The newly-appointed acting religion minister in the interim Serbian government has signaled a new departure in the Balkan state's religious policy. In an exclusive statement faxed to Keston News Service in Belgrade on October 27, Gordana Misic-Anicic signaled that she would reverse a decade of government refusals to hand back religious property confiscated from the Orthodox Church in the communist period. As a move "to start to urgently correct all the historical injustice done to our Church" Misic-Anicic said she would look favorably on the Orthodox Church's desire for religion to be taught in schools.

However, she also stressed that she intends to improve the government's relations with other faiths in the country, of which she singled out the Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, Reformed and Lutheran communities "and other religious communities which legally operate in the Republic of Serbia."

Rejecting the "ideological state" which for 55 years "systematically and without mercy broke the connection between the Serbian people and its spiritual base - the Serbian Orthodox Church," Misic-Anicic declared that it was right for the state to help the Orthodox Church which, in turn, would help Serbia "stand up and proudly move toward the community of the Christian nations of Europe, where it always belonged."

Recognizing that as interim minister "my office will be rather short," she was keen to set her new policy in motion. "As our first priority we should consider the return of church property confiscated and nationalized on various pretexts after the Second World War," she told Keston. "We will also carefully consider all the modalities of the return of the Orthodox Theological Faculty to the University of Belgrade."

She also rejected the ...

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