It’s making big headlines today that Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Çeku’s request to attend Easter services at the Orthodox church in Graçanica has been denied by Bishop Artemije. Now, I know this looks like a big stinky, intolerant thing in the West. Everyone ought to be able to go to everyone else’s worship services, right? That, we say, is the tolerant thing to do.
The thing is, I’m not sure it’s a fundamental human right to attend someone else’s worship service. Sure, if you’re invited that’s great. But on the other hand, I think a group of worshippers has the right to worship without including people from another belief. Some acts of worship are private.
That said, the Bishop didn’t offer that as a rationale for refusing Çeku’s request. The Bishop’s answer:
"We told him that, considering that we have been living with the status of refugees for nearly seven years, outside our residence in Prizren, which was burned during the riots on 17 March 2004, along with our cathedral and many other holy places, we are not able to welcome Mr Ceku before we have returned to our restored residence, and our people have returned to their homes," Bishop Artemije said. Read the article here
Forgiveness is pretty difficult when the history is long and politics are entrenched.