Relations between Serbs and Albanians were not this bad in years, but all people in Kosovo can live in peace and harmony, Bishop of Raska-Prizren Teodosije assessed. „There is enough sky and earth and water and fields for everyone, but some people, cloistered in their ideologies, collective fears and prejudices, do not see the way to get out of that vicious circle,“ he recalled the words of Metropolitan Amfilohije.
„We from the Church, both before and during the war, and also after the war in Kosovo, constantly testified that we must live together and that there must be respect for each other. We have been here together for centuries, and in this situation of intolerance, it will be difficult to stay in this area and find a peaceful future. That is why we must find a way forward through dialogue and solve problems, and not through force and threats because that only leads to further conflicts,“ the Bishop said in an interview for Jedinstvo weekly newspaper.
According to the bishop, the Eparchy in Kosovo endeavors to have good relations with all other religious representatives and their communities.
At the same time, he emphasized that it is important for religious representatives not to fuel political narratives and conflicts. Instead, they should call for peace and coexistence and mutual respect.
He revealed that the Church has not gotten any negative comments from representatives of the Islamic community for many years while acknowledging the fact that there is a lack of communication between neighbors and fellow citizens at the local level – „beyond any political or national influence“.
„Christianity and Islam, despite the numerous differences in the understanding of God, have a lot in common. We believe that by nurturing what we have in common, first of all, as people, we can get closer to each other and make sure, as much as we can, that all people in Kosovo, regardless of their religion, live peacefully,“ the bishop pointed out.
Addressing the relations with the Roman Catholic Church, the bishop said that they have much improved after 2018, recalling the time when the Diocese faced problems that year after holding a service on the foundations of the Church of St. Nikola in Novo Brdo.
„The position of our Church and the Vatican is that Christians in particular should not be in conflict, because there is a small number of us in these areas. On our part, we will do everything in our power to improve interreligious relations. For now, it is a good thing that political disagreements are not of religious nature,“ said Bishop Teodosije.
Unfortunately, a large number of Kosovo Albanians are not on amicable terms with the Serbs.
„Relations between Serbs and Albanians were not this bad for years. There have been frequent attacks on Serb property, robberies, false accusations, denial of our property and human rights, and even the laws of Kosovo.“
Speaking about the conditions Kosovo Serbs live in, he reiterated that they are difficult, stressing the fact that Serbs are not returning to Kosovo. He emphasizes that the Church encourages the Serbs not to sell their property.
„Towns south of the Ibar River are almost empty of Serb population, younger people find it increasingly difficult to see their future here. But the fact is that the problem we have here is largely a reflection of the problems faced by many people in the world. That is why we constantly encourage our people not to sell their property, to stay here, because moving does not automatically bring success and prosperity. We mentioned to them those values and ideals that inspired our people to survive, in much more difficult conditions, for centuries,“ he points out.
It is the church’s duty to connect people, convince them that we are all one family together and that we should live following those values that have sustained us for centuries – he added.
„Many had to leave, or left in search of a better life and they did not find peace. Man is a heavenly being and earthly tranquility and security are not the only things he needs. Here, life is more modest and difficult, but there are many other things that we have here, living in these sacred areas, which invite numerous devotees and people from all over the world. We need to look at where we live, and not just strive for fleeting and material values.“
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