His Beatitude, Metropolitan THEODOSIUS, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, joined ranks with dozens of other religious leaders throughout the world in calling upon US President Bill Clinton to bring an “immediate cessation” of the bombing campaign being conducted by NATO in the Republic of Yugoslavia.
“The tragic course of developments in Yugoslavia and in particular Kosovo is a stark reminder for us Christians of the continuing reign of sin and death in the world,” Metropolitan THEODOSIUS told Mr. Clinton in a letter dated March 31, 1999. “I am certain that you agree that now more than ever it is imperative for all persons of good will to offer prayers for peace and tolerance.”
Many of the worlds Orthodox Christian leaders, including His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW I, have called for an end to the bombing campaign, as have numerous other religious and humanitarian leaders and organizations. The Clinton administration has been severely criticized for not seeking a cease fire during the Paschal season, especially since had been widely reported that the timing of the recent bombing of Iraq had taken into account the Muslim observance of the holy month of Ramadan.
“Thus, we add our voice to the religious leaders throughout the world who have called for an immediate cessation of the bombing campaign in Yugoslavia by NATO, especially during this holy season for Christians, Muslims and Jews,” Metropolitan THEODOSIUS continued. “As you are aware, next week Orthodox Christians throughout the world, including those in the United States and Serbia, will begin their most sacred week of the year, in preparation for the feast of Pascha [Easter], which is celebrated on April 11, 1999.”
Metropolitan THEODOSIUS letter to Mr. Clinton followed two earlier statements on the Kosovo crisis, the first of which had been issued by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America on March 17, one week before the bombing began. Upon learning of the beginning of the NATO campaign, Metropolitan THEODOSIUS issued a lengthier statement calling for “a swift and peaceful end to the present conflict” and the initiation of “a lasting accord… based on mutual respect, restraint and tolerance among the peoples of the region.”
With headquarters in Syosset, New York, the Orthodox Church in America numbers over 600 parishes, missions, monasteries, seminaries and institutions throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico.