Friday, November 30, 2007

"Balkan Idols" by Vjekoslav Perica [27]


The Balkan Nightmare Continues [and my closing thoughts]

This final, concluding section isn't as dire and fatalistic as the title suggest, but that is really not saying very much. Perica lets a ray of light penetrate the rather pessimistic prognosis, but that ray comes from outside the region; from the rest of Europe, which--he hopes--has changed from the days of Metternich and Bismark and the cowardly indifference of the 1990s. He hopes that the gloomy Balkan fatalism of Andric and Krleza just might no longer be fully justified.

Much of this chapter is slightly dated, although unfortunately not enough. This book was published in 2002 and therefore Perica is describing the situation slightly over half a decade ago. I will not cover the details as I assume most readers of this blog already know; for the purposes of covering the theme of the book I will note that Perica has little good to say on the role of religious institutions in the post-Dayton period. For the most part, prominent religious figures continued to nurture the respective myths and grievances of their particular ethno-religious community. There were, of course, exceptions--most notably the Franciscans of "Silver Bosnia" whose ecumenical outreach is all the more striking when compared to the crude nationalism and bigotry of the Herzegovina Catholic clergy.

Monuments, shrines, churches, and other religious buildings and sites continue to provide ready-made flashpoints for violence and conflict. None of the national churches have truly given up on their particular dreams of a purified homeland for "their" people.

And so on; Perica is mostly recapping the major issues from the book here. It is not an optimistic outlook except for the above-mentioned hope that a truly "new Europe" awaits, holding out the promise of EU membership and more. Perica notes that the Europe of the EU is very secular, little troubled by religion, run by internationally-inclined institutions. Europe, he wants to believe, is no longer content to sit idly while poisonous dysfunctions rot the new states of the western Balkans.

I wonder what Perica would write in an updated edition of this book were he to undertake such a task. I fear he may believe that his troubling book ended on too optimistic a note.


"Balkan Idols" is a useful and important book. I have alluded to some of its structural flaws and have taken issue with certain specific claims and arguments, but overall Perica's research and study overwhelm any such concerns--this area of study was very necessary for the region. Understanding the role that religion and religious institutions have played and continue to play in the nationalism of the region is vital. Perica rightly notes that, all too often, religion gets a pass in world affairs--given great leeway, allowed to take credit for any accomplishments but never held accountable for its failings.

There is more to be said about this issue. I am very curious to hear from others about this book. I should disclose the fact that I am an atheist--it troubles me not at all to read that organized religions act in negative ways with destructive results. I have no problem accepting that premise. But most people are believers to one extent or the other--how can Perica and others who accept his thesis present this argument in a way which doesn't scare many people away?

I hope to revisit this issue again in another post in the near future.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"Balkan Idols" by Vjekoslav Perica [26]


The Myth of the Three Evils of the Twentieth Century and Other New Myths

Perica writes:

"The most crucial single characteristic of the religion under consideration is worship of history. History as the principal object of worship entails myths that facilitate coming to terms with various historical controversies coupled with the worship of the nation (or ethno-religious community). I would single out three sets of new myths that most critically affected the period under consideration and are likely to exert significant influence on future events in successor states in the former Yugoslavia. These myths could be named as follows:

1. The Deep Roots Myth
2. The Jerusalem Myth
3. The Myth of the Three Evils of the Twentieth Century"

For anyone who has followed my review of this book--or, indeed, anyone who has read even a little on the Balkan wars--the first two myths probably need little elaboration at this point. For the first, Perica notes that Serbian and Croatian nationalism emphasized an imagined, mythologized ancient past and a continuity between the contemporary "true" nation and that past, irregardless of the intervening centuries. These "deep roots" trumped any other nationalism or national identity--whether Yugoslav or Bosnian. This insight is not original to Perica; his contribution has been to illustrate how fundamental religion and religious institutions have been in formulating and maintaining this myth.

I cannot improve on this paragraph, quoted in its entirety:

"In sum, architects of the Deep Roots Myth have labored to create a "visible" link between ancient ethnic communities and nation-states founded after the collapse of communism and disintegration of the former Yugoslavia. Their favorite word is "tradition," which they perceive as something immutable in ever-changing history, created centuries ago yet somehow coming to us intact and unaltered. As they make people conscious of these allegedly immutable things that resisted the power of historical change and invite the people to "wake up" and "return" to their "genuine" identities, their chief aim is to profoundly alter the current situation in the society, culture, economy, government, identity, and mentality of the people. In other words, ethnic nationalists say that nothing has changed since the Middle Ages in order to change everything today."

