Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren (Serbian Orthodox Church) Visits St John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington, DC
From the Editor: We present here an account written by Protopriest Victor Potapov, Rector of St John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington, DC, where, on February 6, Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren performed a moleben, then met with the parishioners.
On the evening of February 6, at St John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington, DC, a special moleben was performed for the suffering Orthodox Serbs in Kosovo and Metochia. Officiating at the service was Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren, who is visiting the United States for the ninth time in the effort of achieving peace and tolerance in the much-suffering Kosovo region. Concelebrating with His Grace were three Serbian priests and the Cathedral Rector, Protopriest Victor Potapov. After the moleben, a reception was held for Bishop Artemije, who told the parishioners about the present state of affairs in the Orthodox Church in Kosovo and Metochia and the flock.
Bishop Artemije titled his lectured "The Future Kosovo—European Democracy or Regional Chaos?"
His Grace, representing the Serbian population of Kosovo and Metochia, began his presentation with a rhetorical question: Why is America leading such a persistent war against terrorism? He suggested the following reason: Because terrorism threatens the values of democracy, the values which were granted to the Western world by Christianity.
Terrorism exists in Kosovo in the form of a Jihad of the Kosovo Albanians. We Serbs do not resist this violence. We tolerate it. This terror is in plain view of the peacekeeping forces in our region and is seen by the international community which prefers not to notice these terrorist acts. Any resistance to this terror on the part of the Serbs would be seen in a negative light.
The international community is so tolerant of the Kosovo terrorists that it is ready to grant them independence.
If this occurs, continued Bishop Artemije, this will lead to a center of militant Jihad and terrorism in the heart of Europe, which will eventually threaten the democratic ideals not only of Europe but of the USA as well. If the free world accepts the formation of an independent Kosovo, this region will become a launching pad for a new Al-Qaeda which will be far more dangerous and ubiquitous than that of Osama bin-Laden.
If the Western powers decide to grant Kosovo independence, this will lead to chaos in the entire region and will give inspiration to numerous extremist groups throughout the world by showing that the crime of terrorism is effective and serves as a useful tactic in achieving a goal.
Responding to questions from the audience, Bishop Artemije declared that over the last few years, many Serbs have been killed in Kosovo and Metochia and that not one murderer has been prosecuted. The Serbian enclaves of Kosovo are left for weeks at a time with no communal services, not even in the cold winter months. One hundred and fifty churches and monasteries have been destroyed by Muslims, and the rest are forced to lead their church life behind barbed wire or under protection of international peacekeeping troops.
I fear that the time will come, concluded His Grace, when history will demand of the powers that be and of the administrators of the Kosovo region to answer the question—why did they allow the liquidation of an entire Christian people, the Serbs.
Protopriest Victor Potapov
Rector, St John the Baptist Cathedral, Washington DC