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Петиция в защиту свободы академической мысли

Dear Colleagues,

We invite you to support the International academic theologians’ appeal to His Holiness Irinej, Patriarch of Serbian Orthodox Church, to affirm the freedom of academic thought. His Holiness has regretfully recently sentenced Fr. Vukašin Milićević, assistant professor of systematic theology at the Faculty of Orthodox Theology, University of Belgrade, after his several public appearances in which he challenged some of the measures that the Serbian Church has taken in fighting pandemic of COVID-19.

Responding to the latest crisis, caused by the pandemic of COVID-19, Fr. Vukašin questioned the statement of the Holy Standing Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church proclaiming the continuation with the traditional way of delivering holy communion to the faithful – from a shared spoon. Referring to the decisions made by other Orthodox Churches, such as Romanian and Russian, he proposed that, in response to the pandemic, Serbian Church should also alter the usual way of delivering communion and resort either to other traditional practices (such as faithful receiving it in the hand) or to using single-use spoons.

After his appearance in the popular TV talk-show Utisak nedelje (Impression of the Week) Fr. Vukašin was sentenced by His Holiness Patriarch Irinej. Without previous hearing, he was banned from service for an indefinite period, although according to the Constitution of the Serbian Orthodox Church both punishment without hearing and one exceeding the time limit of 30 days cannot be issued by a bishop alone. He is charged with several charges such as: speaking publicly without the approval of the Church authorities, putting his own opinion above the mind of the Church, disregarding the authority of the Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition etc. According to the same document, Fr. Vukašin is facing trial at the Ecclesiastical Court of the Belgrade-Karlovci Archdiocese, facing possibly even greater consequences, not excluding defrocking.

Moreover, there are strong indications that, as a further consequence, after tenured professor Bishop Maxim Vasiljević and assistant professor Marko Vilotić, Fr. Vukašin might be the next one to whom a synodal blessing to teach at the Faculty of Orthodox Theology, University of Belgrade, will be denied.

If you wish to sign this petition please fill out the form on this link. Please refer to the attached document for more details on Fr. Vukašin and the background to this case.