A Twitter post by Viola von Cramon MEP following her meeting with Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) Bishop Grigorije drew heated reactions in Serbia as well as statement from the SPC itself.
The MEP met with Bishop Grigorije who heads the SPC Bishopric of Düsseldorf and all of Germany and posted a photo of herself and the Bishop with the caption: “Let’s use what unites us for the betterment of all”.
Von Cramon said in a Twitter post that she later deleted that “there is no “the Serbian Orthodox Church”, these are very autonomous dioceses, different to the Catholic Church. Speak to the Bishop and you will be surprised.” The tweet was posted in response to a Twitter user who accused the SPC of being pro-Russian.
Her tweet was interpreted as a denial of the existence of the SPC in Germany. The pro-regime media launched attacks on Von Cramon, demonizing her as anti-Serb and President Aleksandar Vucic accusing her of doing everything to destroy Serbia, including claims that it should be found guilty of genocide and answer for everything that happened in Kosovo whose independence she supports. “As for the conclusion that the SPC does not exist, just its bishoprics, you decide how she reached that conclusion. I don’t have to say anything more,” he said.
The SPC issued a statement saying that the Serbian Orthodox Church exists in Germany as part of an indivisible Serbian Patriarchy. It added that SPC rules are valid everywhere including Germany with all church bodies under obligation to follow tham and the top church body empowered to appoint and dismiss bishops.
Bishop Grigorije said in a separate statement he learned of the deleted tweet from the media. “Without entering into speculation about interpretations of her personal views and to prevent potential confusion in public, I want to say that we did not discuss that topic in our meeting and that I am fully in agreement with the SPC statement about the position of this bishopric within our church,” the bishop said in the statement issued late on Tuesday night.
Grigorije, who is known as an outspoken critic of problems in the church and Serbian society, took over as head of the SPC Bishopric in Germany in 2018. The SPC does not enjoy the status of a religious community in Germany and is registered as a civic organization. The Bishop and his associates are investing effort to be granted the status of a religious community. According to unofficial data, there are up to a million Serbs in Germany.