Podgorica, Montenegro, February 4, 2020
In the wake of massive peaceful protests taking place throughout Montenegro on a nightly basis in response to the scandalous new law affecting Church property, the state authorities have called on representatives of the Serbian Church to come to negotiations on the matter.
In response, His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije informed Prime Minister Duško Marković that he is prepared to discuss the repeal of the law, or at the least, of its discriminatory provisions.
The Metropolitan’s letter was published yesterday, February 3, on the site of the Montenegro Metropolis of the Serbian Church.
The Prime Minister earlier issued a “final warning” to the clergy of the Metropolis for supposedly inciting “discontent and unrest” among the people, though the people continue to raise their voices in protest. Media reports state that Monday night’s protest in the capital city of Podgorica, was the largest yet, gathering 60,000 people, while upwards of 200,000 took to the streets on Sunday in various cities throughout the country that has a population of 630,000.
In his response to the Prime Minister, the Metropolitan refutes several of the politician’s theses, including the manifestly erroneous idea that the new law “is consistent with all European standards.”
“The content and purpose of the law, unfortunately, indicate the opposite, which both you and the general public of Montenegro could verify by seeing the professional and reasoned amendments of the legal council of our Church... This is especially true of the provisions of the law that deny and eliminate the centuries-old, continuous, historical legal status and property rights of our Church and other religious associations,” His Eminence writes.
“We are ready, taking into account the decisions of the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Episcopal Council of the SOC in Montenegro, respecting the Constitution of Montenegro, to meet with you in the hope that you are sincerely convinced to start a conversation on the merits, in accordance with the legal system of Montenegro, to repeal the law or all its discriminatory provisions … to restore peace and tranquility among all Orthodox believers in Montenegro,” Met. Amfilohije told the Prime Minister.
According to the Metropolitan, only after solving this key problem can there be a dialogue on other, no less complex issues, such as the restitution of illegally-selected property and the preparation and conclusion of a fundamental agreement between Montenegro and the Serbian Orthodox Church.
A message published on the Church website on February 1 states that the faithful pray for the conversion of the persecuting politicians to Christ, noting that, “the Church has not been and will not be the bearer of any ideology. The Church has its Head—Christ God, Whom it serves, Who founded the Church, and promised to be with it until the end of the world, and that even the gates of hell cannot destroy it.”