By: Milica Radovanović, Sanja Sovrlić
For several days, high-intensity church bell sounds have been heard from the Serbian Church of St. Nicholas in Pristina in the name of “fighting the coronavirus”. Neighbours are upset and a security expert Agim Musliu explained that not only was it a “primitive Russian model” but also a “provocative trend” – this was reported today by the public broadcaster RTK and rereported by numerous Kosovo media, including news agency Kosovapress, portals Gazeta Express, Telegrafi, Bota Sot, Kosovarja…
“The sound of the church bells, after all, as well as a muezzin’s prayer from the minaret 5 times a day, has the primary purpose of encouraging prayer. We hereby demonstrate the solidarity our Church feels for all the citizens of Kosovo, regardless of religion or language, because we are all equally vulnerable to the pandemic. While the bells are ringing, we are praying for all the sick around the world, for those who take care of them in hospitals and we pray to God that the epidemic will stop and that life may return to normal,” the Raska-Prizren Diocese told CBS, denying allegations cited in this text.
The Kosovo media text also states that “earlier there had not been any reactions to the ritual manifestations that took place in this church, but that bells now ring so often that this is already a problem for residents of the neighbourhood Taslixhe, referring to an unnamed resident.
Agim Musliu, a “security expert,” said this was “not only a primitive Russian method, but also a provocative trend”.
“We are witnessing a deliberate spread of disinformation from Moscow regarding the humanitarian disaster caused by the virus. The Russians do not even spare their Orthodox believers while taking actions that suit them. On the other hand, it is clear that people from the Serbian secret service are circulating through all the churches, even through this one. Consequently, where the Serbian secret service is, there is also the Russian secret service. So, one can safely conclude that this is a consequence of the chaos from Moscow. It is known in the world that everywhere where there are Orthodox churches, there is one of their agents, too” he said.
The text also cites an unnamed source, who says that according to an explanation of the church clergy, “this is being done in the name of fighting the coronavirus.” It is also alleged that the church in Jagodina “applied this form of ‘curing’ the infection by ringing the bell at noon”.
“On the website of the Serbian Orthodox Church, no proof can be found that this is the official form of treatment for the coronavirus,” this text concludes.
The authors of this text did not, however, contact the Diocese of Raska-Prizren in order to obtain precise answers about the reasons and manner of ringing the church bells in Orthodox churches in Kosovo.
The Diocese of Raska-Prizren told CBS that they were “surprised and disappointed” by the text, emphasizing that it “goes far beyond the most decent boundaries of professional journalism and is an example of targeting the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo and Metohija.”
They recall that “the bells did not appear in Russia, but in Italy, in Campania, in the 5th century and have been used for centuries not only to announce regular services, but also in times of great distress, suffering, or other tragedy, in the Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant world.”
“The same practice was introduced in Western Christian, primarily Roman Catholic, communities around the world, from America, Canada, France, to Australia and the Philippines,” the Diocese explains.
As the Diocese explained for our portal, the ringing of bells, as well as the call to prayer from a minaret, is regulated by the legislation of Kosovo in decibels.
“Any well-meaning reader can conclude that Christian bells do not produce a sound effect larger than prayers from dozens of mosques in major cities. Bells are part of the civilization of the European continent we live in and it is very bad that a voice is being spread from Kosovo that they are disturbing someone,” it was added in the reply.
It was pointed out that Bishop Teodosije made the decision to stop with the more frequent bell ringing in the church of St. Nicholas in Pristina “although the parish priest of the old church in Pristina, Father Saša Mitrović, claims that none of the surrounding neighbours complained to him and that some even expressed support.”
The Diocese expressed their expectation that in times of a humanitarian catastrophe that hit the whole world, there would be no more articles like this, neither “comments from uninformed and ill-intentioned ‘experts ’, but that all this latest suffering would encourage us to stand in solidarity, mutual understanding and overcoming all political and cross-national differences, which are inappropriate at a time when there are so many sick people, especially the elderly.”
“We should always be together in times of distress and show, above all, a neighbourly spirit and tolerance because we live in an area where different religious traditions have existed for centuries,” said the Diocese of Raska-Prizren.
The Diocese stated that church bells are a reminder of prayer to the believers and that during the pandemic the bells will ring “in all parish and monastery temples from 8am to 8pm, in a time interval of 2 hours and 5 minutes, until the end of the epidemic.