The second myth--the "Jerusalem Myth"--is obviously about Kosovo, but Perica also claims that the ideal of a mythic homeland. He writes:

"The ruins of the former Yugoslavia are full of tombs and monuments of all sorts and all ages, sites of martyrdom, wailing walls and sacred centers both above and under ground, to which the damned groups want to return but cannot. What the Jerusalem Myth really narrates is a story about a land of ceaseless resentment inhabited by eternal losers."

There is some bite to that analysis, and also much truth.


Perica was less successful at convincing me of the importance of the third myth, which he spends several pages arguing and yet in its essentials can be reduced to this--the Vatican, which throughout much of the 20th Century clearly supported many far-right and fascist regimes and opposed any left-of-center political movements as a secular threat to its own authority, has made a concerted effort in the post-Cold War environment to reinvent its past. The Vatican's revisionist strategy is to claim that the Church steadfastly opposed all totalitarianisms--communism, fascism, and Nazism--equally.

This is interesting, since it suggests that the beautification of Stepanic had little to do with intentional stoking of Croat nationalism but rather was part of a wider, global effort to rewrite history. Stepanic's martyrdom at the hands of Tito was the only thing which mattered; his actions during the Ustashe years simply did not compute.

However, Perica has thrown the net pretty wide here; he also gets bogged down in an attempt to determine whether or not the Vatican has maintained a double standard in dealing with right-wing versus left-wing movements and governments. It is a worthy subject of study, but it seems to come out of nowhere, and takes us far afield from the western Balkans. That is not to say he is wrong, or that there is no connection between this line of inquiry and the primary topic of his book, but the sudden turn to ideological debates within the Vatican is rather jarring. Oddly, Perica claims that this third myth is possibly the most important of the three he has outlined; I feel it is the least important, or more accurately the least directly relevant. Considering how much intellectual terrain Perica has mapped out in this book, he is entitled to an occasional wrong turn.


I know I promised to wrap things up in this post, but the final section is several pages long, and I wish to give it enough attention and space, as well as adding some final thoughts of my own. I will review the final section of this last chapter in my next post.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

"Balkan Idols" by Vjekoslav Perica [25]


The Myth of Religious Revival

After the fall of officially atheistic communist regimes throughout Eastern Europe, many predicted there would be a "religious revival" throughout the region. Superficially, the statistics bore this out--there was a huge rise in the number of people in most ex-Communist states professing religious beliefs and participation in/belonging to formal churches.

But a closer examination of the situation throws this "religious revival" in a different light--the growth was almost entirely in the official national churches, rather than among sects, cults, and other "bottom-up" spiritual movements. The "religious revival" in the former Eastern Bloc was almost purely "top-down." The official churches had led the fight against communism because they wanted to lay claim the the authority and assets of those atheist regimes for themselves. There was very little genuine theology or deeply-felt spirituality in this religious revival, contrary to Western assumptions.

To be frank, this section is somewhat disjointed and tries to cover too much ground. Perica attempts to link the discussion to a global rise in apocalyptic religiosity, with mixed results. I agree with much of what he says here--he rightly notes that religious organizations and institutions are quick to involve themselves in political and social debates without acknowledging that religion itself is often the problem. However, this and other larger points seem to come out of the blue; fortunately, his insights specific to the Balkans are premised on all which has come before, lending much credence to his conclusions, despite the far-ranging tangents he adds.

A Godly Idea in A Godless Regime: Religion and Yugoslav Communism

This section argues that Titoism, while still "by all means a part of the dark legacy of communism" was "less bad" than the competing nationalisms and ideologies available to the peoples of the western Balkans. By laying claim to the ideal of Brotherhood and Unity, Titoism forced the opposition to either make a nonviolent, alternative claim to that same ideal, or to undermine it and stand for division, intolerance, and hostility. While Perica initially seems to be waxing nostalgic for Titoism, he concludes by stating that Tito's rule was simply the "least worst" option which has so far proved workable.


Sorry for the long delay between posts--I will conclude my review of this final chapter in the next installment.

Friday, November 16, 2007

"Balkan Idols" by Vjekoslav Perica [24]


Legitimization of the state through religion becomes an extremely complicated and treacherous undertaking in multiconfessional countries. This is even more true in a multiethnic state where ethnicity has been defined, largely or in part, by religion.

