November 13, 2010

Disgraced Serbian Bishop Artemije Threatens To Start "New Church"

November 12, 2010

The disgraced Serbian Orthodox Bishop Artemije has demanded that he be reinstated as the Kosovo eparch, warning that he would otherwise start a "new church," the daily Blic said Friday.

The Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) stripped Artemije of authority over the Kosovo eparchy in February over his "inability to govern" and shortcomings in fiscal and material accounting.

He was also banned from performing services amid concerns within SPC that he may split the church.

A group of radical monks from two monasteries in the Kosovo eparchy, which also covers a part of southern Serbia, rebelled against SPC after Artemije's ouster.

Now Artemije, "writing from exile in the Sisatovac monastery" in northern Serbia, is alleging that he was "sentenced without court and sentence," Blic quoting his letter to the SPC synod as saying.

Artemije spoke for himself and the rebellious monks, the newspaper said. The group represents the far-right wing within the church and may have support from some of the SPC bishops.

Artemije's threats come ahead of a meeting of the SPC assembly on November 17. The SPC, which traditionally aims to keep the public out of its affairs, did not immediately comment on Artemije's letter.

The mutiny could further strain already fragile relations between reformists and hardliners within the SPC leadership, who have been unable to agree on issues ranging from ties with renegade orthodox churches in Macedonia and Montenegro to the form of the liturgy.

Read also: Retired Bishop To Establish "New Church"?