UOC spokesman: The same forces are behind events in Montenegro and Ukraine
The religious situation in Montenegro is in many ways similar to what is happening in Ukraine, and there is an explanation for this, Archpriest Nikolai said.
Behind what is happening now in Montenegro and in Ukraine there is one and the same great geopolitics, explained Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich, deputy head of the UOC Department for External Church Relations, in an interview with the online edition “Foma in Ukraine”.
“The fact that the anti-church bill has been registered recently (the bill on religious freedom in Montenegro – Ed.) speaks about policy interference in the affairs of the Church. After all, what happened in Ukraine would not have taken place if there had not been a certain influence of some strong geopolitical centres. And behind what is happening now in the Balkans, there is also big geopolitics,” said Archpriest Nikolai.
He stressed that the religious situation in our state and in Montenegro is extremely similar since Montenegro is the canonical territory of the Serbian Orthodox Church, but in this country, with the support of state power, there appeared a small schismatic group, the Montenegrin Orthodox Church.
“It is headed by the anathematized cleric of the Patriarchate of Constantinople Mikhail Dedeich who has previously served in Italy and was deposed for some breaches. The government opposes the canonical Church, and its representatives do not demonstratively take part in its solemn worship services,” the UOC spokesperson said to “Foma in Ukraine” journalists.
He recalled how in 2018 Metropolitan Anthony of Borispol and Brovary, Chancellor of the UOC, visited the festivities on the occasion of the memorial day of St. Basil of Ostrog in Montenegro and later showed photos of thousands of gathered believers, but there were no representatives of the authorities.
“External, non-church forces want to split Orthodoxy along their lines. But, thank God, the Local Churches oppose this. <...> Such situations are, in a sense, good. In the sense that it becomes clear where the real Church is and where it isn’t. The believing people themselves feel where the truth is and vote with their feet — they come to the temples of the canonical Church. As they say, people don’t go to an empty well,” the deputy head of the UOC DECR emphasized and noted that the example of the confrontation between the Local Churches and the geopolitical forces could be the fact of the non-recognition of the OCU by world Orthodoxy.
According to Archpriest Nikolai, trials and temptations have strengthened the UOC and inspired the clergy to work harder and express their positions more effectively.
“Look at how Western eparchies began to work with young people, how many summer camps began to operate! And before it was but less. Now, in the camps of the Volyn, Rovno, Ternopol regions, thousands of children probably rest up and relax,” he concluded.
As reported, the Holy Synod of the ROC published a statement about the situation in Montenegro, expressing deep concern about the deteriorating situation of the dioceses of the Serbian Patriarchate in Montenegro, where the schismatic religious organization “Montenegrin Orthodox Church” has been active for several years. The members of the Synod called on the representatives of the Montenegrin authorities to "stop the discrimination and the undermining of the unity of the Serbian Orthodox Church".