Perica writes:

"The making and unmaking of Yugoslav states as a case study, in general, and its religious dimension, in particular, offers scholars a kind of "laboratory" in which important findings and conclusions can be made. Here are some of those conclusions."

Multinational States and Legitimacy by Religion

Yugoslavia never achieved legitimization from the national churches. Both the Serb Orthodox and Croat Catholic churches desired centralized, "ethnically compact" (Perica's memorable phrase) states with the church as the official or at least de facto state religion. Perica also notes that, whatever the pro-unity sentiments and political leanings of Bosnia's Muslims, there can be little doubt that most Muslim clergy at least dreamed of a Muslim state in the western Balkans. The desire to create a "relgious monopolt" leads to authoritarianism and conflict with neighboring states and other faiths. Perica terms the Balkan variant of this side effect of the theocratic impulse as "ethnoclericalism."


"The concept of ethnoclericalism is the Balkan case's contribution to the recent scholarship dealing with religious fundamentalism, "religious nationalism," and various challenges to the secular state and western liberal though about religion. Key components of ethnoclericalism are the idea of ethnically based nationhood and a "national church" with its clergy entitled to national leadership but never accountable for political blunders as are secular leaders."

Perica notes that "ethnic churches" are "designed as instruments for the survival of ethnic communities." As a result, they require a sense of crisis and the fear of some external threat, real or imagined. They are loath to accommodate "outsiders" or liberal ideas. They favor centralized, authoritarian social and political structures, designed to protect the community from outside threats and maintain the social order under duress. They define the ethnic group as members of the national faith, and for this and the other reasons listed before favor close collaboration with the state. Church and State are not to be separated--they are equal ruling partners.

The clergy of the national churches must be members of the national ethnic group. This is true in Orthodox countries generally, of course--Orthodoxy has a long tradition of church-state synergy. But in Croatia, in modern times, this has also been true of the Catholic church; in Croatia, Croat saints are superior to "foreign" saints just as Serb saints are superior to all "foreign" saints in the Orthodox faith. And Bosnian Islam is also marked by a distinctively Balkan ethnic nationalism not found in most Muslim countries. For all their antagonism, the national churches of the former Yugoslavia are, in some fundamental ways, merely different variations on the same theme.

Monday, November 12, 2007

"Balkan Idols" by Vjekoslav Perica [23]


Jerusalem Lost: The Serbian Church, the West, and the Failure of the Serbian Revolution

"Since 1990, Serbs and Serbia have been at war not only with all non-Serbs in Yugoslavia but also with the West."

Serbian Orthodox hostility to the West predated any Western involvement in the Balkan wars; in fact, Perica dates this open hostility to Senator Bob Dole's April 1990 visit to Kosovo. Typically, Serbian observers portrayed his sympathy to Albanian complaints as hostility to Serbian interests.

The Russian Orthodox Church came to the aid of their Serbian counterparts throughout the crises of the 1990s. In 1999, the patriarch of Russia gave a speech at the temple of Saint Sava in which he decried Western actions in Kosovo as imperialist. Anti-Western sentiments exploded in Russia and Serbia in the wake of the NATO campaign. The rhetoric coming from the Serbian Church was hyperbolic and extreme--the USA was portrayed as Satanic, thoroughly evil, and anti-Christian. Tellingly, the Belgrade Journal Duga claimed that the US was intent of forcing the intermixing of peoples in America's own image; Serbia and Germany--the two primary champions of homogenous nationalism in this conspiracy theory--were to be undermined by the introduction of Muslim populations in their midst.

After the Serb withdrawal from Kosovo, the Church turned on Milosevic--for not having been nationalist enough. Supporters of the Serbian Orthodox Church who proudly note that Patriarch Pavle and others supported the ouster of Milosevic fail to note that they did so not because he pursued a nationalist agenda, but because he failed to achieve it.

Vojislav Kostunica has been friendlier to the church than Milosevic was, and has made more public displays of piety. The church has been rewarded with some concrete state measures--the Orthodox catechism was introduced to public schools. Other church-requested measures, such as the elimination of the Latin alphabet from schools and public life, and state salaries for clergy, await. Meanwhile, Protestant sects in Serbia protested some of the new measure, but have been ignored both by the state and the church. The Kosovo myth continues to fuel a vindictive, self-pitying nationalism in Serbia.

