On the day of the great Christian feast - Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God, urged by the Euro-Atlantic democratic principles of respect for the religious rights of the prisoners, clergymen of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric came to the central prison Idrizovo, near Skopje, in order to bring Holy Communion to His Beatitude, the Archbishop of Ohrid Jovan, to honor the feast and if they are allowed to have a short conversation with him.
We will only mention the example of the neighboring Republic of Bulgaria, where the state, which pays the salaries of the priests, organizes a Liturgy every Sunday for the prisoners of orthodox Christian confession and allows them to go to confession and take Communion. Of course, in the spirit of the civilized values of mutual respect, appropriate rights are given to the members of the other religious confessions.
However, it is quite the opposite in the Republic of Macedonia. The clergymen of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric were greeted with the rudest words at the entrance of the prison. They were told that they (the guards) will never, as they themselves said, allow “convicts” to take Communion in the prison. They also said that the newly-appointed warden gave strict orders not to allow any visits to the Archbishop Jovan, and most definitely not to allow him to take the Holy Communion if he asks for it or to greet any of his even slightest religious needs. Let us remind you that the prison management still does not allow him to read the New Testament.
The clergymen of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric, who carried with them the Chalice with Holy Communion, were threatened to leave the yard before the prison, although at the same time there were also other people who came to visit their closest.
In 34 days, the time that Archbishop Jovan is in the prison Idrizovo, neither the priests, nor the monks, nor his parents or closest relatives have been allowed to visit him.
In 34 days, the time that Archbishop Jovan is in the prison Idrizovo, as far as we know, no one, at least of his nearest, has visited him, nor has anyone heard any news of him.
Simply, no one of the Church, not even the relatives of Archbishop Jovan, has even basic information of his whereabouts, of his accommodation, how he is treated by the prison management or if he is in good health. All the attempts to get to an answer to the aforesaid questions were answered by silence.
We appeal to the Macedonian government and to the international community to stop this religious discrimination towards Archbishop Jovan, and not only towards him, but also towards all the prisoners, members of various religious confessions.
We appeal to the conscience of all the honorable supporters of the practical application of the basic human rights and freedoms, so that they will intercede in favor of answering the questions about the accommodation, treatment, health and basic religious freedoms in the prison of the Archbishop of Ohrid Jovan.
From: Information Service of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric