No bishop for the butcher

pec001So, unless I have missed something somewhere, it does not appear that a bishop — or perhaps even a priest — showed up to help lead the memorial services for the butcher of Belgrade.

I do not think that Ramsey Clark counts. He is a priest in the wrong faith.

So is Reuters planning to print a correction? The wire service did, after all, print a story that bluntly said the Serbian Orthodox Church — as a sign of support for his legacy — would be holding a memorial service for former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Instead, the hard socialist left of the Serbian past staged what resembled large political rallies for its fallen leader.

Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Alissa J. Rubin reported that:

Neither Milosevic’s widow, Mirjana Markovic, nor his children, Marko and Marija, attended the funeral, which was televised on a single Serbian network. Markovic and her son live in exile in Moscow, and she faces corruption charges in Serbia.

Despite expectations that a Serbian Orthodox bishop would preside, the former leader was buried after dark without a religious service under a linden tree in the garden of the house he owned here. After letters from his widow and son were read, leaders of the Socialist Party kissed the simple wooden grave marker, followed by two boys and a girl dressed in camouflage uniforms.

So what is going on here? As I said the other day, it is true that, in Serbia, themes of national pride and centuries of suffering are woven into political life and some of that is connected with Orthodoxy. I would be stunned if there were no religious images linked to as powerful a figure as Milosevic. After all, he was a master at manipulating the emotions of many, many Serbians.

Yet Patriarch Pavle and other key Orthodox leaders were vocal in their support of movements in opposition to Milosevic and his Communist thugs.

So who showed up to mourn his death? You can check off the names and groups for yourself. Daniel Williams, in the Washington Post, reports the following:

On Saturday, political associates fashioned a legend of Milosevic as a steadfast champion of Serbia and victim of the West. “We are bidding farewell to the best one among us,” said Milorad Vucelic, a Socialist Party official.

The leader of the Serbian Radical Party, Vojislav Sesel, who is on trial at The Hague for war crimes, also sent a message: “Our Serbia will rise like a phoenix from the ashes.” Another war crimes suspect, Dragoljub Ojdanic, chief of staff during the Kosovo war who is out of Hague custody on bail until his trial begins, attended the funeral wearing his general’s uniform.

Ramsey Clark, a former U.S. attorney general fresh from participating in Saddam Hussein’s defense in Baghdad, praised Milosevic, saying “He was a man for the ages.”

And all of the GetReligion readers on the political left said: “Ouch?”

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Jeff Sharlet

    Not this lefty Get Religion reader. Suggesting that the Serbian fascists who rally under the banner of “socialism” bear any relationship to actual leftist ideas makes as much sense as proposing that the National Socialists of Germany were Wobblies on the Rhine. As for Ramsey Clark, that addled old loon, he retains no standing. His former government standing continues to fool 18-year-olds and folks without time to read, but he’s otherwise thoroughly repudiated on the left. Unlike, say, Jesse Helms on the right.

  • Maureen

    So he was buried in unconsecrated ground, without a priest.

    This means the next thing to worry about is whether he’s going to become a vampire…. :)

  • Don

    Well,it does not really matter if the serbian orthodox church priests showed up for funeral or not but they sure did support him on killing all those people he did.This is how serbs obviously let their own man down,first they supported him on all the wars he led and then not even come for his funeral service,what a shame.Milosevic was not the only one behind the wars,serbian orthodox church played a very bad role and supported him all the way.If you read the statements the serbian church gives now regarding the kosovo status,comparing to them,everybody is terrorist,including the united states,UK and all the western countries,as a born roman catholic,i dont think it is the churchs job to engage in politics in any way at all,it is a shame to do so.Serbs and their orthodox church have proved themselves and i guess the west is tired of their propaganda and that is why serbia is treated this way today.

  • Don

    I was going through some situation reports retreived from some serbian journalists about the minorities in todays so called democratic serbia,if that is real,then situation is really alarming,serbian police shows the most inhuman brutality for the minorities,it really works for the serbs because they have no connection to the outside worls beside their mother russia,so no one will now anything.Another issue,the inernational crisis group in europe had issued a report regarding serbia buying weapons from Iraq in Saddam Era,this thing is really scary and is really to believe because you can see the game now russia is playing with iran about weapons of mass destruction.So,i would not be suprised if serbia has nuclear weapons and that is a danger to the todays democratic world

  • Michael

    Unlike, say, Jesse Helms on the right.

    Or Pat Roberston or Jerry Falwell

  • tmatt

    So, does anyone think that Reuters needs a retraction?

    At the very least, shouldn’t the role of the bishops in opposing the butcher — the bishop of Kosovo was almost killed by Serbian thugs — be mentioned? I understand that the church has, to one degree or another, supported national identity and even nationalism. But does that automatically equal backing Milosevic?

  • DK

    Interesting how Sharlett’s ability the denounce Milosevic and Clark hinges on defining them as non-Leftists. Jesse Helms of course is deeply and essentially associated with every Republican. Straight from the mouth of “poly-partisan” journalism.

  • Makena White

    People’s ignorance regarding Serbs, Serbia and the Orthodox church is simultaneously saddening and revolting.

    First, for the Serbs themselves, let me remind you that there is not now, nor ever has been, a monolithic public opinion. Many Serbs in Serbia and Bosnia opposed the nationalists, both politically and militarily. Many of the greatest Federation generals were Bosnian Serbs. It has never been the case that all Serbs are violent nationalists.

