Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Irinej led a prayer for martyrs at the Holy Trinity Church in Pakrac on Tuesday during which the earthly remains of four local bishops were returned to the church crypts.
Croatian Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegovic attended the memorial service on behalf of President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic. He toured the baroque buildings by the church, including the bishop's palace, saying they represented an important piece of sacral heritage whose reconstruction Croatia would continue to finance.
The remains of bishops Emilijan, Kiril, Nikifor and Sofronije were removed from their graves several years ago because the church was damaged in the 1991-95 war.
Patriarch Irinej said the prayer was for the hundreds of martyrs who were killed in this area only because they were Serb Orthodox believers. He called on all people, notably Christians, never to raise hands on one another.
The patriarch said he had heard of a return of elements of "some confusing times" which he had thought had passed forever, calling for love among people and nations.
Many political representatives of Croatia and Serbia attended the service.
The Holy Trinity Church in Pakrac was built in 1768, while the bishop's palace dates back to 1732. The Croatian Culture Ministry has been renovating the church since 2001, investing HRK 4.45 million to date, and the bishop's palace since 2002, investing HRK 4.8 million to date.
(EUR 1 = HRK 7.6)