Conversations with Bishop Artemije
Info Service “Срби На Окуп”
јun 03. 2012
BISHOP – Interviews
Info-Service spoke with Bishop Artemije, asking him to comment on both current issues and events. Further on we’ve included this very important Bishop Artemije’s interview.
Your eminence, is there grace in the Serbian Orthodox Church?
It is, of course, a big issue, but the answer is quite simple. We never denied the benefit of the Serbian Orthodox Church, in spite of the individuals who were diverted from the genuine patristic path, the path of Saint Sava, since the sins of individuals do not impede the effect of the grace of God. Neither any clergyman’s, bishop’s and priest’s own sins do not impede the action of grace, so no matter what the celebrant is like, the Secret he performs is correct and valid.
Many wonder whether the grace is partial or complete, and whether it can be divided into the eparchies where it is served traditionally, and the eparchies where certain liturgical reforms have been introduced. For instance, there are no benefits in the diocese of Backa, but in the diocese of Banat there is grace?
Absolutely not! The first answer is also the answer to that question, because the grace does not depend on the purity of life of one man, but the power of God, and the faith of those who approach the Sacraments. So no matter what attitude some of the bishops have, the church is blessed, until the council’s condemnation for canonical violations.
Can those believers who come to the Holy Liturgy in Barajevo, Ljuljaci and our other catacombs, attend the liturgy in their eparchies?
Of course, and we have never forbidden, nor advised anyone not to go! Nor have questioned or controlled if anyone goes there or comes here. It is simply a matter of personal choice, and if we could say – if you look at the Gospel, no one can serve two masters. So that kind of schizophrenia, the division of the personality, is not healthy. It is better to be determined, but to soothe your conscience in a way.
Are the Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, heretics, and is the Holy Communion from them “poison in the glass”?
The question is general and can not be answered that way. There are some bishops who have stepped deeply into heresy. But it is unacceptable to talk about all of the bishops as a heretics. We have the Bishops who put much effort and fight against the pan-heresy of ecumenism, and as for the second part of the question I think that’s simply a blasphemy. From the previous responses to your questions, it is clear that all the secrets of the Serbian Orthodox Church are valid, and no way, God wouldn’t permit it could be poison in the Holy Chalice. It is sacred!
Have you applied the 15th canon of the First-second Constantinople Council, and therefore ceased to mention the Patriarch, or what is the real reason of the absence of mentioning the Patriarch?
The basis is in the 15th canon of the First-second Constantinople Council, where it is said clearly – when the heresy is preached in public, by words, proceedings or actions. And many of them in our Church, above all the First Hierarch – Patriarch, publicly confessed that he is an ecumenist, and proved by his acts that he really is, because he participates in common prayers not only with the various Christian communities, but even with the Jews. His gesture where he lit candles in the synagogue on Hanukkah celebration, that picture went around the whole world, and according to the canons that is unacceptable, and until now no Orthodox bishop has dared to do such a thing, not even the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew, who is the leader in spreading ecumenism among the Orthodox, even he hasn’t done such a thing. Unfortunately, our Patriarch did it.
Does it make him automatically a heretic because he did this, or should be condemned as a heretic?
He is a heretic, but not convicted yet, so his Secrets are valid.
Many people are very confused about this issue …
The heretic is one who professes heresy. But the Sacraments of a convicted heretic cease to be valid.
Are you still part of the SPC (SOC), and do not intend to go anywhere as you wrote in the text “To be understood”?
Certainly, I never ceased to be, nor I have ever stopped to consider myself the Serbian Orthodox
Church, regardless of the attitudes of some people towards me, because I do not intend to make some my own Church as it has been attributed to me, and as I am still considered by many to create my own church, my parasynagogue, my sect, and so on … that is a nonsense.
Has anything changed since you wrote that text till today in your views?
I think not! The views have remained the same, because the Truth is always the same and therefore it is true, we endeavor to keep our views always the same, and to have always the same attitude towards the truth.
Your Eminence, some people say that by building new churches, some new churches or parasynagogues are being created?
Well it’s already been said, we do not create new synagogues or some new Churches, we simply open the service places, acording to needs of our monks and believers who approach us.
There were also some words of consecration of new bishops from you is there any truth?
Not at all, no question!
So there was no effort, nor it will be?
That would be an attempt to create something apart from the Serbian Orthodox Church. I don’t want that, because I am Serbian Orthodox Church, actually, the Serbian Orthodox Church Bishop.
Various zilot groups on the Internet claim that you are in contact with Metropolitan Agatangel from the Russian Exile Church, and that is a question of time when you will participate with him in prayer?
There have been some exchanges of greetings for Christmas and Easter, so there wos a correspondence but there were no other contacts, and now even those contacts by correspondence stopped.
You have not even had the intention to participatewith him in prayer?
There was no prayer togetherness nor there is going to be.
The followers of Metropolitan Cyprian Kucumbis claim the same, so is there a chance that this happens?
We have never had any contacts, except when he was still in the lap of the Greek Orthodox Church. Then I had just come to Greece to study, and the Bishop had sent me to his monastery where he was only the abbot, that’s when I saw him for the first and the last time.
His followers are hoping for something …
No, that is without any basis.
What are your views on the issue of a new calendar? Some believers are confused as you support the venerable Metropolitan of Greece, like the Seraphim of Piraeus, because he respects the new calendar?
The calendar is not heresy, but it is a mistake. And it is the first step to turning and deviation from the rules of the Holy Fathers, the Holy Canons, turning to the left. That was the first step that has been made in the early 20th century, and after this step appeared many others who brought us to pan-heresy of ecumenism and globalism. So, naither the one who respects the new calendar, nor the one who persists with the old one is a heretic, because we have
ecumenists at both sides, one and the other. But to emphasize the calendar as a dogmatic question, consider it the most important and put it on the highest pedestal, excately that is a heresy.
Recently we have read in one forum, run by certain priests, that the Archimandrite Simeon ”abuses” you physically?
All sorts of nonsense …
They say that “You stand still while he physically abuses you, and blackmails you?”
Well let them show it if they know, when and where. Does that mean he beats me?
Yes, that he beats you.
Lord God …
Also on this forum they claim that the one who took the decision to release the father Simeon was the cousin of the Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus?
This is the most common slander, after 2 years. Unbelievable!
The decision of the Areopagus was a proof of Your and Archimandrite Simeon’s innocence, and aslap to the charges of Bishops and the Church Court. Isn’t it a relevant evidence that there was no guilt, because we know that the Areopagus is an absolutely independent court, and that the politics doesn’t have access there?
I absolutely agree with that, certainly. Our Patriarch, who said that the decision of the Areopagus was made under some influence – as if anyone could make an influence on the highest court in Greece, was simply ridiculous and sad.
From Where comes such a persecution of Archimandrite Simeon? His name is constantly being dragged through media in the most negative context?
Yes, yes … I know it, but why is it so I could not explain, unless it comes from some personal reasons,or animosity toward him and his views …
Has it perhaps arisen from “Decani kitchen”?
Most likely there was a beginning, and then it spread like the smell of food spreads from the kitchen throughout the whole building, it spreads through entire church.
We have seen that the Archimandrite Simeon fights against ecumenism in Greece, along with the eminent Professor Theodore Zizis, and that he is very appreciated and respected there, that the Greece public highly appreciates him. How can we fight against ecumenism here in Serbia?
With our words, life, acts, a courageous confession of our faith, rejecting the views of the ecumenists, which means going to a joint prayer with heretics, that is what Canons do not allow. This is the way of our struggle. We can not avert someone from going that way, but then we can not have communion prayer with him.
In Greece are being organized various Symposiums – on the Post-Fathers’ theology, etc. – in order to gather various priests and say a word against ecumenism. Will we have something similar here?
