LA Times Demonizes Patriarch Pavle

Regarding an article which appeared in the 11/16/2009 issue of the Los Angeles Times (here) William Dorich offers this Letter to the Editor:

Letter to the Editor

The Los Angeles Times

Re: Serbia’s Orthodox Leader

Published on numerous Serbian websites

Dear Editor:

The Los Angeles Times demonized Serbian Patriarch Pavle, spiritual leader of the Balkans admired by more than 10 million Serbian Orthodox Christians. I never dreamed the Times would stoop to such appalling bad taste. Reducing the Patriarch to a political opportunist is beyond the pale. Did Carol Williams pen this disgusting obituary; it reeks of her brand of Serbophobia?

The Patriarch was the Bishop of Kosovo for two decades.  In 1989, a gang of Albanian teenagers led animals into the bishop’s church to defecate on the alter.  They scribbled filthy Albanian words over the 13th century frescoes then proceeded to nearly beat the bishop to death.  He was 75 years-old and remained in intensive care for 3 months nearly dying of his wounds.  Shockingly you omitted this Albanian violence from this obituary but utilized the space to call this holy man a Serbian “nationalist.” Have you no shame?

When Communist dictator Tito granted Albanian “autonomy” in 1978, three Serbian churches and a monastery went up in smoke. Over 140,000 Serbs were forced to leave Kosovo.  Albanian authorities removed all Serbian books from schools and libraries and burned over 2 million volumes including numerous priceless 12th and 13th century manuscripts.

In 2004 during 4 days of Albanian violence, 32 Serbian Christian churches were razed along with the burning of 500 Serbian homes, right under the noses of 17,000 NATO troops, yet you place the blame for “ethnic wars” at the feet of this Patriarch.  More than 90% of the Serbs in Kosovo have been ethnically cleansed.  Your newspaper continues to omit the fact that 40% of the Albanians in Kosovo are illegal aliens who cross the border from Albania into Kosovo as easily as Mexicans who cross our border each night in San Diego.

Claiming that the Patriarch “struggled to rally international support for protection of ancient Serbian churches and monasteries that came under attacks” and then failing to inform your readers that Albanians destroy 151 ancient Serbian Christian churches reveals your immoral racism. Carol Williams has been a one-woman hate fest. Her disgusting duplicity is now crowned by this appalling obituary of the highest spiritual leader of the Serbian people… Is your editorial department proud of such unbridled bigotry?

Your obituary ignores more than one million Orthodox Christians in Los Angeles including 150,000 Serbs in Southern California. What a repugnant misuse of freedom of the press. The freedom you denied the Serbian people for the entire decade of the 1990s when the Los Angeles Times, like the New York Times, refused to publish one single article written by a Serbian journalist, author, scholar or political leader during these dismemberment Civil Wars in the Balkans. You were expert at muzzling tactics. Now blasphemy is part of your hate crimes.

When Patriarch Pavle visited Los Angeles in 1992, the first visit of a Serbian Orthodox Patriarch to this country and this city you gave him 62 words on page 11. Your staff ignored every invitation to interview this spiritual leader and to attend our Sunday High Liturgy at St. Steven Serbian Cathedral in Alhambra. You preferred to punish the Serbs in this community with collective guilt. This obituary is a disgraceful display of your continued demonization.  When will your editorial hatred be enough?

William Dorich
Los Angeles, CA

The writer is the author of 5 books on Balkan history and music including his 1992 book, Kosovo. He received the Order of St. Sava, the highest recognition given to a layperson by the Holy Synod of Serbian Orthodox Bishops.

9 thoughts on “LA Times Demonizes Patriarch Pavle

  1. Thank you Romanos. Patriarch Pavle was beyond politics as we’ve seen these past few days statements from the various religious organizations. There are, nonetheless, those who pay little attention to this and use this opportunity for their own rants. There are political blogs out there as well. Let them go there.

