(Introduction to a thesis of Bishop Photios of Marathon on the Serbian Matter)
During a recent visit of the author for the feast of the monastery of the Honorable Forerunner Novi Stjenik, the opportunity was given to me to discuss with the Serbs G.O.C. clergy and laity the issues which are of concern to them. That stood to reason study in detail the history of the Churches of Serbia and Bulgaria and in continuation to draft a report to inform the Holy Synod in the interests of solving the problem of the reconstruction of the Church of G.O.C. of Serbia in the best way, immediately after the union of the Church G.O.C. Greece with the Russian True Orthodox Church.
My suggestion foresaw the separation of Serbia from the Exarchate of Europe, its recognition as a particular local Church, in order to shepherd it the ordination of a bishop would be examined amidst a process which would render the Bishop acceptable by both parties of the G.O.C. of Serbia. This suggestion had been submitted to the Synod on July 6/19, 2011, it had also been sent to the Bishops who reside in America in order that they also express their opinion a decision was supposed to have been reached in a meeting on August 3/16. In order to clarify the processes which would preserve the Serbian G.O.C. united I had prepared a supplementary contribution. Of these processes there could have been three kinds: a) The convocation of a General Synaxis of Serbian G.O.C. clergy and laity for election (through secret ballot) of a widely accepted candidate among the Serbian hieromonks (chosen by at least 2/3 of those present). b) If it was not possible to obtain such a percentage then the two or three who have the preference of at least 1/3 of the Serbian G.O.C. could be subjected to an electoral process after liturgy. Whoever is chosen should be received by all. 3) Two bishops should be ordained for the Serbs who will satisfy both parts of the Serbian G.O.C. and work harmoniously it would be possible to preserve both sides united and heal the division within.
This third suggestion –which I preferred- was essentially the idea of the Reader Ouros, which at first – when I first heard it- I was not sympathetic to it, but later after some thought I adopted it as the one suggestion which could hold together both groups of Serbians united. I think that the Serbian G.O.C. themselves would be able to select through a majority vote the candidate of their preference and the ordination of the Bishop or Bishops could happen as a joint act between Greek and Russian hierarchs as an act of great symbolism. As a prototype of the self-governance of this Church which is small in size, the example of the Archdiocese of Sinai could be used with appropriate adjustments.
Unfortunately, things took another turn. The Russians, in spite of the assurances they had made as late as March 2011 that they would not get involved in Serbia, but would only act if they were invited to by us, proceeded to ordain our Serbian clergyman, Hieromonk Akakije on August 2/15, exactly on the eve of the decision by the Holy Synod of our Church concerning my suggestion. A few days before the ordination a committee came to Greece from the Russian Synod under Archbishop Tikhon together with Hieromonk Akakije. During the discussions it was made clear to them that my suggestion would be discussed by the Synod of our Church during the following days, in spite of all this they decided to proceed with the ordination.
This act of the Russian hierarchs has made them untrustworthy in the eyes of the members of the Synod and this is a sufficient reason to halt the process of rapprochement. Trustworthiness is a necessary characteristic in order to reach and keep an agreement. He who was ordained a Bishop in this way, completely failed to express the will of the majority of the Serbian G.O.C. which rejected this arbitrary action of a small group which apparently bears the characteristics of a faction.
This unfortunate result was induced in the midst of a climate of artificially induced anti-Hellenism through the publication of articles and comments on the internet in Serbian and English of mistaken historical reports and unfortunate cases of the past. All of these things cause me to express certain thoughts and reflections concerning the situation of the G.O.C. in Serbia. In the first section I proceed with necessary historical information in order to understand today’s situation and to rehabilitate historical inaccuracies which are accepted by a portion of the Serbian G.O.C. The writing of the Professor D. Gones “The History of the Churches of Bulgaria and Serbia” proved especially useful for the historical section of this treatise. The rest of the relevant literature is listed in the bibliography.
Written in Melbourne on Tuesday August 24th 2011
Hieromartyr Cosmas of Aetolia
Bishop of Marathon
http://sites.google.com/site/bishopphot ... nsofserbia
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