Saint Patron’s Day celebrated in the Church of Christ the Savior in Pristina for the first time since ’98

Foto: Eparhija raško-prizrenska

For the first time in 23 years, Saint Patron’s Day of the Christ the Savior was celebrated in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Pristina today. The liturgy was served by the Bishop of Raska and Prizren, Teodosije.

The great Christian holiday of the Salvation was celebrated for the first time since 1998 in the unfinished cathedral in Pristina.

„By serving the liturgy today in this cathedral, we testify who we are, who we were, and who we should be in the future. We testify that we will never give up our holy sites, that they belong to us, representing a pledge of our eternal life,” the Bishop of Raska and Prizren, Teodosije emphasized.

Although only a small number of us gathered here, we are the seed for some future Christians and some better times when this cathedral will be completed and jam-packed with believers – he added.

The Bishop recalled that several cathedrals in Moscow, Belgrade, Banja Luka, Visoki Decani, Prizren are dedicated to the Ascension of Christ.

The church in the center of Pristina was built in the 1990s as the main city cathedral. It was designed by the architect Spasoje Krunic.

After the end of the 1999 conflict, the church was mined. However, it did not sustain any major damage at the time. British members of KFOR then secured this unfinished church, only to withdraw from the site in the meantime.

The Church of Christ the Savior, whose construction began in 1990 only to be suspended in 1998 due to the outbreak of war in Kosovo, was repeatedly subjected to attacks, while several attempts were made to mine the church. At one point, the church was even used as a public toilet. A music video was filmed at the site, and in 2015, and the walls of the church served as „rock-climbing walls“.

The church has repeatedly emphasized that it will treat any attack on the cathedral as an open attack on the Serbian Orthodox Church.

For years, however, this cathedral has been the subject of a dispute between the Kosovo public and the authorities, that is, a dispute with the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Almost four years ago, the University of Pristina, which is located near the church, sued the Serbian Orthodox Church for the alleged usurpation of more than four hectares of university land.

As the land is officially owned by the Orthodox Church „St. Nicholas“, the Diocese responded to the lawsuit of the University of Pristina with a counter-lawsuit. In 2017, the University lost the first lawsuit, while the hearing scheduled to be held in March this year before the Basic Court in Pristina was postponed, the Kosovo media reported.

The unfinished Church of Christ the Savior in Pristina has been a frequent topic in the Kosovo media and the public addresses of politicians for years.

Along with frequent claims that the cathedral was illegally built, it is also being brought into connection with the rule of Slobodan Milosevic, as a result of which initiatives were brought about for its demolition.

On the other hand, the Diocese of Raska and Prizren states that it has detailed documentation with permits and sources from the cadastre proving that it is the rightful owner of the land and the unfinished church. The Diocese also revealed that all documentation related to the construction of the church and land ownership has been submitted to all international institutions in Kosovo.

The Diocese of Raska and Prizren emphasized today that it remains persistent, along with the believers, in its efforts to complete this church as soon as possible and to serve liturgies in it.

Liturgy condemned in Pristina

The Kosovo media also reported about today’s gathering in this church in Pristina. They highlighted that the church was built „during the regime of Slobodan Milosevic.“

Some Kosovo politicians, as well as CDHRF, also reacted.

Daut Haradinaj, a future candidate for mayor of Pristina, described the event as „an insult to the citizens of Kosovo“ and a provocation. Haradinaj also called on the government and the municipality to react immediately.

In its reaction, the Council for the Defence of Human Rights and Freedoms, better known as CDHRF, also used the same words – „insult“ and „provocation“ for students.

According to CDHRF, the fact that the service was organized in an unfinished building with an unregulated legal status is a „manipulation“. This organization is also known for its recent attack on the abbot of Visoki Decani, Sava Janjic.

The leader of Kosovo’s Democratic Party, Enver Hoxhaj, says that the liturgy was held with the permission of the government of Kosovo.

He also added that the „character of the state of Kosovo is now endangered“ and that „new topics have been opened“ in the dialogue with Belgrade, which is set to continue on June 15th.

Commenting on today’s ceremony in the church in Pristina, Hoxhaj underlined that „this liturgy is at least religious“, while also arguing that „everything related to it is political, aimed only at distorting history, the truth and justifying a genocidal regime like Milosevic’s“.

“Organizing a deeply political liturgy 22 years after the war, when the wounds of the pain of the war are still open, and doing so with the full approval of Kurti’s government, is painful and unacceptable,” he concluded.

Rron Gjinovci, a civil society activist from Pristina, also reacted. In a Facebook post, Gjinovci stated that if the Kosovan government knew about and allowed the liturgy to be held – “it must now prepare a long explanation.”

“Although I don’t know what kind of justification it can give,” he stressed.

Read more:

Reactions from Pristina to the liturgy in the Church of Christ the Savior: Provocations will not be tolerated, protest to be held today

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