  2. Father Milovan, your previous comment has become a post on my blog, as you may have already noticed:

    I also received today on another of my posts which reminisced about the blessed, reposed patriarch a comment from a blogger calling himself Srebrenica Genocide. I did not catch it immediately, but when I noticed it, I deleted it and left a comment saying in effect that I do not allow this kind of defamation on my blog. I am sure that whoever posted the comments that I deleted feels perfectly justified in demonizing the patriarch, but God will certainly judge us all, and He will not be swayed by polemical rhetopric from any quarter.

    As for Patriarch Pavle, memory eternal.

  3. I have always found the idea of “Serb Nationalism” as a bad thing to be odd – is it any different from Albanian Nationalism or Israeli Nationalism?
    I love being an American and I love my country, I think there is “American exceptionalism” so how is that any different from any of the former?
    Patriarch Pavle (May his memory be eternal!) obviously loved his country, but he loved Christ more… Pray God that we all be more like him!

  4. Shame on the Los Angeles Times for including nasty, insulting, and unprofessional “side comments” in its obituary of Patriarch Pavle, the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Such unnecessary, insulting, and false comments about Patriarch Pavle indicate that the Los Angeles Times has stooped to the lowest possible level of scatological journalism.

    There was no need for the Times to print that Patriarch Pavle “stopped short of openly condemning Serb nationalism” during the Balkan ethnic conflicts of the 1990s. Nor should the Times have insulted the integrity of Patriarch Pavle by printing, “Critics faulted him and other Serbian leaders for failing to be vocal when Serb troops launched major ethnic-cleansing campaigns against non-Serbs.”

    These “side comments” — negative as they are in portraying Patriarch Pavle — also border on being libelous, because they defame the deceased Serbian Orthodox Patriarch.

    I suggest that several Serbian organizations unite and demand that the Los Angeles Times print a retraction for defaming Patriarch Pavle. If it fails to do so, Serbian organizations should unite and sue the Times for libel.

  5. The article referenced in this post is yet another example of the West demonizing the Serbs. Even as a kid growing up in the midwest, I was repeatedly warned by my Croatian friends to stay away from the Serbs who they claimed were “as filthy as black, dirty Turks, and all half-breeds.” That phrase still sticks in my mind, and I remember how it made me look at the boys who we knew were Serbs. I never heard this from my other friends (I grew up in an area where Poles and Croatians predominated, and Serbs, Ukrainians, and Russians were in the minority). I didn’t exactly conform, but it prevented me from ever having a Serbian friend. I just knew who they were and interacted with them in school functions as I did with anyone else outside my ethnicity. (I am Polish, and my family was unchurchable Catholics.)

    Patriarch Pavle is a saint and faithful to our Lord. Now he rests with the just in the bosom of Abraham, and he will reign with Christ in paradise. What Jesus says is true, “They hated me for no reason,” and, “If they hated me, they will hate you too,” quoting from the gospel of John from memory.

    “Blessed are you when men abuse you and speak calumny against you falsely for my sake,” says our Lord Jesus Christ. How blessed are you, Pavle beloved of the Lord! How blessed are you!

  6. I received an email this morning from a homily delivered by Fr. Demetrios Carellas this past Sunday. I was reminded of this story, which he included in his message, from the Patriarch’s days as bishop of Kosovo:

    “…When he was the Bishop of Kosovo, he was brutally and severely beaten by a young Muslim man. So intense was this beating, that the frail Bishop almost died; and was in the Hospital for a few months. Upon his dismissal from the Hospital, the then Bishop Pavle went to the prison where the young man was incarcerated. He told the one who had almost killed him that he felt he needed to go home to his parents; because they needed him!

    Then he called the warden of the prison and demanded the young man’s release. When the warden refused, Bishop Pavle told him, ‘I have nothing against this young man; and I will not speak against him. Therefore, you must release him now!’

    What true Christ-like love, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ — love which bore a very special fruit: the young man was soon Baptized into the Orthodox Faith!…”

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