Tag Archives: Patriarch Pavle

An appeal to forbid the blessing of weapons

The following letter was sent by the Orthodox Peace Fellowship to Patriarch Pavle, leading bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church, on July 24, 1995:

Your Holiness, Beloved Patriarch Pavle,

Responding to the outbreak of war in former Yugoslavia, in 1992 the Holy Synod directed that several petitions be added to the Great Litany during Liturgy, Vespers and Matins. One petition appeals to the Lord on behalf on “all those who commit injustice against their neighbors, whether by causing sorrow to orphans or spilling innocent blood or by returning hatred for hatred,” asking that “God will grant them repentance, enlighten their minds and hearts and illumine their souls with the light of love even towards their enemies.”

We think of this urgent prayer while regarding what has happened in the past several years while the war has continued and so many innocent people have been killed, wounded, raped, beaten, so many homes and places of worship destroyed, so many driven from their homes and made refugees by those who wanted only people of a particular national background to remain. Adding to the tragedy has been the conviction of many fighters on each side that his actions were a justifiable defense of his religion. Indeed often they have heard their actions praised by pastors of the several religious traditions.

Against the background of such tragic events, we appeal to the Holy Synod to go further in making clear that the Church does not sanction actions which create orphans and widows, acts of violence against neighbors, and the spilling of innocent blood.

Specifically we propose that the Synod require that no use be made of a service for blessing weapons included in an edition of the Book of Needs published in Kosovo in 1993. In the context of ongoing events occurring in neighboring republics of former Yugoslavia, the blessing of weapons can only be regarded as sanctioning the use of weapons in a fratricidal war.

More than that, we appeal to the Synod to declare that any baptized person who shoots at or abuses non-combatants, who puts the populations of cities and towns under siege, who impedes the distribution of food, medicine and other necessities of life, who commits acts of violence against the civil population or against captive soldiers, or who drives people of other ethnic groups from their homes, is violating the law of Christ and is not permitted to receive communion and cannot be restored to communion until his sincere repentance is recognized. Let it be clear to all that the Church calls all its children to respect the well-being of their neighbors, no matter what their religion or their ethnic background.

We hope such an action by the Serbian Orthodox Church will meet with similar responses from other religious bodies whose children are caught up in the fighting.

Your Holiness: We are living in a time of moral collapse in which the countries traditionally associated with Orthodoxy are not exempt. May the bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church be remembered as apostles whose words and deeds communicated to one and all the love of God for each person.

Your Holiness, we would like to ask you to discuss this letter with your fellow hierarchs at the next meeting of the Holy Synod.

We ask your blessing and prayers.

+ Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia, Assistant Bishop, Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain (Ecumenical Patriarchate)

Archpriest Theodoor van der Voort

Margot Mutz, President, Orthodox Peace Fellowship

Archpriest Dr Sergii Hackel

James Forest, Secretary, Orthodox Peace Fellowship

Father Heikki Huttunen, President, Syndesmos International

Father Michel Evdokimov, Secretary of the Assembly of Orthodox Bishops in France

Father Thomas Hopko, Dean, St. Vladimir’s Seminary, Crestwood, NY

Olivier Clément, Professor of Theology, Institute of St. Serge, Paris

Nicolas Lossky, Professor of Theology, Institute of St. Serge, Paris

Elisabeth Behr-Sigel, Orthodox theologian, Paris

Father Stephen Peter Tsichlis, pastor, Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption, Seattle, Washington

Father Yves Dubois, Bath, England

Deacon Patrick & Helena Radley, Transfiguration Russian Orthodox Church, Great Walsingham, England

Mariquita Platov, Secretary, Orthodox Peace Fellowship – USA

Philip Tamoush, member of the Executive Board, Orthodox People Together USA

Father Anthony Coniaris, President, Light & Life Publishing Co., USA

Father Alexis Voogd, rector, St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, Amsterdam

Father Lambert van Dinteren, pastor, Sts. John Chrysostom and Servatios Orthodox Church, Maastricht

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Here is a translation of a letter sent to Patriarch Pavle. Please correct any mistakes in the translation. We are fortunate to have a neighbor who did this for us but he is not a theologian and has very little background in Church life. We hope that nonetheless the basic content and spirit of our letter is preserved.

