Some portals have announced that, alongside the head of the SOC, member of the Synod, Bishop Jovan (Mladenovic) of Sumadija, as well as Metropolitan of Zagreb-Ljubljana, Porphyria (Peric), will be going to the United States. The same sources speculate about, as stated, planned “disciplining” of Serbian bishops in the US for allegedly amending the SOC Constitution.
Serbian bishops with dioceses in the United States say they are “completely at peace with the arrival of the Synod Delegation” and claim that only a proposal to amend the Constitution of the SOC Council was sent through the Synod last summer.
On the complaint that three bishops have proclaimed the new Constitution and thus violated the canon law, most believers of the Serbian Orthodox Church in America point out that the bishops acted in accordance with a decision of the Holy Bishops’ Council of May 2018 that read: “approve the territorial restriction of the SOC Constitution in the United States exclusively to the Serbian Orthodox dioceses in the United States of America.” And the continuation of the parliamentary decision obliges the bishops to prepare a new version of the Constitution: “Ask the concerned Episcopal Council to take all necessary measures, with respect to certain regulations and powers in the aforementioned Constitution, and subject to the approved restriction, to effect the necessary amendments to this Constitution.”
An updated copy of the Constitution was distributed to delegates during the “American Council” held last July. It was meant only in order to give everyone an insight into the drafting of the future Constitution. To defend the truth and unity, the bishops pointed out that they had never, since July’s 2019 Church Council, announced any official, written decision declaring the Old Episcopal Constitution made in 2008 invalid, nor did they declare the one updated and printed in 2019 as the only valid constitutional document. They knew that Holy and Great Synod of Bishops was a major and indispensable step towards the adoption or non-adoption of a new Constitution.
During October 2019, twenty Serbian Bishops have called for an extraordinary Council meeting to be convened and for various reasons. This has been repeatedly requested in recent months by the Episcopal Council in Montenegro because of the situation following the adoption of the controversial religious freedom law in this former Yugoslav republic.
The Synod, chaired by Patriarch Irinej, rejected all requests for an extraordinary Council session.
The SOC news service announced this week that “because of a previously planned trip to the US, the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church will not be able to visit believers and bishops in Montenegro” even though the Patriarch himself had actually previously confirmed his arrival to St. Simeon’s Litany in Montenegro (which will include Metropolitan of Kiev Onufri) to the Metropolitan of Montenegrin-coastal Amfilohije.
The Extraordinary Council of America is to be convened at St. George’s Church in Clearwater, at the request of the SOC Synod.
Bishops in America welcome the arrival of the Patriarch
The Episcopal Council of the Serbian Orthodox Church for North, Central and South America have issued a press release and welcomed the faithful people, informing them “that His Holiness the Patriarch of Serbian Ortodox Church, Mr. Irinej, will attend the upcoming Extraordinary Church Council, scheduled for February 29 in Clearwater, Florida, alongside two distinguished members of the Holy Synod of Bishops.”
“We who have been by God’s Promise put in this place of the Land of Lord, welcome the arrival of our Patriarch, who, as the Head of our Serbian Orthodox Church, will lead the liturgical celebration, preside over the Council and greet all of us, directing words of love and syllabus and witnessing our Orthodox and Sovereign unity. Therefore, we invite you all to greet the Holy Patriarch who comes to visit us, “the elect who roams the scattering, by the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctification of the Spirit for the obedience of Jesus Christ, for the multiplication of grace and peace…” the Bishop of Novogracanica-Midwestern Longin stated.