    Second, Serbia is a country trying to move foreward under the most difficult circumstances. Who in the United States would want to cede the south to Mexico? And yet we ask Serbs to bid farewell to Kosovo, abandoning their people, history and achievements to largely Islamic Albanian radicals who have no respect for Serbian culture, religion or people.

    Third, Archbishop Pavle is the leader of the Serbian Orthodox Church. His absence from Milosevic’s funeral loudly declares that the SOC does not support his legacy in any way.

    It is time for people to learn about the history of Serbia and the challenges Serbs face. Many of the finest, most gentle, intelligent and civilized people I have ever met are Serbs and Bosnian Serbs. If you consider yourself educated, then you cannot approach such a complex situation with simplistic “they are the bad guys” approach concocted by the media.

  • Tom R

    “Milosevic Buried After Emotional Farewell”, by Dusan Stojanovic (Associated Press) (Sat Mar 18, 2006),

    … A letter from the [dictator's] son, Marko Milosevic, expressed hope that the late president’s death would “sober up the humiliated Serb people.”

    “To die for one’s country means to live forever,” his letter said.

    No priest officiated at the interment because Milosevic was an avowed atheist. [...]

  • http://? George

    Thanks for the generalisations, Don.

  • Stephen A.

    Maybe it was trouble posting, maybe my first attempt to post on this was too long, or too political and didn’t pass posting moderation, but I’ll try again.

    I’d like to see the media do a better job covering the religious cleansing of Kosovo of Serb Orthodox Christians by the KLA, which (I will state again, at risk of it not appearing here) were and are Muslim thugs bent on building a Greater Albania.

    I’d like to see solid numbers on how many Serbs were forced to flee from Kosovo under NATOs watch – and by saying this, I’m not at all excusing Slobodan’s vicious campaign of expansion in the 1990s, which included the same tactics.

  • Nikolia

    Mr. Don,
    I thank you for taking the time to write and publish your moronic opinions.
    You claim that “it does not really matter if the serbian church priests showed up for the funeral or not but they sure did support him on killing all those people he did….” Donald can you please substantiate your claims…. I understand that you are a cognitively challenged American so i will express this in terms that you can understand. Please find some documentation that proves that Milosevich number 1. was in command of serbian forces in Bosnia and crotia. Number 2, i request documentation that proves the Serbian Orthodox church supported alleged attrocities in the Serbian parts of crotia and Bosnia. And finally, i would like you to produce substantiated evidence such as statements from the Serbian Orthodox church that they support Milosevic…
    You then go to make another moronic claim that the serbian orthodox church supports / Supported Milosevich because they oppose Kosovo’s independence… Yes it is true that the orthodox church opposes independence for kosovo… The church’s stance against independence is not based on its alledged backing for slobo.. This stance is primarily rooted in the fact that the serbs consider Kosovo to be the craddle of there great serbian state and orthodox religion…. Further, Kosovo is reffered to by almost all serbs as “old Serbia.”
    The Church does frequently denounce NATO’s occupation of the Serbian province…. This is very true… Indeed, this denounciation does have a sound basis… Over the past six years over 250,000 thousand serbs have been forced to flee there homeland because of Albanian terror.. Morevoer, over 150 serbian churches and monasteries have been destroyed by Albanian terrorists in the past six years during the nato occupation.. It must also noted that most of these churches dated back to the 14th and 15th centuries..
    I have not read many items from the Serbian orthodox church denouncing the 1999 war… The 1999 war violated numerous international laws.. .. Serbia didn’t attack nato or any of its allies.. Therefore, under international law the 1999 campaign was illegal and an act of aggression against a sovereign nation..
    The attack was also conducted without justification… There was (is) no evidence that genocide occured in Kosovo… And further the claim that serbian forces conducted ethnic cleansing in kosovo is also ridiculous… Lets no forget that the major refugee crisis that was declared as indesputable evidence of “Serbian ethnic cleansing” only emerged 6 weeks into Nato’s aggressive war against serbia…
    Lastly, it must be noted that it is ironic that you associated your catholic birth with the belief that a church should not be involved in politics… After all the catholic
    church is perphaps one of the most politically active institutions in the world. In regards to Yugoslavia (I understand your an ignoramus and thus your understanding of history is very limited), cardinal stepinic played an active role in the fascist state of crotia during WWII. During this period Stepinic also advocated the crotian utashe policy to kill one third of the serbs, deport one third, and forcefully convert the rest to Catholicism.. Over 750,000 serbs were murdered by the fascist states with the assistance of the catholic church..
    In recent times (pre – 1991) the vatican advocated for the independence of crotia… The subsequent recognition of crotian independence by the vatican, the US, France, and Germany plunged Yugoslavia into a bloody civil war..
    I should also note that NATO did not exactly win the 1999 war since every aspect that Serbia rejected to in the 1999 Roumbillant accords was not included in the deal that ended the 78 day air war… And by the way Serbia is treated the way it is because they refuse to “kiss western ass.”

  • tmatt

    Stephen A:

    I remember approving a post for the blog that you wrote (some posts have trigger words or something else in the coding that cause them to come to us first, most do not) but then it never showed up on the blog. Sorry!

  • Stephen A.

    It’s amazing that Nikolia’s made it through, and mine didn’t! I only used the word mad/man – once!

    I still wonder why there’s been a media blackout of this issue of post-war Kosovo. It’s complex, and I suppose that’s the reason reporters (some of whom must dash off the facts quickly to meet deadlines) don’t have the time to think the issues through.

    Black hat/white hat reporting is the result, when in fact, either the hats are both black or, at best, both gray.