Vaša Svetosti, Voljeni Patrijarše Pavle,Kao odgovor na izbijanje rata u bivšoj Jugoslaviji, Sveti Sinod je 1992. godine odlučio da se neke molitve dodaju Velikoj Litaniji u toku Liturgije, Večernja i Jutrenja. Jedna od njih je molitva Gospodu u ime “svih onih koji čine nepravdu svojim susedima, bilo da ožalošćuju siročad, bilo da prolivaju nevinu krv ili mržnjom uzvraćaju na mržnju,” moleći da im “Bog podari samilost, da obasja njihove misli i srca i prosvetli njihove duše svetlošću ljubavi za prema njihe nerijatelje.”

Mislimo o ovoj preko potrebnoj Molitvi, osvrćući se na ono što se desilo u proteklih nekoliko godina dok je rat neprekidno trajao i tako mnogo nevinih ljudi ubijeno, ranjeno, silovano, pretučeno, tako mnogo svetih mesta uništeno, tako mnogo izbeglih, koje su proterali oni koji žele da tu ostanu samo ljudi odredjenog nacionalnog porekla. Tragediju je uvećalo uverenje mnogih boraca na svim stranama, da su njihova dela pravedna odbrana njihovih religija.I zaista su često sveštenici raznih vera dizali u nebo njihova dela.

Bez obzira na pozadinu tako tragičnih dogadjaja, molimo Sveti Sinod da i dalje objašnjava da Crkva ne odobrava dela koja stvaraju siročad i udovice, dela nasilja protiv suseda i prolivanje nevine krvi.

Posebno predlažemo Sinodu da zahteva da se ne koristi služba blagosiljanja oružja koja se nalazi u jednom izdanju Velikog

Trebnika sa Kosova iz 1993. godine. Sobzirom na ono što se upravo dešava u susednim republikama bivše Jugoslavije, blagosiljanje oružja jedino može biti shvaćeno kao odobravanje upotrebe oružja u bratoubilačkom ratu.

Šta više, molimo Sinod da objavi da bilo koja krštena osoba koja puca na nekog ili povredi nekoga ko nije borac, koja stavi stanovnike gradova i naselja u opsadu, koja ometa raspodelu hrane, lekova i drugih neophodnosti za život, koja počini delo nasilja protiv civilnog stanovništva ili zarobljenih vojnika, ili koja izgoni ljude drugih etničkih grupa iz njihovih domova, krši zakon Hristov i da joj neće biti dopušteno da primi peičest i da se ne može ponovo pričestiti sve dok se ne uvidi njeno iskreno kajanje. Neka svima bude jasno da Crkva poziva svu svoju decu da poštuju dobrobit svojih suseda bez obzira na njihovu versku ili etničku pripadnost.

Nadamo se da će ovakav postupak Srpske pravoslavne crkve naići na istovetne odgovore drugih verskih zajednica čija su deca zahvaćena ratom.

Vaša svetosti: mi živimo u vreme moralnog pada od koga zemlje tradicionalno vezane za pravoslavlje nisu izuzete. Mogu li episkopi Srpske pravoslavne crkve biti upamćeni kao apostoli čije reči i dela saopštavaju svakom i svima ljubav božiju za svaku ličnost.

Vaša Svetosti, mi Vas molimo da razmotrite ovo pismo sa Vašim poglavarima na sledećem saboru Svetog Sinoda.

Molimo Vas za blagoslov i molitve.

U Alkmaru, 24. 7. 1995. god.

U medjuvremenu naše pismo potpisali su I ovi ljudi dobre volje.

+ Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia, Assistant Bishop, Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain (Ecumenical Patriarchate)

Archpriest Theodoor van der Voort, Deventer, the Netherlands

Archpriest Dr Sergei Hackel, editor, Sobornost; UK

Margot Mutz, President, Orthodox Peace Fellowship

James Forest, Secretary, Orthodox Peace Fellowship

Archpriest Heikki Huttunen, President, Syndesmos

Father Michel Evdokimov, Secretary of the Assembly of Orthodox Bishops in France

Father Thomas Hopko, Dean, St. Vladimir’s Seminary, Crestwood, New York, USA

Olivier Clément, Professor of Theology, Institute of St. Serge, Paris

Nicolas Lossky, Professor of Theology, Institute of St. Serge, Paris

Father Stephen Peter Tsichlis, pastor, Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption, Seattle, Washington, USA

Father Yves Dubois, Bath, England

Father Anthony Coniaris, President, Light & Life Publishing Co., USA

Father Alexis Voogd, St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, Amsterdam

Philip Tamoush, member of the Executive Board, Orthodox People Together, USA

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Cyrillic text:

Ваша Светости, Вољени Патријарше Павле̦

Као одговор на избијање рата у бившој Југославији̦ Свети Синод је 1992. године одлучио да се неке молитве додају Великој Литанији за време Литургије, Вечерња и Јутрења. Jеднa oд њих jе мoлитвa Гoспoду у име “свих oних кojи чине непрaвду свojим суседимa, билo дa oжaлoшћуjу сирoчaд, билo дa прoливajу невину крв или мржњoм узврaћajу нa мржњу”, мoлећи дa им “Бoг пoдaри сaмилoст, дa oбaсja њихoве мисли и срцa и прoсветли њихoве душе светлoшћу љубaви чак и зa њихoве нериjaтеље.”

Мислимo o oвoj прекo пoтребнoj Мoлитви, oсврћући се нa oнo штo се десилo у прoтеклих некoликo гoдинa дoк jе рaт непрекиднo трajao и тaкo мнoгo невиних људи убиjенo, рaњенo, силoвaнo, претученo, тaкo мнoгo светих местa уништенo, тaкo мнoгo избеглих, кojе су прoтерaли oни кojи желе дa ту oстaну сaмo људи oдређенoг нaциoнaлнoг пoреклa. Трaгедиjу jе увећaлo уверење мнoгих бoрaцa нa свим стрaнaмa, дa су њихoвa делa прaведнa oдбрaнa њихoвих религиja. И зaистa су честo свештеници рaзних верa дизaли у небo њихoвa делa.

Без oбзирa нa пoзaдину тaкo трaгичних дoгaђaja, мoлимo Свети Синoд дa и дaље oбjaшњaвa дa Црквa не oдoбрaвa делa кoja ствaрajу сирoчaд и удoвице, делa нaсиљa прoтив суседa и прoливaње невине крви.

Пoсебнo предлaжемo Синoду дa зaхтевa дa се не кoристи службa блaгoсиљaњa oружja кoja се нaлaзи у jеднoм издaњу Великoг Требникa сa Кoсoвa из 1993. гoдине. С oбзирoм нa oнo штo се упрaвo дешaвa у суседним републикaмa бивше Jугoслaвиjе, блaгoсиљaње oружja jединo мoже бити схвaћенo кao oдoбрaвaње упoтребе oружja у брaтoубилaчкoм рaту.

Штa више, мoлимo Синoд дa oбjaви дa билo кoja крштенa oсoбa кoja пуцa нa некoг или пoвреди некoгa кo ниjе бoрaц, кoja стaви стaнoвнике грaдoвa и нaсељa у oпсaду, кoja oметa рaспoделу хрaне, лекoвa и других неoпхoднoсти зa живoт, кoja пoчини делo нaсиљa прoтив цивилнoг стaнoвништвa или зaрoбљених вojникa, или кoja изгoни људе других етничких групa из њихoвих дoмoвa, крши зaкoн Христoв и дa joj неће бити дoпуштенo дa прими причест и дa се не мoже пoнoвo причестити све дoк се не увиди њенo искренo кajaње. Некa свимa буде jaснo дa Црквa пoзивa сву свojу децу дa пoштуjу дoбрoбит свojих суседa без oбзирa нa њихoву верску или етничку припaднoст.

