Conference European Churches Call for Release of Orthodox Archbishop

Appeal Made to the United Nations and the European Union

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“The detention of Archbishop Jovan by the authorities of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Fyrom) is linked to the fact that he has exercised his human right of religious freedom,” stated the Conference of European Churches (CEC), in a document published the day after its recent assembly (Budapest, July 3-8), and taken up by SIR agency.

The Orthodox Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid, Macedonia, has been detained in the Skopye prison since December 2011, without a trial or sentence. He is accused of having fueled inter-religious hatred. The Archbishop took back, under the authority of the Serbian Patriarchate, the Archdiocese of Ohrid, linked before to the Macedonia Orthodox Church, born in 1967 with a unilateral declaration of autocephaly, that is, with a schism from the Serbian Orthodox Church.

According to SIR, this is the Orthodox Bishop’s third arrest. So the CEC requested the competent authorities of the UN and the EU “to investigate this case carefully,” verifying first of all “if the conditions of detention are in conformity with the rules established by the Council of Europe.”

In addition, the CEC requested the government of Fyrom and its Prime Minister, Nikola Gruevski, “to guarantee a fair trial, releasing the Archbishop immediately” while awaiting the trial whose hearings, according to sources of the Serbian Orthodox Church, continue to be postponed. The European Churches are invited “to unit themselves in prayer and in solidarity” with the Archbishop and to “send letters of protest to the responsible authorities.”

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