The Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church began on May 14, 2023, with the Holy Hierarchical Liturgy, which was presided over by His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Porfirije, with the concelebration of all hierarchs.
At the conclusion of the Holy Hierarchical Liturgy, His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Porfirije said: - Brother hierarchs, brother priests, dear brothers and sisters, by God's providence and by the grace of the Holy Spirit, we, the hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church, have gathered in our capital to serve the Divine Liturgy here, in the memorial church of our people. We served the Divine Liturgy, as Bishop Ignjatije wonderfully said, to show that the Church is an assembly, a community. Every assembly gets its meaning and its fullness only through the assembly, which is the Divine Liturgy, where we are not only a gathering of people, but we are gathered in Christ and around Christ, together with all the saints.
It is the custom and tradition that the bishops of the Church of Christ gather to serve the Divine Liturgy, but at the same time to ponder on all the challenges facing the Church, as well as each individual wherever he is in his time and space. Today, we live in a time that is, as they say, a global village, which means that there is nothing that does not concern us and there is nothing that will happen anywhere which will not reach us. Even in the most distant place and the most far off point of the earth, everything that seems to be far away from us and does not concern us, reaches us. However, the global world has shown that we are outside, yet we know in essence that we are all interconnected, and that everything one does concerns the entire Church, but also concerns the entire human race. That is why the Assembly convenes. The hierarchs, glory be to God, came from all over the world, from all the regions where the Church appointed and blessed them to build up the Body of Christ. They came with their experience, with their insights, and we all gathered together to, through prayer and faith in Christ, try first to understand what is happening around us, but also in us, and then with faith and prayer we strive and we will try to give answers to the challenges and to all events, always having only one and only goal in the world, which is to bear witness to Christ crucified and resurrected and that our word will always be the word of Christ, the word of the Gospel, which will of course sound somewhere one way, somewhere else, someone will experience it in their own way, and yet someone else will experience it in a different way. However, there will always be one and unique word in the Assembly and in the assembly, and in the Divine Liturgy and through the Divine Liturgy, because it will be the word of Christ. That is why the Assembly gathers, not to conform the Church or to conform the Gospel of Christ to this world, but by holding to the Gospel and the words of Christ and the liturgical experience, it aims and prays to God to transform the world with that which is eternal and true. Sometimes the word of the Church will therefore be apparently strong and bitter, and sometimes mild. However, it will always be the word of Christ, which means it will always be sobering and healing.
May God grant that this Assembly of ours pass in peace, in mutual understanding, in love. May it take place in freedom, which means that it takes place in the opportunity for everyone to contribute by expressing their opinion, their experience and their attitude, so that when we discuss problems, every problem is seen from every possible angle, and when we talk about something that needs to be affirmed that in what we affirm, i.e. we witness the inclusion of everyone's contribution into one harmony, which is a symphony, but in one voice. We ask you, brothers, and you who have gathered here, the people of God, to pray for us bishops, because we are all the Church. And so I will just add that when someone recognizes the power of God in the Church, he recognizes it in all of us together. And again, when someone - and unfortunately we often have such challenges and temptations - twists the word of the Church, often slanders, often changes theses, often determines what the Church should do, he tells all of us. The Church is not only forty or fifty bishops, but the Church is the people of God, and the bishops are in place and in the image of Christ to offer the bloodless sacrifice on behalf of all and to offer the mystery of Christ.
May the Lord bless us all. Brother hierarchs, may God first of all give us humility, love, wisdom and feelings that in each of us there is a place for everyone, as well as responsibility for the work and word of the Church here and now, but also everywhere wherever God has placed us.
Christ is risen!