His All-Holiness Bartholomew
Archbishop of Constantinople
Nea Roma and Ecumenical Patriarch
kyr kyr Bartholomew

Protocol no. 19 from 12.01.2004

All-Holy Father and Prelate,

With honor, by this letter, we would like to inform Your All-Holiness about the harmful situation of the Procurator (Exarch) of Ohrid – under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Serbia – Metropolitan of Veles and Povardarje kyr John, as well as of his congregation and especially of his closest assistants.

Last Sunday, January 11, policemen broke into an apartment where the Divine Liturgy was celebrated. The policemen commanded us immediately to stop the Liturgy and to join them (Your All-Holiness may allow us to remark that Metropolitan John is forced to celebrate the Divine Liturgy in the room of a small apartment in the town of Bitola, because the schismatic, self-called "Macedonian" Church by violence has taken possession of all the Metropolitan's places of worship and until now has undertaken huge persecution against him and our Holy Archbishopric of Ohrid which was established by the grateful blessing of His Beatitude the Patriarch of Serbia Kyr Pavle, without however having yet assumed to appoint an Archbishop).

Metropolitan John answered to the policemen that they could remove him only as dead from his place before the end of the Divine Liturgy. So the policemen waited until the end of the Liturgy and then conducted all present bishops, priests, monastics and faithful to the town's police station, without informing us about the reason of the arrest. While the lay-people where released, the others were put into prison – again with no reason given – for 30 hours, while the law tells 24 hours.

We, the arrested, are namely 12 people: Metropolitan John, Bishop Mark, abbot Maksim with some of the brethren of St. Demetrios monastery near Skoplje; abbess Kyrana and some of her nuns from the Dormition's monastery, together with their spiritual father David; abbess Taisia and some of her nuns from St. Elias monastery, and finally the nun sister Olympiada from the a monastery which is under construction in the region of the town of Bitola.

We are not allowed any external contact, even for a moment. While we are in prison, the schismatic so-called "Macedonian" Church agitates and persecutes our monks and nuns and evicts them from the mentioned monasteries, so that they live now in several apartments in the town of Skopje. Likewise the schismatic church has appointed as priests abbots of the monasteries. Our Metropolitan John stays in prison, sentenced for 30 days on the basis of "having exposed religious hatred" (!). A court session has been scheduled for January 22, at 9 o'clock.

All-Holy Principal,

We have introduced to You as briefly as possible the external situation of our anguish in our Holy Archbishopric of Ohrid, but it is impossible to express the pain in our hearts. Only God, Who knows our innermost feelings (Apok. 2,23) understands our pain and grief. This will lead, we believe strongly, to a sacrificial witnessing of Jesus Christ for the joy of we small and humble of Christ's servants. But in the name of God, we would like warmly to ask Your All-Holiness always to pray for us that God might not discard us but look upon our humbleness. Also, we would like to ask You, Your All-Holiness, on behalf of Your Christ-like love to undertake everything possible for the liberation of our Metropolitan and spiritual father, the Procurator of Ohrid, Metropolitan Kyr John.

Your All-Holiness, pray for the Christian people in their suffering and for the Holy Archbishopric of Ohrid who has been terribly persecuted by false brothers!

Remaining with deep gratitude and sincere admiration for You personally, we would like to ask for Your God-recognized confident paternal prayers and blessings, kissing Your holy Patriarchal right hand.

+Marko Bishop Dremvitski and administrator of Bitola