Ulcinj, Montenegro, June 10, 2020
Updated June 11, 2020, 1:10 PM
The Montenegrin government’s war against the Orthodox Church, and against the beloved St. Basil of Ostrog himself, in the words of His Grace Bishop Joanikije of Budimlja and Nikšić, escalated this morning with a sudden act of demolition at the new Monastery of St. Basil near the southern coastal town of Ulcinj.
“This morning, they surrounded the monastics' residence and started demolishing it, and the police aren’t allowing anyone to get near,” said one Ulcinj local, reports the site of the Metropolis of Montenegro of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
“It is indicative that this is happening after the Church’s decision to continue the protest processions,” reads the Church’s report.
His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro recently announced that the twice-weekly cross processions, begun in late December in response to the government’s declaration of its right to confiscate Orthodox Church properties and interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, will resume on Sunday, June 14.
“This morning’s event shows how right Bishop Joanikije of Budimlja and Nikšić was when he stated after his release from custody that the Montenegrin government is now fighting against St. Basil the Wonderworker of Ostrog,” the report concludes.
Bp. Joanikije and a number of priests were detained by Montenegrin police on the feast day of St. Basil of Ostrog, May 12, after the Orthodox faithful chose to join clergy in a procession in honor of the great saint. His Grace was released after 72 hours and awaits his day in court on June 19.
Met. Amfilohije celebrated the Divine Liturgy this morning at another Monastery of St. Basil, in Ostrog, where the saint’s relics are treasured. He noted in his homily that even as the authorities are demolishing his monastery, the saint calls all, both Orthodox and non-Orthodox to live in peace.
However, the state’s act is not just an attack on the Church or the monastery, but against the whole of Montenegro. “This desecrates the life of St. Basil of Ostrog and builds the future of Montenegro and its community on hatred for St. Basil,” the Metropolitan said.
“The Montenegrin government is deprived of the blessing of St. Basil,” he added. The same thing that happened to the Church under Turkish occupation, and the same thing that happened to the Church under communist oppression is happening today with the current regime’s disastrous policies, Met. Amfilohije emphasized.
“St. Basil, we have hope in you alone. We had and still have hope that you will reason with the fools, the mindless government of Montenegro that is desecrating your holy life at this moment, that you will reason with them if there is any possibility for them to come to reason. They worship false idols, false deities, denying the God of love, and love of God and love of neighbor,” His Eminence said forcefully.
“May God grant this government either to be healed of that wicked and poisonous seed, or let St. Basil remove it so that it does not pollute this people with evil, hatred, fratricide and deicide,” Met. Amfilohije concluded.
Updated June 11, 2020, 1:10 PM. It was originally reported that a guest house at the monastery was destroyed, but it was, in fact, the monastics' residence building.