How Long, O Lord?

Letter From Serbia

Since the Middle Ages, the Balkan region of Kosovo-Metohia has witnessed firsthand the confrontation between Christianity and Islam.  Metohia is a Greek word meaning “the Church’s land,” and Orthodox Christians consider Kosovo an outpost of their civilization.  Muslims, on the other hand, continue to regard the region as a precious remnant of Islamic penetration into Europe.  Although Christians and Muslims clashed many times in the course of the Turkish conquest of Christian Bulgaria, Serbia, and Greece, two events stand out in popular memory: the Battle of Kosovo (1389) between Serbs and Turks and the fall of Constantinople (1453).

When I visited the Ecumenical Patriarch, His All Holiness Bartholomew, in Istanbul, he asked me about the life of Christians in Kosovo and about the condition of their churches.  We Serbs still call Constantinople Carigrad (“the emperor’s city”), and I found it difficult to speak of the persecution of Christians in a city whose Christian heritage has suffered so much over the centuries.  In Constantinople and Kosovo-Metohia, two sacred Christian places that were once the foundations of Greek and Serbian nationhood, there are now very few Christians.  In Kosovo, even old houses and medieval churches, which once bore witness to Christian civilization, have been devastated—many of them just in the past few years.


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