The head of the Serb Orthodox Church in Croatia and Slovenia, Metropolitan Porfirije Peric, has condemned and described as an attack on the Serb Orthodox Church and the Serb people in Croatia accusations that followed the broadcasting of footage showing him singing a song glorifying World War II Chetnik commander Momcilo Djujic, and he has noted that tendentious interpretations of the footage do not reflect his views and values.
In a statement issued on Friday, the Serb Orthodox dignitary says that tendentious interpretations of the footage, made several years ago during his visit to Chicago, do not reflect his views and the values he advocates, which, he says, is clear to everyone who follows his work.
He describes media reports on the footage as an unprecedented attack on the Serb Orthodox Church and the Serb people in Croatia, expressing regret to all who have felt affected by it. Porfirije claims that in the case in question, during his visit to Chicago, he was not in a position to control all the circumstances.
The said footage was just the trigger and not the motive for, or the cause of the brutal, unprecedented attacks against and calls for lynching the Serb Orthodox Church and the Serb people in Croatia, says the religious dignitary.
He notes that the attacks did not surprise him because in his first public address upon taking up office in Zagreb, he had said that "there are, on both sides, such people that will throw stones at those who build bridges between people and between nations."
He stresses that he will not be discouraged by protagonists of hate and intolerance and that he is bound by the determination of many individuals and associations to publicly and privately express solidarity with, encourage and support the Serb Orthodox Church, Serb Orthodox believers and him.
They give me optimism to continue, with even more strength, to build bridges of peace, cooperation, mutual respect and love between the Croat and Serb peoples, as well as between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, said Porfirije Peric.
In the statement he also expresses confidence that those who have sent him messages of encouragement represent the Croatian majority, who follow Christ's teachings and ethic, and expresses his deepest gratitude to them.
The Croatian media have in the recent days broadcast footage of the Serb Orthodox dignitary singing a song glorifying WWII Chetnik commander Momcilo Djujic in the company of several Serb Orthodox dignitaries.
Reporter Marko Juric, who hosts a programme on Zagreb's Z1 TV channel, was reported for hate speech last week and Z1's broadcasting licence was revoked for three days after Juric, ending his programme "Markov trg", warned residents of Zagreb, notably mothers with children, to watch out when passing by the Serb Orthodox Church in Cvjetni Trg square because "there is a danger that a Chetnik vicar might run out of the church and commit a bloodbath in their usual manner."
Prior to Juric's closing remark, the controversial footage was shown in the programme.