Mlaka – His Holiness the Patriarch of the Serbs, Irinej, the Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral, Amfilohije, and the Bishop of Lipljan, Jovan, today served the Holy Liturgy at the renovated Church of St. Elijah in the village of Mlaka near Jasenovac on the occasion of the day the inmates broke out of the Jasenovac Concentration Camp, April 22. The Liturgy was served in memory of all the innocent Jasenovac victims.In his address to the faithful, Patriarch Irinej said that the church of St. Elijah in Mlaka lies on the land on which hundreds of thousand of martyrs were killed only because they were Serbs and Orthodox.
“This was their only guilt, and the criminals wanted to erase from the face of the Earth all Serbian and Orthodox people,” Patriarch Irinej said.
He added that it is hard to explain what motivated these people to commit such a crime. According to him, this crime is a crime that even the devil did not commit.
“Men and women were killed and, most tragically, innocent children were killed. The noble Diana Budisavljevic saved over 12,000 children, and how many were killed will remain an eternal secret,” the Patriarch of the Serbs said.
Patriarch Irinej said that the land on which the Jasenovac concentration camp stood is soaked with blood and filled with bones.
The Patriarch said that the suffering of innocent Serbian people in this camp was not in vain, since they were freed of sufferings which only God saw.
“I am certain that God rewarded them as they did not want to renounce their name and faith. This church of St. Elijah in Mlaka bears all wounds of our people, innocent women and even more innocent children who were killed because they were angels,” the Patriarch said in front of 200 or so faithful.
The Patriarch said that the sufferings of the Serbian people in the Jasenovac concentration camp are the best proof of how low a man can fall.
“This was not done by a foreigner of some other faith, and it is even more horrible that this was done by Christians. I do not want to judge or curse them, but we must not forget. Let God judge them as there are God’s laws and justice,” the Patriarch said.
The Patriarch said that we must not forget the holy killing grounds.
“This is why this church is important as the souls of those martyrs are joyful for this Liturgy and church. Glory to them! And may God grant them eternal life,” the Patriarch said.
The Liturgy was attended by some 200 or so faithful. The director of the Republika Srpska Secretariat for Religion, Dragan Davidovic, attended the liturgy as envoy of Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik, as did the president of the Serbian National Council in Croatia, Milorad Pupovac.
The village of Mlaka in WWII was a collection centre of the Jasenovac concentration camp for women and children from Kozara. Over 30 children died there daily of hunger, heat and contagious diseases. Several mass killing grounds are in this village.
Before WWII, 1,500 or so people lived in this village, only 12 km from Jasenovac.
The complete population of the village, including 250 children, was taken to the Jasenovac concentration camp in the spring of 1942.
Forty or so Serbian returnees live today in the village of Mlaka. The village is devastated, the road infrastructure is in a very poor condition, so that it is hard to reach the church of St. Elijah by macadam road.
The Secretariat for Religion of the Republika Srpska Cabinet initiated the reconstruction of this church, which is planned to be completed next year.