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Is there conflict within SOC when it comes to “Kosovo knot”? (N1)

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Reactions on the statement of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) Metropolitan Amfilohije who earlier expressed concern over the way the Serbian Government is trying to untie “the Kosovo knot” do not go silent for a third day in a row, TV N1 reports today.

Later statement of the Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Irinej that Vucic is fighting for the Serb people and Kosovo, part of the public sees as an attempt to calm down the situation. It is yet unclear what these statements really mean and if a conflict within the top of the SOC is about to surface, TV N1 further reports.

Are there serious disagreements toward the state policy on Kosovo within the Serbian Orthodox Church? Following the Metropolitan Amfilohije’s sharp statements on Vucic’s policy on Kosovo and the later reaction of the SOC Patriarch Irinej who spoke about Vucic’s struggle for Kosovo, it still remains unclear whether it is about different opinion, misunderstandings or something more serious.

For those familiar with church situation, there is no dilemma on how the Serbian Orthodox Church perceives Kosovo.

“More or less they all think the same, all have the same stance, only styles differ,” SOC deacon Nenad Ilic told N1.

Ilic claims that statements of the Patriarch Irinej and Metropolitan Amfilohije in fact complement each other.

“On one side there is expressed concerns things are not going in a good direction based on different indicators, and on the other there is expressed wish that the one who is in power does his utmost to prevent something that would be bad from happening. Words that he fought like a lion, these are diplomatic words and Patriarch in such place has to say so,” Ilic explains.

However, the government does not have such a delicate hearing and a feeling for nuances. Signals indicate words of the Metropolitan Amfilohije are not perceived as a mere concern.

“It is sufficient what Patriarch Irinej said yesterday on the role of the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in the struggle for our national interests. If there are sanctions within the Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church, I think it is high time to sanction Amfilohije,” Minister of the Local Self-Governance, Branko Ruzic said.

On the other side, Patriarch’s intervention is seen among some observers that he finds support from the government important, due to different reasons.

“Amfilohije Radovic said some bad words on the account of Vucic and I think that Patriarch Irinej is now extinguishing the fire and expressing love in order to get access to some parts, where the Church would have to be asked on some political issues,” weekly Vreme journalist Jovana Gligorijevic told N1.

However, those familiar with church situation, said that the church only shifted, the Metropolitan Amfilohije took the side of a hard-line right wing in opposition, and Patriarch the one of the government.

“The Patriarch supported the government, the government supports reconstruction of the Saint Sava Temple (in Belgrade), they are in good relations, and they have some sort of balance. In any case, there is Amfilohije who can always spark and remind that the Church can turn its back, and I am not sure there are divided stances in the sense of a rift, within the SOC,” religious expert Miroslav Kevezdi told N1.

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