MEMBERS of the Free Serbian Orthodox Church Diocese have expressed “dismay and shock” at being locked out of their church in Hall by their bishop.
Sonya Neufeld; 30 December 2007 – 9:31AM; The Canberra Times
About 150 consultants of the diocese from Australia and New Zealand travelled from all capital cities around the country to attend an extended plenary meeting in Hall yesterday.
But despite being promised by the abbott of the monastery which houses the church that a liturgy before the meeting could be conducted, the members arrived at 8am yesterday to find the church locked.
Diocese chairman of directors Ratomir Nesic said although the meeting was still able to continue, he was “dismayed, shocked, hurt, disappointed and surprised” by the move to cancel the liturgy.
“I was with the abbott on Friday night and he assured me the church would be open and he would conduct the service at 8am the next morning, but when we arrived it was locked,” he said.
“A guard told us a priest had come in the morning, picked the abbott up and took him away. It was a disgraceful decision [by Bishop Irinej].”
Diocese spokesman John Banjanin said he believed the church had been deliberately closed to “preclude” people from attending yesterday’s planned service.
He believed that the bishop for the Serbian Orthodox Church in Australia and New Zealand, Bishop Irinej, ordered the church to be locked because he wanted the meeting to be held in Sydney, where he lives.
“Monasteries are never meant to be closed,” Mr Banjanin said. “If there is no abbott to serve, people are usually allowed to just walk into the monastery building, light a candle, say a small prayer and walk out.
“Today we have been precluded from being able to do that.
“The bishop obviously doesn’t want us to attend in Canberra and would like us to be in Sydney, where he resides, but the seat of the diocese is here in Canberra and it always has been since the land was bought in 1980.”
He said yesterday was the 15th regular church national assembly, the highest legislative national body for handing down decisions for the diocese.
It was the first time they had been locked out. Bishop Irinej could not be reached for comment.
izvor: The Canberra Times