Battle between Serbian Patriarchate and ROCOR-PSCA over Church in Australia

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November 1, 2008
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Battle between Serbian Patriarchate and ROCOR-PSCA over Church in Australia

This article shows openly how much argument is involved in the escape from “official” Orthodoxy– do any of our readers think there would even be a fight here if there was no property involved (property which wasn’t originally owned by the Patriarchate anyway)? What is amazing is always, from the beginning of the Old Calendarist movement to now, how enthusiastic the interlopers are to interrupt a liturgy. NFTU

(theage.com.au) A Serbian Orthodox priest is taking Supreme Court action to stop his congregation from sacking him and evicting his family from the parish residence.

In a letter to Father Nedeljko Milanovic in June, the executive board of the Saint King Stefan Decanski Church told him his presence was “no longer acceptable” and he had three months to vacate his church, school and residence.

In an affidavit filed with the court, Father Milanovic said he was a casualty of the board’s decision to secede from the church hierarchy in Serbia and its nominated bishop in Australia, Irinej Dobrijevic.

Father Milanovic, a supporter of the Serbian-appointed bishop, was “respectfully reminded” to leave, in a letter from the board’s solicitors on eviction day, September 30.

When he refused to do so, saying his dismissal had not been sanctioned by the bishop, electricity to the parish residence was cut off. The church had already been locked three weeks earlier, leaving parishioners to gather around the gate to pray on Sundays. On October 12, the stand-off turned ugly. The board had appointed a new parish priest, John Smelic, who was due to celebrate his first liturgy. Mr [Fr. –ed.] Smelic said in an affidavit that after preparing for the service, he was praying when a man came in and yelled: “What are you doing?” and tried to remove him from the altar.

His assistant, Toma Banjanin, 81, said a group of men in the church told him and Father John to leave, shouting: “Out, out, you are defrocked, we want our priest Milanovic.”

“I told them to leave Father John alone, that they are committing sacrilege by disrupting the service, and I have come in peace to Sunday prayer,” Mr Banjanin said. “One answered: ‘I don’t know you, I never saw you in my life you old monkey.’ “

Church board secretary Milos Vujatov said about 12 police arrived, some with riot gear, to break up an angry mob of about 50 “strangers to the parish” in the church grounds.

Mr Vujatov said a former parishioner threatened to kill him, and about a week later he found a wooden cross bearing his name in the church grounds — “a well-known Serbian message that I will be murdered”.

In the Practice Court late last month, Justice David Byrne ordered the church to allow Father Milanovic to remain in the parish residence, and the priest not to enter any other church buildings, before a trial scheduled for next week.

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