UOC Primate expresses support for SOC due to the situation in Montenegro

His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine. Photo: UOC

What is happening today in the church life of Montenegro is caused by anti-canonical and voluntaristic actions of Constantinople in Ukraine, said the Primate of the UOC.

In light of the adoption by the Parliament of Montenegro of the discriminatory law “On Freedom of Religion and Belief and the Legal Status of Religious Communities”, which infringes on the rights of the Serbian Orthodox Church and provoked mass protests throughout the country, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine sent His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia a letter expressing support for the Serbian Church and solidarity with Orthodox believers in Montenegro. The full text of the letter is published on the DECR website of the UOC.

“A disappointing fact is that the Parliament of Montenegro ignores the will of the overwhelming majority of the believing people who oppose this law,” said His Beatitude in his letter. “Montenegrin authorities are also known for their disregard for the canonical Church of their country and support of the dissenters. Unfortunately, a similar thing happened in the recent past in Ukraine, where the position of schismatics, who actually constitute a minority in our country, was presented as the voice of the entire believing Ukrainian people, whereas the voice of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, uniting millions of believers, was ignored.”

His Beatitude emphasized that today the fullness of the UOC especially empathizes with the Serbian Church and the Orthodox people of Montenegro, “after all, over the past year, our Church has lived through the events known to the whole Orthodox world that are largely similar to what is now starting in Montenegro. These are seizures of our temples, beating the UOC believers, discriminatory laws against our Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and much more.”

“Undoubtedly, what is happening today in the church life of Montenegro is caused by the anti-canonical and voluntaristic actions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Ukraine, which were supported by the former dominant political authorities of our country,” said the Primate of the UOC. “Obviously, in a similar way and according to the same scenario, the Montenegrin state authorities, probably not without external influence, are trying to act in the religious sphere of their country, interfering in church life, supporting schismatics and discriminating the canonical Church.”

His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry assured Patriarch Irinej of Serbia that during this difficult period for the Serbian Church, "our Ukrainian Orthodox Church empathizes, prays and stands with you and with all the faithful united by your Holy Church."

“Indeed, according to the holy Apostle Paul: ‘If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it’ (1 Cor. 12:26),” the Primate of the UOC stressed. “I sincerely express my humble prayer support and fraternal solidarity to all the hierarchs, clergy and believers of Montenegro, and especially His Grace Bishop Metodije of Diokleia, who suffered from the actions of the local police. I pray that the All-Merciful Lord will grant our brothers and sisters – the Orthodox Christians of Montenegro – peace, tranquility, and the opportunity to pray unhindered in their temples, as well as enlighten and pacify the hearts of those who rebel against His Holy Church."

As reported by the UOJ, the Montenegrin Parliament passed a controversial law on religious freedom on the night of December 26 to 27, 2019, against the backdrop of mass protests that swept the whole country. According to this law, almost all religious buildings, built before 1918, become the state property – which is about more than 650 shrines of the Serbian Church, including the Ostrog Monastery, widely known in the Orthodox world.

Recall that the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church called the anti-church law adopted in Montenegro an act of supporting schism by weakening the canonical Church and attempt to humiliate it and make it subordinate to the state. Addressing the Local Churches, the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church emphasized that what is happening today in Montenegro in relation to the Serbian Orthodox Church can affect tomorrow any of the Churches.

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