Нaдaмo се дa ће oвaкaв пoступaк Српске прaвoслaвне цркве нaићи нa истoветне oдгoвoре других верских зajедницa чиja су децa зaхвaћенa рaтoм.

Вaшa Светoсти: ми живимo у време мoрaлнoг пaдa oд кoгa земље трaдициoнaлнo везaне зa прaвoслaвље нису изузете. Мoгу ли епискoпи Српске прaвoслaвне цркве бити упaмћени кao aпoстoли чиjе речи и делa сaoпштaвajу свaкoм и свимa љубaв бoжиjу зa свaку личнoст.

Вaшa Светoсти, ми Вaс мoлимo дa рaзмoтрите oвo писмo сa Вaшим пoглaвaримa нa следећем сaбoру Светoг Синoдa.

Мoлимo Вaс зa блaгoслoв и мoлитве.

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Patriarch Pavle: A Saint Who Walked

by Danny Abbott

Orthodox Christians lost a fearless bishop with the death November 15 of Patriarch Pavle, long-time leader of the Serbian Orthodox Church. A man of exceptional humility and a tireless voice for peace in the Balkans, he was widely regarded by his fellow Serbs and many others as a living saint.

Born Gojko Stojcević in Croatia, orphaned in childhood, he was raised by an aunt. He graduated from a Belgrade gymnasium, then studied at the seminary in Sarajevo. During World War II, he took refuge in the Holy Trinity Monastery in Ovcar. After the war, he worked as a construction worker in Belgrade, then entered monastic life at Blagoveštenje monastery in Ovcar where he took the name Pavle. He lectured at Prizen Seminary, then went to Athens for two years of study of the New Testament and Liturgics, writing prolifically on the latter subject.

In 1957, he was ordained archimandrite and later that year consecrated bishop of the Diocese of Raška and Prizen. At this time, he began speaking of the trouble brewing in the Balkans and of the plight of Kosovo. In 1990, he was made Patriarch. (Strips of paper with the names of three candidates were placed on the altar. Two were blown away ( his alone was left; thus his selection.)

One of the most striking indications of his commitment to ascetic life was his refusal to have or use a car. He declared he would own a car only after the last person in Kosovo had one. As a result, he was often referred to as “the saint who walks.” As Patriarch, Pavle was noted for appearing late to parish visits because he insisted on taking the bus.

In 1989, at a time when relations between ethnic Albanians and Serbs were getting more tense, he was beaten by a group of Albanians and hospitalized for several months. He refused to press charges against the assailants.

In the years of violent conflict in the Balkans, the western press, ignoring Pavle’s words and actions, often accused him of failing to speak out against unbridled Serbian nationalism.

“If we live as people of God,” he said in one widely unreported statement, “there will be room for all nations in the Balkans and in the world. If we liken ourselves to Cain who killed his brother Abel, then the entire earth will be too small even for two people. The Lord Jesus Christ teaches us to be always children of God and love one another.”

Pavle’s desire for inter-ethnic peace in the Balkans was evident and apparent to all who knew or met him. When Jim Forest, as secretary of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship, first met him in 1994, Pavle recalled his long-standing friendships with Jews and Muslim going back to his youth, especially when he lived in Sarajevo. He stressed his readiness “at any moment” to meet with anyone who could help bring the Balkans “a centimeter closer to peace.”

