Serbia

Our correspondent reports, from Serbia:

On Wednesday afternoon, 10/23 January, three masked thugs assaulted Hieromonk Maxim of the Serbian True Orthodox Church at the parish of the Paraclete near Belgrade. They beat Fr. Maxim, inflicting various wounds and even breaking one of his legs. They then tried to firebomb the church building, throwing into it homemade petrol bombs. A fire began but miraculously went out of its own accord. This was amazing, as the building is made entirely of wood, and it should have gone up like a match.
Police have taken a report and have promised to investigate. The thugs stole nothing and had nothing to steal. The attack was solely motivated by the STOC’s presence near Belgrade, for which Fr. Maxim has been receiving threats for several months. Local authorities and police have warned the STOC that the local Serbian Patriarchate priest has ties to the drug mafia, and that he was therefore a dangerous man to “compete with.” More and more faithful of the Patriarchate have been coming to services at the Paraclete, and the STOC has been expecting for some time for there to be some kind of criminal retaliation, which now has occurred.

The prayers of all genuine Orthodox Christians are urgently requested for Fr. Maxim’s recovery, for the safety of the True Orthodox in Serbia, and specifically that this incident will raise awareness among the Patriarchate faithful, so that they will realize the true nature of their spiritual situation and come to True Orthodoxy. 
A history of the background of this persecution can be read at the Serbian True Orthodox blog at http://www.serbiantrueorthodox.org, in an English language post of 17 November 2012 and the Serbian original, posted on 30 October.

Here are photographs of Fr. Maxim in the hospital, and of his wounded back. You may notice the tattoo on his upper arm. In his younger days, Fr. Maxim was a “skinhead” thug who was rescued from jail by then-Fr. Akakije, now Bishop Akakije of the STOC. He was being held in connection with the firebombing of a police station! The court and police released him to Fr. Akakije, who vouched for his repentance and reformation. He became

a monk and a priest. Now, glory to God, he has become a confessor.

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