Orphans of Brotherhood and Unity

Perica begins this section by noting that many observers considered the Yugoslav wars to be inevitable, since the country was "artificial" and susceptible to ethnic strife. He takes exception to this conventional wisdom, noting that many Yugoslavs believed in the civic religion of Brotherhood and Unity. The generation which had grown up in Tito's Yugoslavia was vested in its success, and many urban youth were inclined to embrace the secular and tolerant values which a multiethnic/multi-confessional state required.

Unfortunately, that generation--making up the bulk of the best-educated of the nation's youth--have been, in Perica's sadly apt phrase, "orphaned" by the destruction of Yugoslavia both as a country and as an ideal. The million or so citizens who considered themselves Yugoslavs by nationality no longer could; many were forced to become one nationality or another. Even more tragically, many among them came to embrace the exclusive nature of their new ethnic identity.

While many of the best and brightest left the former Yugoslavia for good, the young people who remained began to realign their loyalties along ethnic lines. The percentage of young people who would consider marrying outside their ethnic group dropped; and in Croatia, the percentage of young people who left from formally ethnically mixed areas was higher than the national average.

Meanwhile, even as the economies of the new republics faltered and crime became institutionalized, the formerly excellent national sporting programs fell into decline. Individual athletes, trained under the old system, still managed to find success, but usually away from home.

The new phenomena of "Yugonostalgia" was one facet of the post-war period, as many in the former federation looked back fondly on the Tito era and Tito himself; in 1998 a poll in Croatia found that Croats had a higher opinion of Tito than of Tudjman. But it was too late.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

"Balkan Idols" by Vjekoslav Perica [22]


After the fall of the Iron Curtain, Perica argues, the Cold War-era construct of "Eastern Europe" was replaced by "Central Europe" and "the Balkans." The Balkans, naturally, became known as a backwards and violent region outside the pale of the "real" Europe. The nations which came into being were not recognized as fully developed, proper countries--not without good reason, as nearly all of the ex-Yugoslav states descended into economic decline. Organized crime became institutionalized, as did political impotence and civic dysfunction. As he writes:

"And only the growing influence of myth and religion helped some people to believe that the new was better than the old."

The Catholic Church and Croatia's Return to the West

Perica notes that the Catholic church has twice had the opportunity to play a decisive role in forming a new Croatian nation-state in the 20th Century--during World War II, and in the early 1990s. In both cases, the church chose to support noxious, right-wing nationalist regimes which engaged in varying degrees of violence and persecution against other national and religious groups. In both cases, the regimes failed and were replaced. In neither case did the church repudiate the failed fascist regime, or engage in an honest assessment of events and its own responsibility. As Perica notes:

"Instead, like most religious organizations, Croat church leaders sought to substitute myth for history."

The Church actively supported the new nationalist regime in Croatia from 1990 onward. Tudjman and his party declared that the revival of Croatian independence and nationalism represented "Croatia's return to the West." Croats, according to the new myth, were being liberated from "atheistic communists and Orthodox Serbs." The Croats were going to turn their back on the primitive Balkans and "rejoin" the civilized, Christian (especially Catholic) Europe they believed they rightly belonged to.

They did a lousy job of it; much of this long section details how craven, hateful, and corrupt; and also undemocratic, sectarian, and anti-liberal (that is to say, un-Western) Croatia under the HDZ was. There is far too much information in this section for me to summarize without going on at length, but events and actions include:

-Terrorist attacks against memorials to the Partizan period and other symbols of multiethnic Yugoslavia;

-Purging books written in Cyrillac, as well as books by leftists, Serbs, pro-Yugoslavs, and even foreign authors "guilty" of atheism, socialism, or atheism (Mark Twain, Jack London, and Oscar Wilde were all banned) from schools and libraries;

-Establishing a commission to produce a "report" that claimed that the Ustashe committed few atrocities during the war, and those that were acknowledged were "reactions" to aggression by Serbs and other non-Croats;

-Official rescinding all verdicts by state courts against "innocent victims of communism and Croatian patriots." Known war criminals and pro-Ustashe terrorists were retroactively pardoned like everybody else;

-Various actions which served to establish the Catholicism as the de facto state religion, including actions which pointedly favored Catholicism over all other faiths;

-The HDZ and the Croat Catholic church collaborated in supporting the creation of the illegal breakaway state of Herceg-Bosna;

-The creation of an enormous, multi-layered state security apparatus.

