Monday, December 20, 2010

Serbian Holy Synod: Communique on the Sect of "Artemians" (12/16/10)


The Communique of the Holy Synod of Serbia - 16th December 2010

Holy Synod of Bishops at the meeting held on 16th of December this year, addressed the Church and the general public, regarding the anti-church conduct of the former Bishop of Raška and Prizren, now monk Artemije, with the following statement:

1. As is known the Holy Assembly of Bishops at its May session this year, on the basis of a written document related to the proved canonical delicts, permanently and irrevocably dismissed Bishop Artemije from the duty of the Bishop of Raška and Prizren, which he himself accepted and agreed to live at Sisatovac monastery upon his release. Regrettably, from September and October this year, Bishop Artemije in his letters to the Holy Synod expressed his "regret" for accepting the synodal decision, claiming, contrary to common sense, that he was "a lifelong Bishop of Raška and Prizren". This was a reason for the Holy Synod to place him under censure until the next regular session of this year's Holy Assembly of Bishops in November.

Instead of asking from the Assembly the forgiveness for his delicts and violations of the canonical order of the Church, so that his censure could be lifted, Bishop Artemije in a violent manner, with a group of his followers, who had also been censured after ecclesiastical court proceedings, tried to usurp the monasteries and entire Raška and Prizren Diocese, beginning his lawless act by uncanonical and unconstitutional serving of the Liturgy in the monastery of Duboki potok, though still under a censure. In addition, using a counterfeit seal, he began to issue anti-canonical decisions in the Diocese of Raška and Prizren.

All this was happening while the Holy Assembly was in session, so the Bishops, with deep regret, were forced to deprive the former Bishop of Raška and Prizren Bishop Artemije of his episcopal rank and return him to the order of a monk. The unlawful Liturgy and participation in it, as well as other, additional reasons also contributed to the decision of the Ecclesiastical Court of the Diocese of Raška and Prizren to laicize seventeen hierodeacons and hieromonks, the followers of Artemije. Instead of soberness and repentance, monk Artemije and his laicized followers continued to "serve the Liturgy" in the usurped church of Saint John the Baptist (the Diocese of Žiča), which they turned into "a monastery", thus adding iniquity to iniquity.

2. These were the reasons why the Holy Synod was obliged to inform the public that such conduct its former Bishop of Raška and Prizren not only found himself on the path of a schism but literally created his own sect, the sect of "Artemians", the first of its kind in the history of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Without losing hope and calling him to repentance, the Holy Synod responsibly brings to the attention of all the clergy and faithful people of St. Sava's Church that " the Liturgy" of former bishop Artemije and his supporters, who have all been dismissed from the clerical state, is not the Holy Liturgy, their "communion" is not the sacred Communion, their "mysteries" are not the holy mysteries of the Church of God, and that all they do serves the spiritual ruin to them and those who follow them and participate in their gatherings and worship. Claiming to serve God, they in fact under the guise of defense of Orthodoxy work on destruction of the unity of the Church of Christ, separating themselves in a sectarian way from her living and salvific Community and depriving themselves and others of eternal salvation. Therefore, all those who still follow them naively should think again whom and what they are following, separating themselves from the Church of Christ, and bringing on themselves and their children the sectarian curse.

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