In the interview published by the daily newspaper, “Politika” on January 20, 2020, in which Ms. Radmila Milentijevic, who was supposed to talk about the life and persona of Serbian scientist, Mihajlo Pupin, gave unsolicited and uncalled for statements which are unsubstantiated, untrue and hindering. Namely, answering to a question posed by the journalist, “What is the current disposition of our Diaspora?”, Ms. Milentijevic responded, out of context with the given topic of the interview, with a charging list of accusations against the person of His Grace, the Bishop of Eastern America, Kyr Irinej, and His Archpastoral service on the Cathedra of the Diocese of Eastern America. In response to the cited question of the journalist, the above mentioned Ms Milentijevic presented unsubstantiated allegations stating that Bishop Irinej “personally ravaged the Serbian spiritual nucleus in New York City”.
In this regard, it is necessary to present the truth to the public, which is what we will do here, relying on the official statement of the Diocese of the East American Serbian Orthodox Church.
Let’s go back to the beginning
This issue dates back to 2016, to the day of the Resurrection of Christ, when an unquenchable fire nearly destroyed the Sava Cathedral in New York, causing a huge wound to the Serbian Orthodox community in New York. We remind you that this happens before the arrival of Bishop Irinej on the throne of the Diocese of East American.
In addition, the parish home building was no longer able to be used to bring together the faithful of the New York Community, as it pretty much collapsed under the tooth of the weather. It is for this reason that the Bishop, considering the complete situation of the parish, in accordance with the ecclesiastical constitution, set up a parish Trusteeship, composed of experts in various fields, in order to restore not only the temple but also the living Christian community with the utmost caution.
A house in suburban New York was purchased legally
The current residence of the Diocese of East American, was purchased from the sale of the previous residence and diocesan assets. The allegations are false that the bishop “dissolved the parish in New York and spent a great deal of money.” All funds earmarked for the construction of the New York Cathedral and the New York community in general were used solely for the reconstruction of the temple and the maintenance of the parish.
Today, thank God, the number of parishioners is constantly increasing. Unfortunately, these and similar allegations made by Ms. Milentijevic are no novelty, as she has previously asserted such and similar accusations against other bishops and priests who served at the altar of the Cathedral Church in New York City.
Also note the fact that the residence, by the goodness of its previous owners, was purchased at almost half the price, which is a profit that is well understood by all those who know New York standards. Suffice it to mention, that any average apartment in the city of New York requires a higher price than the one for which the Diocesan Residence was purchased. In addition, the former owners were especially blessed to learn that their former home would become the Diocesan Center of a church, and on that occasion, they decided to donate to the Diocese a significant portion of the stylish furniture now in the residence. Bishop Irinej also decided to donate to the Diocese his personal valuable art objects, which he had collected for years. Because of all this, the Diocese of East American prides itself on thanking God again for having a dignified and representative Diocese Center, where he can host his faithful, clergy and monks, high guests and all who knock on her door without at least ashamed.
The residence of the Diocese of East American is located in New Rochelle, one of the suburbs of New York City, in a building erected in 1926. It is not a castle, but in fact a house with rooms that served the needs of its previous owners additionally built, and which has neither, nor ever had a swimming pool. It is not only the residence but also the Diocesan Center of the Diocese of East American, with all its elements. Due to its specific and spacious interior, the house has proven to be the perfect candidate for accommodation for the Diocesan Residence and the Diocesan Center for several reasons.
The first and the most important reason is to carry out, by conscientious intention and ex officio, the decision of the Holy Bishops’ Council of May 2011, passed five years before the accession to the throne of the bishops of East American Bishops. Irinea, which was ordered to move the seat of the Diocese of East American from Mars in Pennsylvania, to the cities of Washington or New York.
The second and equally important reason for the relocation of the Diocesan Center to New Rochelle is related to the payment of state tax. Thanks to the conscientious leadership and experience of the members of the Diocesan Council, headed by the bishop, the enormous advantage and importance of this building over the previous residence in New Jersey for which the Diocese had earmarked significant sums of money to pay its annual tax, as well as the previous residences in the state of Pennsylvania was recognized in time. The Diocese of East American does not pay property taxes now.
The third reason is that the seat of the present Diocesan residence has an ideally constructed room for the Diocesan Chapel, which will hold daily worship services and be able to receive a significant number of believers through this fact.
Much of the residence space is occupied by offices, episcopal and diocesan deacons and clerks. As with all other diocesan centers and residences of our Church, this Diocesan residence has its own library, housed in five rooms of the building. The Diocese is gradually realizing the project of digitizing the entire library, and at the same time registering the Diocesan Archives, located in the spacious attic of the house.
Part of the house is occupied by the Diocesan Treasury, as well as a bookstore, which also includes a warehouse with supplies needed to supply church-school municipalities and monasteries of the Diocese of East American. The residence also has a festive dining room, as well as reception rooms, located in the central part of the building. The Diocesan Conakry has bedrooms, designed to serve as a lodging for guests who come to visit the Diocese.
All of the above-mentioned segments housed in the building are intended to do only one thing, namely the performance of a church, educational, and church-diplomatic mission in the eastern part of the American continent, comprising the Diocese of East American.
They serve no purpose other than those above mentioned and are a long-term pledge for the blessed future of all Orthodox believers, the Diocese of the Diocese of East American, Serbian Orthodox Church.
- The decision to relocate the Diocese’s residence was made in 2011, five years before Bishop Irinej even took office.
- The real estate of which Ms. Milentijevic disputes was purchased through legal means, and the money came from the sale of previous residence and from diocesan funds.
- The house was bought at half the price. Former owners donated furniture.
- Bishop Irinej donated his artwork, which he had collected and received during many years.
- This is not a downtown New York residence, but a spacious home in its suburbs.
- It is thanks to this decision that the Diocese does not have to pay property taxes.
- Due to the vastness of the house and property, the seat of the Diocesan Residence is also ideal for the Diocesan Chapel, making it a dignified and representative Diocesan Center.
The editorial board of the Sabornik urges colleagues in the media to, when they convey such allegations, first verify the truth of those allegations. At least this is easy nowadays, when accurate information can be obtained in just a few clicks and calls. As for Mrs. Radmila Milentijevic and her campaign against the Diocese of East American, only she knows the answer to the matter of why she does it.