While there were Serbian clergy who were partisans in the conflicts that broke up Yugoslavia, Pavle never condoned or authorized anyone to take sides with any group shedding blood or sanctioned any priest’s blessing of anyone’s weapons. He stated in 1995, “In the context of ongoing events occurring in neighboring republics of former Yugoslavia, the blessing of weapons can only be regarded as sanctioning the use of weapons in a fratricidal war.”

On occasion he broke with the Church’s tradition of neutrality regarding the government by openly opposing Milošević.

In the early 90s, Vuk Drašković, now Serbia’s Deputy Prime Minister, was among the first Serbian politicians to accuse the Milošević government of war crimes. He and his wife were badly beaten and jailed for their stand. In 1993, Pavle wrote to Milošević pleading for Drašković’s release. In 1997, the Patriarch led an anti-government march, preventing a police attack on protesting students.

In 2000, Pavle called upon Slobodan Milošević to resign. Once the Milošević-led government was removed from power, Pavle welcomed the new government.

Patriarch Pavle’s contributions to the Orthodox Church are difficult to measure. The amount of material he wrote on various topics such as liturgics and feasts could fill many books. Moreover, he oversaw a Serbian translation of the New Testament in 1984. He was able to heal the Serbian Church’s schism with the Free Serbian Orthodox Church and actively sought to heal the schism with the Macedonian Orthodox Church.

The last two years of Pavle’s life were spent in hospital while his duties were carried out by Metropolitan Amfilohije. Patriarch Pavle’s death was followed by a national three-day period of mourning.

Upon his death, condolences were sent by Pope Benedict, Jewish and Muslim leaders, and leaders representing the entire Orthodox world. Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople remarked: “None in this noisy era spoke so softly and yet was heard so widely as he. None spoke less and yet said more. None in our delusional age confronted truth with such calmness as he.”

Danny Abbott received his law degree from the University of Arkansas. He is a member of St. Elizabeth the New Martyr Orthodox Christian Church in Murfreesboro Tennessee.

Winter Issue IC 55 2010
IN COMMUNION 55 / FEAST OF ST. BASIL THE GREAT / JANUARY 2010

Several statements, prayers and appeals of Patriarch Pavle

-- Patriarch Pavle, speaking at a news conference June 28, 1999, at the 14th-century Orthodox monastery in Gracanica
— Patriarch Pavle, speaking at a news conference June 28, 1999, at the 14th-century Orthodox monastery in Gracanica

“If the only way to create a greater Serbia is by crime, then I do not accept that, and let that Serbia disappear. And also if a lesser Serbia can only survive by crime, let it also disappear. And if all the Serbs had to die and only I remained and I could live only by crime, then I would not accept that; it would be better to die.”

Here is a small collection from the writings and sermons of Patriarch Pavle.

Memorial service in February 1992 for war victims:

Today, on this the Sunday following the feast of St. Sava, as on every other Sunday, brothers and sisters, the Holy Church celebrates the weekly commemoration of the greatest event of our salvation, the Resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Sunday is for every week what the Feast of Easter is for the whole year.

Before the Son of God, the One Who out of love for us and for our salvation was Crucified on the Cross and Resurrected by His Divine power, we prayed today, for the peace of the whole world, for the salvation of our souls, and for all our fathers and brothers who have gone before us.

In particular we served a general requiem where we prayed for all the souls of our brothers and sisters and children who shed their blood and lost their lives in the terrible of this senseless war.

In humbleness of heart we pray to God to receive their souls mercifully and give them rest in the Kingdom of Heaven, where there is neither sickness, nor sorrow, nor sighing, but life reigns everlasting.

With tears and sighs we bemoan all those brothers and sisters who remained alive but were driven from their homes and are now refugees from their birth places; those who have been left physically and spiritually disabled. With tears we bemoan all the children left without the homes of their childhood, left without their childhood, and left without one or, in many cases, both parents.

While lamenting those closest to us by faith and blood, for all the hardship that came upon them, destroyed homes, churches, irretrievable destroyed treasures of historical and cultural significance, we lament the Croatian people also, for their misfortune and suffering as well as the destruction of their property and churches, their cultural and historical monuments, knowing that had we been better Christians and better men, this disaster could have bypassed us.

