Ukrainian scenario for the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro

  • Serbia
  • 29.Nov ‘19
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Montenegro left the alliance with Serbia in 2006, but the church borders remained the same, as the metropolitan of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Recently, the political leadership of Montenegro has been harshly criticizing the Serbian Church for undermining national interests, covert propaganda of pro-Serbian ideas, etc. Now the authorities are ready to put words into actions.

According to Prime Minister Duško Marković, the Montenegrin government is ready to forcefully teach the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral of the Serbian Patriarchate to respect the laws of the country:

“The Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral as well as the metropolitan Amphilochius do not respect the laws of Montenegro and do not want to accept the fact that Montenegro is an independent state. But the state will explain it to them by the force of law. The government will continue to discuss legislation on religious freedom for a while, but in the end, it will be proposed to the parliament, and then we will explain to the metropolis their rights by force of law.”

The new law on freedom of religion, which Marković wants to push through, essentially deprives the Serbian Orthodox Church of the monopoly on the ownership of church property and can lead to the transfer of a significant part of its property to the unrecognized Montenegrin autocephalous church. The Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral of the Serbian Orthodox Church requires the recall of the bill and further discussions between the parties concerned.

“Metropolitan Amphilochius and the priests of the Serbian Orthodox Church do not respect the fact that Montenegro is a member of NATO and a European state. It was asked if he really thinks that the state does not have enough strength to stop and destroy the illegal intervention on its territory. We have such power. We can do it in one day, in one night. We can also solve the problem with the church on Rumia and all other churches that you build without the acceptance of the state. But we do not want to do this, we want to come to a decision in a dialogue,” said the Montenegrin Prime Minister.

The church on Mount Rumia is a metal church on the top of the mountain, established back in 2005, when Serbia and Montenegro were united, and consecrated by the same Amphilochius and Bishop Gregory of Herzegovina. Since 2006, representatives of the unrecognized Montenegrin autocephalous church, then Albanian nationalists, and the government have been trying to destroy it.

In turn, the Metropolitan of the Serbian Church Amphilochius makes the following claims against the Montenegrin authorities: support for the non-canonical Montenegrin autocephalous church, recognition of Kosovo’s sovereignty, and the imposition of sanctions against Russia.

The recognition of Kosovo by Montenegro took place in 2008, but now the conflict between the metropolis and the authorities has escalated in connection with the process of demarcating the border between Kosovo and Montenegro.

In general, the dynamics of relations between state and church in Montenegro is very similar to the events of the spring in Ukraine in 2018, when the country’s political elites advocated the creation of an independent national church.

However, there is one significant difference: if Bartholomew I of Constantinople was ready to fully support Poroshenko’s initiative, but in the case of Prime Minister Marković, Constantinople does not show interest in the project to create Montenegrin autocephaly so far: “The difference with Ukraine … is that Russia invaded and occupied the Kyiv Metropolis, which was never ceded to Russia, while Serbia owns everything that it has … It means that the Ecumenical Patriarchate does not intend to amend the Charter of the Serbian Orthodox Church or change its borders without any consent and cooperation.”

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