By the Grace of God, the Orthodox Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci and Serbian Patriarch, with all the hierarchs gathered at the regular annual session of the Holy Assembly of Bishops, sends this pastoral encyclical to the clergy, monastics and all sons and daughters of our Holy Church on the occasion of the celebration of the one hundredth anniversary of the reestablishment of canonical unity of the Serbian Patriarchate.
We greet you with joy, dear spiritual children, from one of the three historical headquarters of the Serbian patriarchs, from the God protected Sremski Karlovci, where we are liturgically celebrating the great jubilee of the one-hundredth anniversary of the renewal of the ancient Patriarchate of Pec, the unification of all the Serbian church regions, which were until then in various statuses and jurisdictions, into one Serbian Patriarchate, which, due to the epidemic, we were unable to celebrate in 2020.
Great is our joy in the Holy Spirit because, prayerfully mentioning our fathers who in these very Karlovci proclaimed the great act of the reestablishment of the unity of the Serbian Orthodox Church, we bear in mind that we are the spiritual descendants of those who brought the name of Christ to this part of present-day Serbia and established church life already in the Apostolic era. In the Epistle to the Romans, the Apostle Paul greets Andronicus, the first bishop of ancient Sirmium, near modern day Sremska Mitrovica, the seat of the ancient episcopate. In Sirmium, one of the four capitals of the Roman Empire, during the persecutions of Diocletian, the wreaths of martyrdom were received by the saints of God, Bishop Irinej, Deacon Dimitrije, five stone-cutters from Fruska Gora and many others whose names are listed among the saints and even more whose names are not written but are known to God. Their heirs, in the 1500th Year of the Lord, reestablished the Diocese of Srem, on Nemanjic roots, by the blessed saints heralding from the Brankovic family, with an abundance of talents bestowed by God. From the beautiful monasteries of Fruska Gora, which they either built or renovated, to the reliquary of St. Prince Lazar, the reliquary of the Holy King Uros Nemanjic and the reliquary of the Holy Brankovices of Krusedol, the Metropolitanate of Karlovci emerged, and then the Patriarchate, which formed a solid church structure and was the key initiator of the spiritual and overall social and cultural development of our people all the way until the victory in the Great War.
Since the unlawful and violent abolition of the Patriarchate of Pec in 1766, the Serbian Orthodox Church had been divided into metropolitanates and dioceses within various states, but even under those conditions each church organizational unit cared for the preservation of the spiritual and national identity of its flock, ensuring the survival of the Serbian people. She did that at the cost of the greatest sacrifices, constantly fanning the flame of hope that all Orthodox Serbs will gather again under the omophorion and before the throne of their Serbian enlightener, Saint Sava.
And finally, following the victory in the Great War, after the liberation and creation of the State of Southern Slavs, on September 12, 1920 in Sremski Karlovci, in the presence of the Regent Aleksandar Karadjordjevic and state officials, the Assembly of Bishops which was convened, after one hundred and fifty-four years, with liturgical unity – which had never been violated – reestablishing canonical and administrative unity and renewing the Patriarchate of Pec, that is, solemnly proclaiming the Serbian Orthodox Church, in the regions of its historical and canonical jurisdiction. Thus, the aspirations of many generations of our ancestors were finally fulfilled.
Today, it is our sacred duty to mention with prayerful trepidation all the hierarchs who were the direct laborers in the establishment and proclamation of the unity of the Serbian Orthodox Church. In the first place, it is the Archbishop of Belgrade and Metropolitan of Serbia, Dimitrije (Pavlovic), the then first Patriarch of the renewed and unified Serbian Church; Metropolitan Mitrofan (Ban) of Montenegro, who chaired and led the sessions; Metropolitan Petar (Zimonjic) of Dabro-Bosna, later commemorated as the Hieromartyr Petar of Sarajevo; Metropolitan of Evgenije (Letica) of Sarajevo, Metropolitan Vasilije (Popovic) of Banja Luka and Bihac, Bishop Miron (Nikolic) of Pakrac, Bishop Georgije (Letic) of Timisoara, Bishop Ilarion (Zeremski) of Gornji Karlovac, Bishop Dimitrije of Zadar, Bishop Irinej (Ciric) of Backa, Bishop Kirilo (Mitrovic) of Ras and Zahumlje, Bishop of Georgije (Zubkovic) of Budim, Bishop Ilarion (Radonic) of Zvornik and Tuzla and Bishop Gavrilo (Zmejanovic) of Vrsac.