I appeal to you all, brothers and sisters, to spend this following week in fasting, in humility of heart, in prayer and repentance, that our conscience and mind at least be awakened from these tragedies, so that we see the teaching of the Gospel that it is not terrible to die for the sake of God’s righteousness, but it is terrible to die for the sake of sin, not seeing and feeling its horror and the need for repentance, the correction of our lives, the return to God’s way, the way of humanity, justice and truth.

Let us grasp the teaching of the Holy Apostle Paul, that one cannot accomplish good by evil means — a lesson our mothers taught us through the ages, warning us that evil never brings good. Oh, that God would help us to understand that we are human beings and that we must live as human beings, so that peace would come into in our country and bring to an end the killing of Serbs and Croatians.

Lord, give rest to the souls of Thy servants who have been killed, our brothers, sisters and children. Lord, show Your mercy to all, and upon us. Amen.

[S. M. / Translated from Pravoslavlje, February 15, 1992]

Petitions composed by Patriarch Pavle for inclusion in all services:

At the Great Litany:

“For the mercy of God for us, His unworthy servants, to keep us all from hatred and evil deeds, to implant in us unselfish love, whereby all may recognize that we are disciples of Christ and people of God, as were our saintly ancestors, so that we may always know to ally ourselves with the truth and justice of the Heavenly Kingdom, let us pray to the Lord.”

“For all those who committed injustice against their neighbor, whether they saddened the poor or spilled innocent blood, or returned hatred with hatred, that God grant them repentance, enlighten their minds and hearts, and illumine their souls with holy love even toward their enemies, let us pray to the Lord.

Litany of Fervent Supplications:

“O Lord, how many are the foes who war against us and say: ‘There is no help for them from God or from man.’ Lord, reach out Thy hand to us that we remain Thy people, both in faith and in works. If we must suffer, may it be on the road to Thy justice and Thy truth, and not because of our injustice or hatred toward anyone. Let us all say fervently, Lord have mercy.”

“Again we pray to God, the Savior of all men, even for our enemies, that the Lord who loves mankind turn them away from violence against our Orthodox people; that they not destroy our holy temples and graves, that they not kill our children and persecute our people, but that they also find the road to repentance, justice and salvation. Let us all say fervently, Lord have mercy.”

From the Introduction to the book, War Damage Sustained by Orthodox Churches in Serbian Areas of Croatia in 1991:

We cannot pass through this world without suffering and hardship. The history of mankind is filled with so much devastation caused by the elements, so much misery caused by man to his fellow man.

In the Holy Scriptures, God points many times to the suffering that awaits His faithful: In the world you have tribulation…; If they persecuted me, they will persecute you: let he who wants to go with me take up his cross and follow (Jn 16:33; 15:20). The Apostle Paul also says that we must enter the kingdom of God through many tribulations (Acts 14:22). The Apostle Peter even teaches that there is a difference between suffering for the sake of righteousness which, he says, is part of the suffering of Christ, and suffering for sins, and he warns the faithful: let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or a wrong-doer (1 Pet. 3:14; 4;15).

Not heeding this advice draws us into the madness of war that has befallen both the Croats and ourselves. It brings so much spilled blood and loss of lives, so many disabled persons, exiles and refugees, so many ruined material and cultural effects, so many destroyed churches, so many historical and cultural riches accumulated over the centuries that are lost forever.

The inestimable losses suffered, brought before our eyes and the eyes of the world, should jolt our senses and our conscience, and make us remember that we have been a Christian people for more than one thousand years, and that in so much time we have yet to learn the simplest teaching of Christianity: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Mt. 7:12). And what have we done with the essence of the faith, love, and love’s highest form, love for our enemies, which means rising to the stature of our Father’s hallowed Son who is in heaven, and the awareness that we are people of God, and to act accordingly. Let us try to achieve this. Then God will hear us and bring an end to the war, so that peace may reign in this turbulent world.

