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1999 NCC News Archives

NCC Hails Courage of Pavle's July 4 Call for Repentance

July 2, 1999, NEW YORK  – National Council of Churches General Secretary Joan Brown Campbell today hailed Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle’s announced intention to call on his nation to confess its wrong as a necessary precursor for reconciliation.

"His courage to say this in Belgrade has the potential of creating an atmosphere where peace might happen," said the Rev. Dr. Campbell, who was co-leader with Jesse Jackson of the interfaith mission to Belgrade in late April-early May that secured the release of the three captured U.S. soldiers. "It’s a bold move."

The London Guardian (June 25, 1999) reported that "Serbia’s wall of denial surrounding war crimes in Kosovo is about to be smashed by the Serbian Orthodox Church, which plans to tell its flock that the nation’s soul is stained with the blood of ethnic Albanians. Church leaders will return from the province to Belgrade and defy the Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic, by publicly admitting that Serb forces committed widespread atrocities …

"Since arriving in Kosovo last week, the head of the church, Patriarch Pavle, has been shocked by evidence of murders, tortures and expulsions. He and his bishops have decided to break the silence by declaring some of their countrymen guilty of horrific crimes. Luka Novakovic, dean at the church’s library in Belgrade, said the church hierarchy would make an announcement at a press conference in the Yugoslav capital next week, regardless of government threats.

"’At our services on Sunday (July 4) our priests will be able to tell the people about what happened in Kosovo,’ the deacon said. ‘We have learned that some Serbs did terrible things in Kosovo, and admitting that is the first step in changing things for the better. It will not be possible to keep it a secret, not any more. Society will know about it….It is our duty. It is important for a country to know the truth. It has to know, otherwise it will just continue on without confessing. Denying it is not going to save souls."

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