Hopefully, hopefully … After all, there are people here who are struggling in some way against it here too, but there is no such organized thing.
Do you have plans to maybe organize something by Yourself?
Well no, not for now.
Is there any hope for reconciliation with the Serbian Orthodox Church, in the sense that you return as a canonical Bishop?
And who argued with the Serbian Orthodox Church? You know how it is, simply those from the Synod and Council do not stop spreading lies and slanders. In a statement from this year Council, it is said that the Parliament decided to call Artemije to repentance and summoned him to return to the Church, but the invitation has not arrived nor was sent. But the Public Announcement is not an appeal. There were some contacts between me and the Patriarch last year, we had one meeting, where I showed that I was ready to seek for a common solution for this no doubtly unhealthy situation, without concerning the issue of where it was unhealthy – on one or the other side. Unhealthy condition of the Serbian people and Serbian Orthodox Church exsists, and I said then, under what conditions we could discuss and seek for the solutions. That they can talk to me only as a Bishop of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren, only in this capacity we can talk. I have even written and presented it to His Holiness Patriarch. Since then there has been no contact, nor have I received any signal from the other part, and much less a call as it said in the announcement.
You are now being threatened with some canonical measures?
That’s their problem, I am personally done with that issue, as I said and continue with that, I do not accept and do not obey any noncanonical decisions. Neither in the past nor in the future.
Eminence, you probably know that the Eighth Ecumenical Council is being prepared, probably as well as a creation of a union. It is known that all these preparations are underway, what do you think about it, will it come to this Council, and whether this Council will still get to Union or Unity of Religion?
You know, the Parliament is being prepared for a long time, but in a way that isn’t an Orthodox way. Topics that were determined for this council have been resolved for the long time, so it is pointless to consider again the issue of the canons of New Testament books, what books appertain there, the fast issue, the question of anything else. The only issue for a Pan-Orthodox Assembly – and if it will be ecumenical depends on his decisions and accepting the decisions of the fullness of the Church – is the issue of papal heresy. The Pope should be called to the Parliament, not as a member and the Bishop of Rome, but as a heretic, to respond. To be held accountable. Only then it would be excuse for the Council. Without this, or prepared with the support of the Vatican and the Pope, it is ridiculous to talk about a Pan-Orthodox Assembly. And who is preparing it? The biggest modern ecumenists. Therefore, whether there such a Council will take place, whether the conclusion of any union will take place, or accepting the primacy of the Pope and so on, we are absolutely not interested. And one thing is certain, that any of such actions would not be accepted by the Church of Christ, the Orthodox Church.
What to do if it comes to the Union, or the formation of a new religion at that Council? In that case, will many of our bishops snap and simply understand where they are?
It depends on each individual. We should stay with the truth wich is unchangeble. And that is what the Holy Fathers gave us, what we received from them, and not what we invented by ourselves, this is what Saint Sava surrendered to us through his Low-rule and what we have been holding till now, that is the path of Bishop Nikolaj, of father Justin, and many, many of our glorious and holy ancestors. We should stay on that path, and with this truth. Regardless of the
consequences that might occur – whether the crucifixion, whether the crown on the head.
Eminence, are both the split and the ecumenism devastating for the church?
Yes, a heresy is devastating for the Church and the schism is disastrous for the Church, in fact, not for the Church but for those who follow the same path, it is fatal for them, and the Church remains the Church of Christ that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Do you still follow your “Imperial Road”?
I don’t know other way. This is what the Holy Fathers were saying, that the virtue is a mean between two extremes. That is the Imperial or the middle path. I think we should try to stay on this road and we should consistently follow it to our heavenly homeland, to the Kingdom of Heaven.
As a conclusion, do you have a message to our readers?
I do. Stand in the freedom with which Christ has released you, and don’t let be entangled in the yoke of fraud and misleading.
Thank you for the interview Your Eminence.
Thank the God.
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