The result was an economically devastated pariah state which was rejected by the West, run by an autocratic regime which was corrupt at the highest levels. The church was directly involved in corruption as well, serving as a conduit for transferring money out of the country and into secret accounts. Since these scandals threatened the integrity of the church itself, it should be no surprise that many voices from within the church spoke out in criticism of the Tudjman regime. But not enough voices; as Perica writes:

"Yet it is cold comfort for Croatian Catholicism to be somewhat less bad than Serbian Orthodoxy."

Eventually, economic disaster, international disapproval, and extreme corruption as well as Tudjman's death doomed the HDZ, which was replaced in the 2000 election by a left-leaning liberal government. At this point, the church could have embraced the opportunity to make a break with a sordid, nationalist past, and to truly embrace the "West" it had been rhetorically courting. It could have learned from the HDZ's failure--and from the failure of post-Yugoslavia Croatia--and reevaluated the ideology and mythic history it had been promulgating. Instead, the Church turned against the new, democratic government.

Slander against members of the new government (tellingly, the Croat Catholic church often labeled opponents as 'atheists') was followed by open support for indicted war criminals and more heated rhetoric.

Finally, there was an attempted coup organized by members of the HDZ, other right-wing groups and some military officers. The church did not official participate but many members of the clergy supported it; even some Bishops gave sermons openly challenging the legitimacy of the new government.

The church was also involved in a foiled attempt to revive the secessionist statelet of Herceg-Bosna in 1998, as well as in varied efforts--some of which were quite successful--to put nationalist clergymen in positions of authority, such as at the University of Zagreb.

In short, the Catholic church in Croatia protested the left-liberal, secular and democratic government of 2000 but supported the far-right Tudjman regime of the 1990s and the fascist Ustashe regime of the 1940s. Fortunately, the campaign to oust the post-HDZ government failed--as Perica notes:

"Thus, contrary to scenarios that would have sustained the myth of "The Thirteen Centuries of Christianity in the Croat People," it was not the Catholic Church that brought Croatia back in the orbit of Western civilization but a regime led by former communists that the Church had resisted in an attempted coup."

Thus did the national church of Croatia conclude its ignoble 20th Century.

Friday, November 09, 2007

"Balkan Idols" by Vjekoslav Perica [21]


The Politics of Saint-Making

The Croatian Catholic Church never gave up on the campaign to legitimize and elevate Cardinal Stepinac. This section details various political moves made by members of the hierarchy to reinvent the Cardinal as a hero of the anti-fascist (and anti-Holocaust) cause. The Church attempted to reach out to Jews by simultaneously canonizing Edith Stein, a nun of Jewish descent who died at Auschwitz. However, the request to have Stepinac made a "righteous Gentile" was rejected.

In the meantime, the Serbian Church, in 1998, announced the canonization of new saints in response to the Stepanic campaign; these saints were from the World War II era and represented an effort to counter the Croat myth of Stepanic with a Serb myth of Jasenovac. The Tito-era of Brotherhood and Unity was recast by both churches as a historical aberration.

Religious Organizations and the International Peace Process

This section essentially documents one phenomena--attempts by religious leaders to play peacemakers and act as conciliatory actors in response to western pressure, especially peace activism by western (oftentimes Protestant) religious groups. A great deal of noise was made, and many leading clerics from all three of the main national churches said many of the "right" things. Yet, Perica concludes pessimistically that little came of such dialogue, and little should be expected in the immediate future. These proclamations were long on abstractions and short on concrete proposals. Lots of sweeping calls for "peace in the Balkans" without the specific language needed to promote such a peace.

Perica does note that many individual cleric from all three churches took early, principled stands against nationalist rhetoric and against the war itself; later, many others made sincere efforts towards reconciliation and ecumenical dialogue. However, they generally did so as individuals. The national churches as institutions, and groups within those churches (as well as the leaders of each church) either remained silent at best, or either actively supported nationalist politics or helped encourage fear and intolerance.

Perica concludes this chapter with the gloomy quote (from Sarajevo author Ivan Lovrenovic):

"The 1992-1995 Bosnian war may not have been a religious war. But the next one will be for sure."

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

"Balkan Idols" by Vjekoslav Perica [20]


"In all the successor states of the former Yugoslavia except perhaps in Slovenia, religion became the hallmark of nationhood."

