November 20, 2010

Moderate Chosen as Serbian Bishop in Kosovo

November 19, 2010

The Synod of the Orthodox Church has appointed a more conciliatory figure to head the Raska-Prizren diocese than his predecessor.

The Synod of Serbia's powerful Orthodox Church has appointed a peace-maker as its new bishop in Kosovo, a religious analyst told Balkan Insight.

"Teodosije's election to head the Raska-Prizren diocese suggested that the Church intended to start adopting "a softer tone towards the international community in Kosovo," Zivica Tucic said.

The Church has been seen as pursuing a more open course since Bishop Irinej of Nis was elected 45th Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church on January 22.

Kosovo's previous bishop, Artemije, was a nationalist hard-liner, fiercely critical of the international community's actions in Kosovo, which most Serbs regard as an integral part of their country and whose independence they do not recognise.

Artemije was forced to retire in May after several close associates were found guilty of embezzlement.

The two bishops had been in conflict over whether the Church should cooperate over the reconstruction of monasteries and churches in Kosovo with the international community. Many were damaged or destroyed when members of Kosovo's Albanian majority staged anti-Serbian riots in 2004.

A Church source told Balkan Insight that Teodosije was viewed as more flexible on the subject of working with the international community. He also enjoys the support of many Kosovo Serbs. "He has been travelling around Kosovo, bringing humanitarian aid to people," the same source said.

The Serbian Orthodox Church has yet to decide on Artemije's ultiumate fate, having suspended him from his duties. Tucic said the Synod would either allow him to remain a retired bishop, or formally defrock him. "No one can tell what the 40 members of the assembly will agree on," he said.

Read also:

The Holy Assembly of Bishops Elected Bishop Teodosije as a New Bishop of Raška-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija