“A VETERAN Serbian orthodox priest claims he was illegally sacked after renting a church hall to an Afghan community group.
The 71-year-old priest is now suing the church’s leader in Australia and New Zealand at the time, Bishop Irinej Dobrijevic, and his former parish the Serbian Orthodox Church and School Community St Stefan, in Keysborough, for unspecified damages.
In a writ lodged with the County Court, Cedomir Videkanic claims that after renting the hall to the group in October 2014 he was exposed to “threats, abuse, intimidation, discrimination, bullying and harassment” by members of the Serbian community.
Mr Videkanic claims he suffers ongoing adjustment disorder with depressed and anxious mood, pain and suffering and exacerbation and aggravation of stress and anxiety as a result of his treatment by the church.
Born in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the former Yugoslavia in 1945, Mr Videkanic was ordained there in 1967 before migrating to Australia in 1973 to work for the Serbian Orthodox Church as a priest.
According to a communique from Bishop Irinej announcing Mr Videkanic’s suspension a “serious transgression” occurred at the event as “a result of gross mismanagement” by the priest.
“With due respect accorded to all faiths and their adherents, it will be understood that the Holy Canons of the Orthodox Church forbid the performance of religious rituals by those of other faith traditions, within our ecclesiastical and associated structures,” the communique said.
As a result of the incident Bishop Irinej led a service to reconsecrate the hall.
Mr Videkanic claims his suspension and his subsequent sacking by the church were both illegal.
He alleges the bishop and the church had a duty to provide a safe workplace and proper instructions to conduct his work.
Among the 14 specific acts of negligence outlined in Mr Videkanic’s statement of claim he alleges the bishop and the church failed to provide him with proper instructions about, or have any system for renting out the hall, or have a proper policy or procedure to deal with the hall rental issue.
He claims they failed to properly supervise his work or take reasonable care for his safety in the circumstances, subjecting him to harassment, intimidation and threatening and bullying behaviour, and allowing him to be the subject of abuse, vilification and taunting by the community.
Mr Videkanic has been the recipient of WorkCover payments so is not claiming medical expenses or financial loss, although he remains unable to work, and seeks damages for pain and suffering only.”