Библијски институт

[STATEMENT] Statement of the Collegium of the Biblical Institute (07.05.2020)


Statement of the Collegium of the Biblical Institute

Faculty of Orthodox Theology, University in Belgrade


Regarding the fact that the call for signing a petition for the protection of Father Vukašin Milićević from the spiritual authorities of the Serbian Orthodox Church and thus against the alleged suppression of freedom of speech at the Faculty of Orthodox Theology of the University of Belgrade (where V. M. is employed as an assistant professor) was published in an interview given in German by professor and current head of the Department of Biblical studies of this academic institution Dr. Rodoljub Kubat, entitled "Prohibition on public speech against the assistant professor of the Faculty of Theology in Belgrade" (Redeverbot für Dozenten an der Theologischen Fakultät in Belgrad) on the website www.noek.info on April 30 of the current year, the Collegium of the Biblical Institute - which consists of all other members of the Department and other external associates - considers it necessary to officially distance itself from such an appearance and presentation of reality. The reasons for such a procedure are multifaceted. First of all, the fact that the invitation to sign the petition was expressed by the head of the Department of Biblical studies may imply that the same opinion is shared by the remaining members. The publication of this call in German, by one of the participants in numerous accomplishments that have made the Institute prominent in international biblical scholarship, means appealing to this part of the public that is directly and substantially related to the activity of the Institute, but which is not at all familiar with, or has insufficient knowledge of, the context of political developments in Serbia, in the light of which this call can only be understood. With all this in mind, all of us members and external collaborators of the Biblical Institute feel a duty and obligation to completely and utterly deny the extremely one-sided and malicious presentation of the situation at the Faculty of Orthodox Theology in Belgrade, where the vast majority of colleagues allegedly support the will of the Patriarch and the Holy Synod out of fear for their position. This is not true. The members of the undersigned Collegium have their own view of the problems that have shaken this institution lately, but instead of elaborating on that - for which now is neither the place nor the time – they will in unison say that their actions are fully in line with the academic principles of freedom of conscience, thought and speech. This is the basic quality of the Biblical Institute and, as can be easily verified and confirmed, the entire teaching and scholarly collegium of the Faculty of Orthodox Theology.

At the same time, the Collegium of the Biblical Institute also finds it appropriate to remind, in its disavowal from the views of our colleague Kubat, of the importance of certain spiritual authorities - in the controversial interview presented as the cause of the problem - in promoting critical thinking and free speech in the academic framework of Serbian theology. First of all, the Biblical Institute was founded with the blessing of the Serbian Patriarch Irinej and with the dedicated efforts of numerous bishops, priests, monks and laypeople of our local Church. In these endeavors, the prominent place belongs to Bishop of Bačka Dr. Irinej Bulović, who until his retirement in 2015 was the head of the Department of Biblical studies and whose decades of professional experience, accompanied by burdens of Episcopal service in times of wars, sanctions and other difficulties, were also marked by a significant effort to select a staff which will be able to meet the challenge of the Institute's theological work from 2015 onwards. Thanks to his help in advisory capacity, infrastructural and material form, and his great international reputation, the Institute has managed to connect the most diverse profile of intellectuals and direct them to responsible research and promotion of Christian heritage. This fact was assessed as a triumph of true democratic values in Serbian society. It is, therefore, the academic and moral duty of the undersigned Collegium to testify that a different interpretation of reality - given in the interview with colleague Kubat - is a distortion of the truth that every Christian ought to and wants to live for.


Collegium of the Biblical Institute

Faculty of Orthodox Theology

University in Belgrade


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