Directing our prayers of thanksgiving to our Lord for these, our fathers, and beseeching them that before the Heavenly Throne they remember our generation, which today proudly inscribes in our national memory that date of September 12, 1920, when in Sremski Karlovci, in the presence of thousands of the faithful, gathered from all liberated and united Serbian lands, with the sound of bells from all the churches of Karlovci and cannon salvos of the victorious Serbian army, promulgated a decree on the renewal of the Patriarchate of Pec and the conciliar unity of the Serbian Church regions: the Archbishopric of Belgrade and the Metropolitanate of Serbia; the Archbishopric of Karlovci and the Serbian Metropolitanate, with the dioceses of Dalmatia-Istra and Boka Kotor; Archbishopric of Cetinje and the Metropolitanate of Montenegro, the Mountains and Littoral; then the Metropolitanate of Skopje, Ras-Prizren, Veles-Debar, Pelagonija, Prespa-Ohrid and Strumica, one part of the Metropolitanate of Voden, the Episcopate of Poljane; Metropolitanates of Bosna and Herzegovina: Dabro-Bosna, Herzegovina, Zvornik-Tuzla and Banja Luka and Bihac, unified in one autocephalous United Serbian Orthodox Church.
Soon after, the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, on September 28, 1920, elected the most eminent hierarch of that time, Metropolitan Dimitrije of Belgrade, as the first patriarch of the renewed Patriarchate, which was confirmed by the Electoral Council on November 20th of that year. Shortly afterwards, on February 19, 1922, the Patriarchate of Constantinople, by an appropriate ecclesiastical act, confirmed the universally accepted Tomos of the unification of the historic Serbian ecclesiastical areas as “canonical and justified”, and the Serbian Orthodox Church was recognized “permanently and forever” as a Sister Church of all autocephalous Orthodox Churches.
This great feast is a feast of unity and harmony, a day when everyone confirmed the general, ever awareness of the unity and continuity of our holy Orthodox Church in history, especially since the great event of acquiring autocephaly, more than eight centuries ago, from Zica, Pec and Karlovci to Belgrade. Today, after one hundred years, we joyfully announce and celebrate this historic event, whether we live in the homeland, or in one of the Serbian or surrounding countries, or in the diaspora, scattered by the storm of historical winds across the six continents.
In all times of trouble, misfortune and suffering, the Serbian Orthodox Church has shared the joys and sorrows of the entire Serbian people, and the Serbian Patriarchate was and remains a symbol of national unity even when the state system and unity were broken asunder.
Due to all this, during these days, as we remember the feat, the effort, of our ancestors who longed for, fought and achieved unity of the Church, illuminated by the light of the Resurrection of Christ, we send our archpastoral blessing to the fullness of our Serbian Orthodox Church, the historical Patriarchate of Pec and Belgrade-Karlovci , and we call on our faithful people in the country and in the diaspora that, in spite of all temptations, they remain and persevere in fellowship beneath the wing of their Mother Church.
Given at the Serbian Patriarchate
in Sremski Karlovci
The 15th day of May of the Year of the Lord 2022
Your intercessors before the Risen Christ:
Archbishop of Pec,
Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci and
Serbian Patriarch PORFIRIJE
Metropolitan of Dabro-Bosna CHRYSOSTOM
Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral JOANIKIJE
Bishop of Srem VASILIJE
Bishop of Banja Luka JEFREM
Bishop of Budim LUKIJAN
Bishop of Banat NIKANOR
Bishop of New Gracanica-Midwestern America LONGIN
Bishop of Canada MITROPHAN
Bishop of Backa IRINEJ
Bishop of Great Britain and Scandinavia DOSITEJ
Bishop of Zica JUSTIN
Bishop of Vranje PAHOMIJE
Bishop of Sumadija JOVAN
Bishop of Branicevo IGNATIJE
Bishop of Zvornik-Tuzla FOTIJE
Bishop of Mileseva ATANASIJE
Bishop of Dusseldorf and Germany GRIGORIJE
Bishop of Ras and Prizren TEODOSIJE
Bishop of Western America MAXIM
Bishop of Gornji Karlovac GERASIM
Bishop of Eastern America IRINEJ
Bishop of Krusevac DAVID
Bishop of Slavonia JOVAN
Bishop of Austria and Switzerland ANDREJ
Bishop of Bihac-Petrovac SERGIJE
Bishop of Timok ILARION
Bishop of Nis ARSENIJE
Bishop of Buenos Aires and South Central America KIRILO
Bishop of Australia and New Zealand Metropolitanate SILUAN
Bishop of Dalmatia NIKODIM
Bishop of Osek-Polje and Baranja HERUVIM
Bishop of Valjevo ISIHIJE
Bishop of Budim and Niksic METODIJE
Bishop of Zahumlje and Hercegovina DIMITRIJE
Vicar Bishop of Moravica ANTONIJE
Vicar Bishop of Remesiana STEFAN
Vicar Bishop of Toplica JEROTEJ
Vicar Bishop of Hvosno JUSTIN
Vicar Bishop of Mohac DAMASKIN
Vicar Bishop of Marca SAVA
Vicar Bishop of Hum JOVAN
THE ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE OF OCHRID:
Archbishop of Ohrid and Metropolitan of Skopje JOVAN
Bishop of Polog and Kumanovo JOAKIM
Bishop of Bregalnica MARKO
Vicar Bishop of Stobi DAVID