In the context of contemporary events, protests, and the revolt spreading throughout Serbia, the matter can also be seen from a theological point of view. It is hard to say how well the churchgoing people are managing in all this. On the public stage, there are but a handful of voices that are perceived as the voice of the Church. However, in the general confusion, it is not easy to discern the Christian position. Christians are usually thought of as being exclusively interested in the Kingdom of Heaven, which is basically true. Yet the path to Heaven leads through the world in which we live. Our testimony in the world is a ticket to the Kingdom of Heaven. It is often forgotten that one part of the prayer Our Father reads: “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” If there is no justice of God on earth, how will the Kingdom of Heaven descend on it?
This question concerns Christian action in the world. If Christians are silent or approving of injustice, are they on the path of the Kingdom of Heaven? If they rise up against injustice, then one might call that a rebellion, a rebellion against injustice. Only free people and those who strive for freedom are capable of rebellion. The obediently pious cannot rebel. In order to better understand things, we will look at and recall some things which are almost forgotten in the Church, and which are an essential part of its mission in the world. At the heart of this recollection is the idea of rebellion.
After a critical statement about the situation with the coronavirus, Vukašin Milićević, lecturer at the Theological Faculty in Belgrade, was banned from speaking publicly by the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church. In this interview, his colleague Rodoljub Kubat sheds light on the background and tensions around the Faculty.
1) The Serbian Holy Synod forbade the lecturer Vukašin Milićević to address the public. How has it come to that?
Let me remind you that the ban about addressing the public came from the Patriarch as the bishop in charge. The Patriarch is at the same time also the chair of the Synod. It is symptomatic that a public request for the Milićević ban came from the eparchy of Bachka, the bishop of which is also one of the members of the Synod. This is just one of the measures the ecclesial authorities have undertaken against the Orthodox Theological Faculty. Something like this could have been expected, however, for certain tensions have already existed between the Faculty and the part of the episcopate that forms the majority in the Synod. The reason for those tensions is the bishops’ discontent with the fact that free theological thought is arising at the Faculty. Of course, the free theological thought is nothing sensational. It is simply a more critical approach to theology, society, and Church life in general. But apparently even that is threatening. One gets the impression that the bishops would rather see the Faculty as a Higher Clerical School rather than a Department of Theology. Some of the teachers on the Faculty, of the bishops, and of the priests do not agree with that. Still, the former group has the majority within the Church institutions, and it uses that majority for imposing its regressive understanding of the point of academic training.