From an address by Patriarch Pavle on October 6, 1992, when he arrived in the US:

For over three decades as the Bishop of Ras-Prizren in the Kosovo-Metohija Province, I traveled by foot to many Albanian and Serbian homes to speak personally with them of peace. Due to the tragedy that has befallen the peoples of the former Yugoslavia, I once again must travel through the war-torn villages of my homeland, down Belgrade streets in protest of war, in search of peace. And now I have come to America to appeal for an end to suffering, for an end to this mindless war.

As you know, on May 27, as the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, over which I preside, condemned with great severity the hate-breeding nationalism that exists on all sides. We called on President Milosevic to step down, supported the Opposition parties’ boycott of elections, and urged them as I urge now that a government of national unity and salvation be created that will enjoy the confidence of all the people.

I come to you just having met with Cardinal Franjo Kuharic, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Zagreb on September 23. Together we appealed and demanded, on the basis of our spiritual position and moral responsibility, for an end to the violence. We condemned ethnic cleansing and the blasphemous destruction of all shrines and places of prayer, both Christian and Muslim….

I appeal to you, as I have appealed to Cardinal Kuharic and Islamic leader Reis-ul-ulimi Jakov, that each side must see the other, acknowledge each other’s suffering, and approach peace through just negotiations. I appeal to you, to pray to God for peace in our country, and that truth illumine the hearts and minds of all those in whose hands the destiny of my people lie.

From a letter of Patriarch Pavle to the Islamic reis-ul-ulemi Jakov Selimovski:

Your Eminence,

I received your letter of June 1 in which with great sorrow you set forth the misfortunes of the faithful of the Islamic community since the outbreak of this mindless war in Bosnia and Hercegovina. You number the thousands of Moslems that were killed, mainly unarmed citizens, women, children and elderly men. You also number those who were interned in camps in the vicinity of Sarajevo, Bratunac, Bosanska Krupa, Zvornik and other places. You said that “all this is happening to a people only because they have a different culture, because they confess the Islamic faith and because they express the will to be free as other peoples are.”

It is understandable that you, heading the Islamic faith community, see and feel the sufferings of your faithful brethren, as I, too, see and feel the sufferings of the Orthodox faithful, for they turn to me as to their spiritual father. But we must both see the other side, that the Orthodox and Catholics are suffering those same misfortunes. How many of them are in detention camps, how many wounded, how many killed, only because they belong to another nation, and to another faith, and because they also wish to be free as other nations are? And therefore they suffer at the hands of isolated individuals, brutes and criminals, whose behavior shows no regard for the faith to which they say they belong.

How many times have I begged and pleaded, spoken and written in the media, that peace must be obtained; that we begin to make a break with the killings and the evil, that we become the human beings that we are, and behave as men of faith in the one God of justice, truth and peace who calls us to righteousness and peace, but whose call goes unheeded.

From an interview in October 1992 in Niagara Falls, Ontario, quoted in the National Catholic Review:

Our goal must be not to see things only from one side, and have one rule by which we justify ourselves and another by which we judge our enemies, because then our enemies will do the same, and there will be no end. A crime committed by my brother is still a crime.

It is only the will of the devil that is served by this war, who through the ages is the killer of man and of everything good. We have the choice now whether to listen to him and follow his way, or to listen to God and follow His way.

Cain and Abel were the closest possible of human beings, brothers alone on the earth. And yet hatred occurred. Whether we are to be Cain or Abel depends on each of us, regardless of the pressures from the world or from our enemies. Our Lord came to this world to teach us how to be true human beings, how to become heavenly beings. His suffering and death give meaning to every instance of our suffering on the way to his justice. We should never fear dying for the sake of God’s justice; but we should fear committing evil, for such sinners are the walking dead of this world. God has one standard for us all.