Montenegro: processions against anti-Church law to resume on Sunday

Podgorica, Montenegro, June 9, 2020

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The peaceful cross processions of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro in protest of the anti-Church law passed in December that grants the authorities the right to confiscate Church property will resume again this coming Sunday, June 14, the feast of All Saints.

The twice-weekly processions, in which hundreds of thousands of citizens of Montenegro participated since late December, were interrupted due to the state’s coronavirus quarantine measures.

This Sunday, molebens for peace, fraternal harmony, and reconciliation will be held in churches throughout Montenegro, after which the Orthodox faithful will take to the streets, His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro said at the Church of the Resurrection in Podgorica, reports RTCG.

“Unfortunately, those who are in power continue to support the criminal law and claim that the sacred sites that were built here from apostolic times and from the time of the holy Emperor Constantine and Empress Elena belong not to the people, but to them,” His Eminence said.

He also expressed hope that “God will enlighten the minds of those who rule Montenegro,” and that the international community will help “stop the virus of fraternal hatred and hatred for God in Montenegro, thanks to which those who are now in power want to continue to rule.”

“We will not allow our holy sites to be seized, and the cross processions will continue from the week of All Saints, from next Sunday… The faithful and clergy will again continue to serve molebens for peace, brotherly harmony, and reconciliation in all the churches of our Church, and at the same time, they will go through the cities in procession. The people have asked me to do this, and I have to respect them,” Met. Amfilohije explained.

The faithful of Montenegro held their first procession after the lifting of quarantine measures in the seaside town of Bar on June 4 in honor of St. Jovan Vladimir, the town’s patron saint.

Earlier, two clergy processions unexpectedly turned into mass processions with the faithful while the quarantine was still in effect, resulting in a number of clergymen being arrested. Five priests were criminally charged after the procession on the feast of St. George on May 6, and His Grace Bishop Joanikije of Budimlja and Nikšić was detained together with 7 priests for 72 hours after the procession on the feast of St. Basil of Ostrog, May 12.

Met. Amfilohije also recalled that he himself was recently detained by police on more than one occasion for celebrating the Divine services.

After the 1990s, everyone had hoped that the persecution against the Church would stop, but it has only increased in our days, the Metropolitan emphasized.

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