians of diverse
ethnic backgrounds in the United States of America and Canada;

Whereas SCOBA is grieved by the growing incidence of violence throughout
the world against holy sites sacred to Christians, Jews, Muslims,
Buddhists, Hindus and other faiths;

Whereas the protection of religious shrines and cultural heritage property
against acts of violence, intolerance and eradication is the responsibility
of every civilized society, as confirmed by U.N. Resolutions A/RES/56/157
and E/CN4/RES2002/40, et al.

Whereas the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948, affirm the right of everyone
to manifest their religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and

Whereas the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the
Event of Armed Conflict, in force since 1956, prohibits theft, pillage,
vandalism, or reprisals against cultural property during periods of armed
conflict, and requires governing authorities to take measures to protect
such property;

Whereas UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayor on May 5, 1999 called for
those involved in the Kosovo conflict to "respect the museums, archives,
libraries, religious and educational institutions, as well as monuments and
sites that are evidence of the civilization and history of the region";

Whereas SCOBA and all Orthodox Christian faithful throughout the world are
deeply grieved over the continuation of acts of vandalism, pillage and
violent destruction that have damaged or destroyed over 120 Orthodox
Christian churches, monasteries, and shrines, as well as the desecration of
numerous Orthodox Christian graves, since the war in Kosovo ended in June

Whereas the leadership of the World Council of Churches and of the
Conference of European Churches on August 16, 2002 expressed "profound
concern at the continued violence facing members of the Serbian Orthodox
Church and its cultural and spiritual property in Kosovo", and;

Whereas Reno Harnish, Chief of Mission of the US Office in Pristina
condemned the recent violence in Kosovo on November 18, 2002, stating: "Any
attacks on religious sites of any faith are attacks on the very heart and
soul of society and should be denounced in the strongest possible terms by
all political and religious leaders."

Therefore, be it resolved that the Standing Conference of Canonical
Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA):

1.  Deeply deplores the most recent violent attacks on the Serbian Orthodox
Diocese of Raska and Prizren in Kosovo and Metohija on November 16 and 17,
2002, which caused extensive damage to the Church of Serbian Saints in
Djurakovac and totally destroyed the Church of Saint Basil of Ostrog the
Miracle Worker in Ljubovo;

2.  Condemns all acts of vandalism, pillage and violent destruction of
religious and cultural heritage sites sacred to Orthodox Christians, Roman
Catholics, Muslims, Jews or any other religious group in Kosovo;

3.  Joins with the United Nations, the World Council of Churches and the
Conference of European Churches, the Serbian Orthodox Church, and the
international community in calling for respect, tolerance and
reconciliation among all religious and ethnic communities in Kosovo;

4.  Urgently requests the United Nations authorities and NATO peacekeeping
forces in Kosovo to strengthen measures to protect all vulnerable religious
property and shrines in Kosovo, and not only those of historical
importance, and;

5.  Urges the international community, in consultation with the affected
religious communities, to support the restoration and reconstruction of all
religious and cultural heritage property in Kosovo deliberately vandalized,
pillaged, damaged or destroyed by acts of violence.

December 17, 2002
South Bound Brook, New Jersey

+Archbishop DEMETRIOS, Chairman
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

+Metropolitan PHILIP, Vice Chairman
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

+Metropolitan CHRISTOPHER, Secretary
Serbian Orthodox Church in the USA and Canada

+Metropolitan HERMAN
Orthodox Church in America

+Metropolitan CONSTANTINE
Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA

+Metropolitan JOSEPH
Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church

+Archbishop NICOLAE
Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America and Canada

+Metropolitan NICHOLAS of Amissos,
American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the USA

+Bishop ILIA of Philomelion
Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America

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