ROC demands Montenegrin authorities end discrimination against Serbian Church

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MOSCOW – The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church is deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation of the Serbian Patriarchate’s dioceses in Montenegro, where for several decades “the unity of Orthodoxy has suffered from the divisive activity of the so-called Montenegrin Orthodox Church”. This is stated in the statement of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, adopted on July 9 in Moscow.

The statement recalls that the Bishops’ Council of the Serbian Orthodox Church, held in May 2019, stated that “in modern Montenegro there are” attempts to forcibly seize shrines in favor of the canonically and really non-existent “Montenegrin Orthodox Church”. Therefore, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church stressed in its statement that the draft law on freedom of religion and belief and the legal status of religious organizations, which the Government of Montenegro published in May 2019, and to which serious comments were made by the European Commission for Democracy through Law (W.C. Venice Commission).

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“Taking with concern the recent initiatives of the Montenegrin authorities, we urge them to stop discrimination and undermine the unity of the Serbian Orthodox Church, raise their voices in her defense, seeing in the spiritual tradition dating back to Saint Sava, the centuries-old historical foundation on which Montenegrin Orthodox culture and statehood were built” – read a statement published on the official website of the Moscow Patriarchate.

On June 15th the main church of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) held a service in in Podgorica in support of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro, in connection with the plans of the Montenegrin government to withdraw the property of the SOC and transfer it to the so-called Montenegrin church, led by schismatic priest Mirash Dedeich.

The Montenegrin authorities submitted to the country’s parliament for consideration a law on freedom of religion, which provides for the removal from the SEC of all churches and monasteries built before 1918. It is about more than 650 shrines, among which is the famous Ostrog monastery.

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