Islam and Muslim Nationalism in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Even as Slavic Muslims were being singled out for genocide by Serbian ultranationalists--and, for awhile, Croatian ultranationalists in western Herzegovina--Izetbegovic and the SDA pursued of a policy of "Islamicizing" the Muslims of Bosnia. Not to say that events and circumstances did nothing to politicize and "nationalize" the "ethnic Muslims" of Bosnia. Bosnians who wanted first to be Yugoslavs found that Yugoslavia was no more; then when they wanted to be Bosnians they found that "Bosnia" as nationality was no more as well; "Muslim" was all they had left.

While preaching secular tolerance and inclusion, Izetbegovic (who was much more of a fundamentalist Muslim than the vast majority of the Bosnian Muslims he ostensibly spoke for), and while fighting a war for the very survival of the multi-ethnic, secular and democratic republic he publicly defendig, Izetbegovic and the SDA

"...exploited such favorable international circumstances to launch an Islamic revolution aimed at creating an Islamic republic in Bosnia-Herzegovina."

By 1995, there were nearly 200 Islamic organizations operating in Bosnia-Herzegovina, including Hamas and Al Qaeda. The Islamic Community, once a staunch pro-Yugoslav organization, became a vehicle for the Islamization of Bosnian society. The SDA had replaced the moderate reis-ul-ulema Jakub Selimoski with the fundamentalist Mustafa Ceric; Selimoski (who admittedly might have had an ax to grind) would accuse Izetbegovic of turning the Serbian aggression against Bosnia into a civil war, and held the Bosnian President partly responsible for the Bosniak-Croat war of 1993.

It could be argued, however, that the process at work was less religious fundamentalism and more ethnic nationalism. Perica notes that school textbooks "glorified the Ottoman era." Many of the other actions of the new regime were sectarian rather than spiritual in focus. The government sponsored many official reburials and commemorations during the war. This process of Islamization continued after Dayton brought the fighting to an end.

Ceric proved to be a hardliner, opposing interfaith marriages and complaining about "Christian" content on state television during the 1998 Christmas season. He also encouraged Bosniaks to think of themselves as Muslims rather than Slavs, claiming that he had more in common with a Malaysian than an ethnic Serb or Croat from Sarajevo. And Ceric wasn't the only hardliner preaching at mosques.

The building of new mosques and other religious buildings picked up, funded by other Muslim countries. New Islamic and explicitly religious groups for Bosniak youth were also started up with foreign funding.

When Izetbegovic retired from politics, however, his campaign to sharpen the "Muslimness" of Bosnia's ethnic Muslims began to falter. The moderate success achieved by Haris Silajdzic's secular "Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina" in November of 2000 was just one sign that the secular and tolerant nature of Bosnian Islam was beginning to reassert itself; fundamentalism did not have deep roots in Bosnia.

The Madonna of Medjugorje and Croatian Nationalism in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia

Even as the Marian apparitions at Medjugorje became known to the outside world as "miracle" of "peace," Medjugorje became the spiritual capital of the ethnically cleansed Croat statlet of "Hercog-Bosna". The local Franciscans cozied up to the separatist leaders, giving them even more autonomy from the bishop and the official church hierarchy. Medjugorje became a cash cow and a center of vice and fraud.

The church had a difficult balancing act, attempting to temper the worst excesses associated with the growing cult and its patrons while not alienating Catholics from around the world who accepted the validity and the spiritual value of the apparitions at face value. Medjugorje, ultimately, played a decisive role in the establishment of an independent Croatia.

Religion and Nationalism in Other Successor States

While the Milosevic regime in Serbia proper kept its distance from the Serbian Church, this was not true in Republika Srpska, where the church became the de facto state church and efforts by Muslims and Catholics to rebuild religious building were blocked either by state action or by mobs. No members of the Serb clergy spoke out against war crimes committed by Serbs. More notoriously, of course, the church has quite surely helped Radovan Karadzic escape justice for over a decade now. And many Orthodox national churches have openly supported Karadzic's defiance.

In Kosovo before the NATO war, the church was also active in rebuilding and asserting itself, even as Milosevic's party hampered such efforts in Serbia proper.

In Macedonia, the Macedonian Orthodox church was involved in a power struggle with the Serbian Church, which had never recognized its independence. Confrontations were often hostile and rambunctious, with Serbian nationalist leaders taking part. Meanwhile, "Macedonian" nationality came to be defined as membership in the Macedonian Church.

And in Montenegro, a similar dynamic was at play as a nascent national church attempted to break away from the Serbian church. The Serbian patriarch spoke out forcefully against the Montenegran Church.


There are two sections left in this chapter; I will cover them in the next post.