granted. In i9i9 the emergence ofthe unified Kingdom ofYugoslavia brought together within the borders of one state the different ecclesiastical jurisdictions governing Serbian Orthodox populations. Besides the Serbian church there were now the archbishoprics of Carlowitz, Dalmatia and Cattaro, and Montenegro. As part of the assertion of the new Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, the government ofthe kingdom wrote to Constantinople requesting the unification of all these different jurisdictions into one patriarchate of the Serbs. The agreement was reached on 18 March 1919, and on 12 September 1920, on the feast day of all Serbian Saints, the church of Serbia was proclaimed a patriarchate. Significantly, in an act symbolically reclaiming the entire Serbian ecclesiastical past, the new patriarch of the Serbs, Metropolitan Dimitrje of Belgrade, was enthroned at the old patriarchate of Pec on 28 August 1924.
This was a remarkable process, which combined respect for canonical formalities, thus guaranteeing ecclesiastical peace and at the same time achieving in the most effective way the national integration of the Serbian Church. The consistency with which the Serbian Church exemplified its respect for canonical order in the process of accession to autocephaly and patriarchal status stands in contrast to claims repeatedly advanced in Serbian nationalist historiography in the late nineteenth and throughout the twentieth century alleging ecclesiastical repression and attempts at 'hellenisation' by the ecumenical patriarchate at the expense of the Serbs. Obviously such claims were the product of retrospective reinterpretations of the historical record based mostly on distorted accounts by western observers who ignored or failed to understand the nature of Orthodox ecclesiastical politics in south-eastern Europe.13 Such misunderstandings and distortions nevertheless served the needs of nationalist psychology, which explains the prominence they have received in the mainstream of Serbian and Yugoslav historiography.14
In an age of nationalist assertion, when Balkan politics was building up its modern rather sombre and unflattering reputation, the Serbian model of ecclesiastical transition found no followers in the Orthodox world. In contrast the Greek model of unilateralism found ready imitators among the Romanians and the Bulgarians, leadingto serious conflicts and fractures in the body of Orthodoxy.
13 E.g. Jean Mousset, La Serbie et son eglise 1830-1904 (Paris: Droz, 1938), 40-53; Albert Mousset, Le royaume des Serbes, Croates et Slovènes (Paris: Editions Bossard, 1921), 89-101.
14 C. Jelavich, 'Some aspects ofSerbian religious development in the eighteenth century', Church History 23 (1954), 144-52.
Was this article helpful?