NATO attack on Yugoslavia

several texts concerning the NATO attack on Yugoslavia:

Peace Appeal of the Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church

The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, meeting at the Patriarchate on March 23, issued the following statement regarding the threats over Kosovo and Metohija and the threatened bombing of Serbia and Yugoslavia:

Human experience, both old and new and most recently in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, shows that war and violence, particularly inter-ethnic, leaves in its wake only chaos and general misery, with long-lasting spiritual, moral and social consequences and unhealed wounds.

Aware of this, in the name of God we demand and beseech that all conflict in Kosovo and Metohija immediately cease, and that the problems there be resolved exclusively by peaceful and political means. The way of nonviolence and cooperation is the only way blessed by God in agreement with human and divine moral law and experience. Deeply concerned about the threatened Serbian cradle of Kosovo and Metohija and for all those who live there, and especially by the terrible threats of the world’s armed forced to bomb our Homeland, we would remind the responsible leaders of the international organizations that evil in Kosovo or anywhere else cannot be uprooted by even greater and more immoral evil: the bombing of one small but honorable European people. We cannot believe that the international organizations have become so incapable of devising ways for negotiation and human agreement that they must resort to ways which are dark and demeaning to human and national honor, ways which employ great violence in order to prevent a lesser evil and violence.

We pray the Lord of peace, the living and true God, in whose hands are judgement and justice, to give to all in Kosovo and Metohija, and throughout our Homeland and throughout the world, peace, justice, security in freedom, and to the powerful of the world understanding and wisdom.

For God’s mercy upon us

The Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church has directed that the following petitions be inserted into appropriate litanies at Vespers, Matins and the Divine Liturgy:

Into the Great Litany:

For God’s mercy upon us, His unworthy servants, that we may all be protected from hatred and evil actions, that we may have instilled in us unselfish love by which all shall know that we are disciples of Christ and God’s people, as were our holy ancestors, so that we may always know to decide for the truth and righteousness of the Heavenly Kingdom, let us pray to the Lord.

For all those who commit injustice against their neighbors, whether by causing sorrow to orphans or spilling innocent blood or by returning hatred for hatred, that God will grant them repentance, enlighten their minds and hearts and illumine their souls with the light of love even towards their enemies, let us pray to the Lord.

At the Augmented Litany:

O Lord, how many are our foes who battle against us and say: there is no help for them from God or man. O Lord, stretch forth Thy hands that we may remain Thy people in both faith and works. If we must suffer, let it by in the ways of Thy justice and Thy truth — let it not be because of our injustice or hatred against anyone. Let us all fervently say: Lord have mercy.

Again let us pray to God, the Savior of all men, also for our enemies — that our people Lord who loves mankind will turn them away from attacks on our Orthodox people, that they not destroy our churches and cemeteries, that they not kill our children or persecute our people, but that they too may turn to the way of repentance, justice and salvation. Let us all fervently say: Lord have mercy.

A Letter to President Clinton

Dear President Clinton,

I write on behalf of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship, an association of Orthodox Christians whose members live in various countries but chiefly in the United States and western Europe. We work to promote nonviolent resolution of conflict, care of environment, and the protection of fundamental human rights, the chief of these being the right to life itself.

We had hoped against hope you would not resort to a military attack on Yugoslav targets. Even now that it is underway, we urge you to call off the bombing and take a different course. We realize how difficult it is for a world leader to reverse himself, all the more so after months of threats. On the other hand, as Serbian opponents of President Milosevic will be the first to tell you, the strategy of bombing will be counterproductive and may lead to protracted war.

We appeal to you not only on behalf of Serbian advocates of democracy, but for the simplest of moral reasons: that innocent blood not be shed. As you well know, when bombs fall, even if every precaution is taken to direct them to purely military targets, many fall off target. The people most at risk in war are, always and everywhere, the most defenseless and least guilty members of society. Already a number of refugees who had been given shelter in an unused army barracks are among the dead.

The US appears to be once again wading into the quagmire of war and doing so blindfolded. It will be a very sad irony if you, who can vividly recall the process that resulted in America’s fiasco in Vietnam, are linked in the history books of the next century with a similar catastrophe in Europe.

in Christ’s peace,

James Forest

Secretary, Orthodox Peace Fellowship

25 March 1999