Belgrade, January 16, 2020
Thousands of Serbian Orthodox faithful attended an outdoor prayer service for the old calendar new year on the night of January 13, which also included fervent prayers for the Serbian Church and its faithful who face persecution in Montenegro and Kosovo and Metohija.
The moleben was served by His Holiness Patriarch Irinej and a number of other hierarchs on the Vračar plateau at the St. Sava Memorial Church in Belgrade, reports the press service of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
“Dear citizens of Belgrade, thank you for gathering at the Church of St. Sava, which we will consecrate this year, fulfilling the long-standing hopes of the Serbian people. Let us thank the Lord for the year we have lived and let us celebrate the new year,” Pat. Irinej said, addressing the gathered faithful.
“The past year has been full of temptations both for our people and for the whole world. May the coming year be the year of the Lord’s mercy. We have also gathered to pray for our brothers in Montenegro, where the atheists have raised their hands against the holy places,” he added, referring to the recently-passed law that allows the state to seize properties from the canonical Serbian Church in favor of the small and schismatic “Montenegrin Orthodox Church.”
The Patriarch recalled that the actions of the authorities of Montenegro have been condemned by the entire Orthodox world, and that the faithful there are ready to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the faith. Montenegrins gathered by the thousands the day before in their capital city of Podgorica for a prayerful procession in defense of their Church.
Pat. Irinej recently received a letter of support from His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon of the Orthodox Church in America, and before that from His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and the Russian Holy Synod. A number of Georgian laity have also published an appeal in support of their suffering brothers in Ukraine and Montenegro.
“What happened woke up Montenegro, woke up the faith of the Montenegrins; the faith is alive, and this makes us happy,” the primate said.
He also called on the Montenegrin authorities to realize their mistakes, to leave the churches alone, and to come to their senses.