Sandro Magister reports in Chiesa (thanks to Sparta):
ROMA – During the last week of November, two more Orthodox Christian churches were attacked and damaged in Kosovo – in Gornja Brnjica, and in Susica. Neither was protected by KFOR, the military force under NATO command that maintains order in the region.
Since the war ended with the defeat of the Serbs in 1999, more than one hundred Orthodox holy places have been assaulted and destroyed in Kosovo, many of them going back to the 13th and 14th centuries. Earlier, while the Serbian army of Slobodan Milosevic had control of the region, it is calculated that 212 of the 560 Muslim mosques in the area were damaged or razed.
In Kosovo today, the Orthodox Serbs are a besieged and endangered minority. Of the roughly 250,000 who fled following NATOÂ´s military intervention, only a few thousand have returned. Together with the 130,000 who remained, they are herded in restricted zones and kept under constant threat. Power rests in the hands of the Muslim Kosovar Albanians. The future status of the region is uncertain. Formally, Kosovo remains an autonomous province of the Republic of Serbia and Montenegro, but resolution 1244 of the United Nations defining its status also refers to the Rambouillet accords of 1999, which appeal to the principle of self-determination of peoples in outlining the definitive arrangement of the area. And the overwhelming Albanian majority has enlisted this point in its bid for independence.
The destruction of Christian churches is part of this plan – or, at least, thatÂ´s what the local Orthodox community fears. “Either destruction, or transformation into museums,” specifies Fr. Sava Janjic, vice-prior of the monastery of Decani.
This monastery is one of the masterpieces of medieval art in Kosovo, an historic cradle of Serbian Orthodoxy. It is occupied by 35 monks, many of whom have entered during the last twelve years, in a complete rebirth of monastic life. During the war, they were lavish in their defense of the Kosovar Albanians, threatened with ethnic cleansing by Slobodan MilosevicÂ´s army. But today, it is the monks who are under constant threat. The Italian soldiers of KFOR ensure the defense of the monastery. The monks may not venture beyond the security fence to visit their faithful unless they are accompanied by an armed escort. The condition of the other 25 monasteries and churches under KFOR protection is similar. Among the most precious holy places – and the ones most at risk – are the patriarchate of Pec, the monastery of Gracanica, and the cathedral of the Mother of God of Ljevisa, in Prizren.
Artemjie, the bishop of Raska and Prizren, the highest Orthodox authority in Kosovo, laments “the inexplicable silence of Christian and democratic Europe in the face of such grave crimes committed against a Christian and European people, which the Serbian people is.” And he accuses the Vatican of having been “amply implicated in the events” that produced the current situation.