GOARCH - March 29, 1999

Archbishop Spyridon Writes to President Clinton
and President Milosevic on Kosovo

New York, NY - His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America has written a private letter to President Clinton, asking the President to halt the bombing of Yugoslavia. In a letter dated March 26, 1999, and hand delivered to the President on Sunday March 28th by Archdiocesan Council President John Catsimatidis, the Archbishop appealed for a cessation of hostilities during the Holy Weeks of both Eastern and Western Christians, which also coincides with Passover observances as well as Muslim religious observances.

In a separate letter today to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, delivered to the Yugoslav Mission to the United Nations, the Archbishop urged him to use all of his powers to seek peace in the region.

In his letter to President Clinton, Archbishop Spyridon recalled that when "... the United States and the United Kingdom conducted similar air strikes against Iraq .... the initiation of that action was planned so as not to begin after the commencement of Ramadan, which is regarded as a holy month by persons of the Islamic faith."

The Archbishop further suggested that "... the same consideration for the Christian people living in the territory now subject to air attacks by NATO forces may provide an opportunity to re-initiate the negotiation process without loss of life. As you know, we are approaching the most holy season of the Christian year: that of the death and burial of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Glorious Resurrection. The Serbian people, with hundreds of millions of other Orthodox Christians, this year celebrate the Resurrection on April 11. For the Roman Catholic minority among the Kosovo Albanians, Easter is celebrated the week before, on April 4, in common with other Western Christians. Accordingly, I implore you to suspend the current bombing campaign beginning on Thursday, April 1, at least until after Monday, April 12. This will allow for a respite of hostilities and an opening for peace."

In his letter to President Milosevic, the Archbishop wrote "I have written to the President of the United States, suggesting that the coming holy days commemorating the Crucifixion and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ are an auspicious time for a cessation of all hostilities, but it requires that both sides in the conflict take action to allow for a return to the process of negotiation."

The Archbishop further stated to President Milosevic: "Let your counterparts know of your willingness to allow the holy days of our blessed Orthodox Faith to be an opportunity for peace and cessation of violence on all sides. Together with all the Orthodox People of America, we are ready and willing to be of any and all assistance to bring peace and stability to your people."

In a another letter to his Beatitude Patriarch Pavle, Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade and Karlovac and Patriarch of Serbia, the Archbishop wrote of his efforts.

"With great sadness for the current turn of events and the suffering of your Christ-loving people, I express to Your Beatitude the support and the prayers of the Greek Orthodox People of America during this time of great trial and human suffering.

"We earnestly pray for peace and for a return to the process of negotiated settlement in place of the destruction caused by the weapons of war. I have written both to President Clinton and President Milosevic, urging them to consider the Holy Season of our Lord Jesus Christ's Passion, Burial and Resurrection as a sign from God to restrain all military violence and return to a political and diplomatic settlement. It is our most fervent prayer that the mercy and life that dawns from the All-Holy Tomb of our Risen Lord will enlighten all sides to seek peace and pursue with all diligence and sincerity. During this difficult hour, please be assured of our unceasing supplications on your behalf and for our constructive efforts in helping to put an end to the force of violence as a means to peace."

   March 29, 1999 ]