Culture of impunity shields pedophile clergy in Serbia and Croatia

Ivan Angelovski

Serbian and Croatian police do not have the political backing to confront child sex abuse crimes of the clergy. Clergy enjoy ‘de facto’ protection of state institutions, and judges and police are instructed not to proceed with such cases.

Two cases in Serbia highlight this state of affairs; one involved an abbot in Vojvodina who was moved from monastery to monastery, in spite of being charged with child abuse and who has now retired. The other involved the bishop of Vranje. He remains in his post.

Why are the clergy in former Yugoslavia now so powerful that they can shrug off accusations of a shocking crime – the sexual abuse of vulnerable children?

This story unpicks the powerful links binding the Orthodox Church in Serbia to the political and judicial establishment, showing how nationalism binds them together and enforces a “culture of silence” on certain issues.

The story explores the effects this has on the judiciary, talking to judges who will explain how they were “encouraged” to drop certain cases – and why they did so.

The author compares and contrasts the situation in the Balkans with that in Ireland, where a once very dominant Church, also revered by nationalists, has been exposed to scrutiny with devastating effects.

Will the states of former Yugoslavia ever summon up the political will to take on the Churches and their errant clergy?

Article style: Investigation

Fellow Bio


Ivan Angelovski

Ivan Angelovski, from Serbia, is a freelance journalist currently engaged, among other projects, at B92 on the Potraga TV programme

Fellowship Article

A powerful alliance of Orthodox clergy, judicial officials and politicians may have succeeded in shielding clerical child abusers from justice


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