His Beatitude Onuphry voices support for Serbian Church in Montenegro
The UOC Primate expressed concern over the deterioration of the Serbian Church in the territory of Montenegro and the threat of forcible seizure of its shrines.
On August 20, 2019, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine sent an address to the Metropolitan Amphilochios of Montenegro and the Littoral in light of the discrimination of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro and expressed his support for him.
Below is the full text of the document.
A letter from His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry to Archbishop of Cetinje, Metropolitan Amphilochios of Montenegro and the Littoral.
Most Honourable Vladyka Amphilochios!
It is with deep sorrow that we receive reports on the deteriorating situation of the Orthodox Church in Montenegro. The news that comes to us speaks of the threat of forcible expropriation of the shrines and wanton destruction of certain places of prayer worship, as well as many other acts of violence that cannot but disturb our souls and hearts.
We are also aware of the recent bill, promulgated by the Montenegrin state authorities, which is aimed at taking a number of discriminatory measures against the Montenegrin-Littoral Metropolis of the Serbian Orthodox Church in terms of its Church property. Unfortunately, all this happens in the wake of the support of nationalist sentiments by politicians and other stakeholders, alien to the nature of the Church, in order to separate Orthodoxy in Montenegro from the ancient tradition of the Serbian people.
These trials of Montenegrin believers are especially empathized in Ukraine, where the persecution of Holy Orthodoxy by individual agents of our Ukrainian state does not stop either. The clergy and laity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church are still confronted with a similar situation when some politicians, for the sake of the immediate secular interests, continue to tear the Body of the Church of Christ and introduce the spirit of secularism into the church sphere. Therefore, our hearts beat in unison offering prayers for each other today.
According to the Holy Scripture, “if one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Cor. 12:26). In these Gospel words, we find rejoice and comfort and our sorrow is transformed into joy.
On behalf of the episcopate, clergy and laity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, I express fraternal prayerful support to you, dear Vladyka Amphilochios, as well as the flock entrusted to your care, and I wish the continual help of God in your firm standing for the purity of the Orthodox faith and unshakable unity of the Church of Christ and our Lord, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15).
With brotherly love in Christ
Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine,
Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church
As reported by the UOJ, previously Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich, deputy head of the Department for External Church Relations of the UOC, noted that the religious situation in Montenegro is largely similar to what is happening in Ukraine, and there is an explanation for this: the same big geopolitics is behind the developments in Montenegro and Ukraine.
Recall that the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church issued a statement on the situation in Montenegro, in which they expressed deep concern about the deteriorating situation with eparchies 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 Montenegrin authorities "to stop discrimination and detriment of the unity of the Serbian Orthodox Church".