In response to the news about a Croatian Orthodox Church (here), the bishops from the dioceses in Croatia issued the following statement:
(Photo above, the authors of the letter, Bishop Gerasim on left and Bishop Fotije on right.)
Several days before Christmas, the feast that is called the feast of Peace and good will toward men, we were unpleasantly surprised and disturbed by the news about the founding of the Association of Citizens “Croatian Orthodox Organisation” in Ogulin.
At first glance, while searching the web site of this Association, we noticed the misuse of the photograph of the Serbian Orthodox monastery Gomirje. Namely, Monastery Gomirje was founded in 1600 by monks who came from monastery Krka. Since then, this monastery has been a spiritual centre of Orthodox Serbs from the region of Gorski Kotar.
Beside Gomirje, there is also a picture of Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), one of the world’s greatest scientists. However, it is well-known that he was the son of Milutin Tesla, a Serbian Orthodox priest from Smiljane. Truly, one can hardly understand the reason why these photos would be on the logo of the above mentioned Association, since their members call themselves Orthodox Croats.
Furthermore, the title “Orthodox” which this Association carries, also appears to be of a questionable nature. Our obligation is to emphasize that a person becomes Orthodox not by his or her biological birth, but through the Holy Sacrament of Baptism in one of the canonical Orthodox churches. Yet, we are not sure this is the case with the members of this organisation.
The other fact that must be revealed is that this Association is closely related to the fascist and ustashi Independent State of Croatia. In 1942, the notorious Ante Pavelić, the ruler of fascist Croatia, formed the so called «Croatian Orthodox Church» in order to finally exterminate the Serbs in Croatia, as well as to annihilate the Serbian Orthodox Church. These are the main issues of this darkest period of the recent Croatian history which cause great agitation among Serbs in Croatia. Still, in the memory of the Serbian people live the scaffolds and pits of the poor victims, such as Jadovno, Glina, and Jasenovac – the largest concentration and extermination camp in this part of Europe, called by historians “the dark secret of the Holocaust”. In these horror camps innocent people were killed simply for being of another faith or another nation, the greater portion of them being Orthodox Serbs.
The most astonishing fact is that members of this Association build their identity and their existence on the negation of a people of another nation. To be more precise, they negate Serbs and the Serbian Orthodox Church, in spite of the fact that Serbs have been living in this region for ages, and that they have made an immense contribution in politics, philosophy, culture and science, which has brought the Republic of Croatia just before the entrance to the European Community of democratic countries.
When a person or organisation bases its existence on the negation of everything and everyone who is different, then we can define it only as a “spiritual and cultural terrorism”, which is strictly forbidden in democratic Europe. Such organizations cannot be registered in European countries. As far as we know, that is the case in the Republic of Croatia as well.
As representatives of the Serbian Orthodox Church and preachers of God’s Word, we remind all people that Christ’s Gospel is the Gospel of love. In accordance with that Gospel, those people who say that they believe in God but hate their neighbour, are called false Christians and their faith is false (1.John, 4:20). Regardless of our confession, the truth of our faith is being tempted by our relationship with our neighbours and people in general. In other words, if we do not obey the commandment to love our neighbour, then we separate ourselves from God and His Body. Consequently, that way leads us not to salvation, but to tragedy and evil.
Dear Mrs Kosor, this letter is written with our best intentions. In our opinion, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia must be informed about this organisation, which reminds us of the darkest period of the recent Croatian history.
Since you are the most important person in the Republic of Croatia, responsible for maintaining the peace, public order and democracy, we refer to you to protect Orthodox Serbs and the Serbian Orthodox Church. Namely, the attack on their cultural and spiritual identity would probably bring into question the mere existence of Serbs in the Republic of Croatia.
His Grace +Gerasim, Bishop of Gornjekarlovačka Diocese
His Grace +Fotije, Bishop of Dalmatia
25th December 2009