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Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew: New Montenegro law providing for nationalization of church properties is “not fair”

Persecution of the Church in Montenegro: Holy Orthodoxy is the largest religious faith in Montenegro, with 460,383 Orthodox Christians comprising 74% of the Christian population. Nonetheless, the Government of Montenegro has adopted a law threatening the large-scale confiscation of church property. The Legal Council of the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral of the Serbian Orthodox Church both oppose this law, which Patriarch Irenaeus of Serbia and the Episcopal Council of Montenegro, Kirill consider to be an “attempt to place (the SOC) in a humiliating and dangerous dependence on the state.”

Here we see also that both His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Moscow Patriarch Kirill oppose this law as well. This law is a human rights issue, although few in the international media regard it as such: shall Christians in Montenegro actually be deprived of churches and other properties that have existed for centuries? The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, urgently requests the Government of Montenegro to scrap this law and protect the religious freedom of the Christians of the nation.

For previous coverage of this law, see here.

“Moscow, Constantinople patriarchs support Serbian Orthodox Church,” by Alex Chouvel, La Croix International, January 2, 2020:

La Croix International (02.01.2020) – – “It is with pain and concern that we have learned of the discriminatory law adopted by the Parliament of Montenegro and directed against the Serbian Orthodox Church.”

With these words, Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church extended his support to the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) over a law on “religious freedom”, adopted in Montenegro.

Passed Dec. 26 by the parliament in Podgorica, the law provides for nationalization of church properties whose churches cannot prove that they belonged to them before 1918, the date of the end of Montenegro’s independence.

Churches and monasteries

In a Dec. 28 letter to Patriarch Irenaeus of Serbia and the Episcopal Council of Montenegro, Kirill considers that the new law “constitutes an act of support for the schism.”

He sees it as an “attempt to place (the SOC) in a humiliating and dangerous dependence on the state.”…

For his part, Bartholomeos of Constantinople stated that Montenegro should remain under the jurisdiction of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

In an interview on Dec. 30 to the Serbian daily Kurir, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople said that “the only canonical Church in Montenegro is the Metropolitan Diocese of Montenegro and Littoral of the Serbian Orthodox Church”.

“We will never give autocephaly to the so-called “Orthodox Church of Montenegro,” he said.

Bartholomeos said that the new law “is not fair”. He had written a letter in June 2019 to Montenegrin President Milo Djukanović opposing the draft law.

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