Berane, Montenegro, July 9, 2020
The persecution of the hierarchs, clergy, monastics, and laity of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro continues unabated, with the latest case involving a priest of the Diocese of Budimlja and Nikšić who has been given 30 days to leave the country.
Fr. Stefan Milovanović is a young priest from the city of Berane. He and his wife have one young child and are expecting their second. And despite the fact that his wife is a Montenegrin citizen, the Ministry of Interior recently decided that he must leave the country within the next month for carrying out his ministry during the epidemic, reports Sputnik Serbia.
However, Fr. Stefan is determined to remain in Montenegro, the place of his ministry.
Fr. Miloš Cicmil, also from Berane, reported the incident on his Facebook page.
My dears, Father Stefan Milovanović received a decision from the Ministry of the Interior, after he was previously denied the extension of his place of residence, which he duly renewed for 4 years on the basis of marriage with a Montenegrin citizen and employment, TO LEAVE THE COUNTRY WITHIN 30 DAYS.
The reason for the decision is for allegedly serving during the epidemic, although, Fr. Miloš emphasizes, Fr. Stefan did not violate any of the quarantine measures.
“WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE ARE YOU? WHAT IS SACRED TO YOU?” Fr. Miloš asks those who continue to support the state authorities.
Fr Stefan’s fellow diocesan priests have nothing but praise for him, reports the diocesan press service, and, in addition to Fr. Miloš, many clergy and residents have taken to social media to condemn the government’s decision.
“I’m not going anywhere from my Montenegro. I will not depart from the Cetinje monastery and St. Peter of Cetinje, next to whose relics I was educated. I will not say goodbye to St. Basil [of Ostrog] either, with whom I spent many services in the Ostrog Cave, because I am staying here,” Fr. Stefan exclaimed.
“This is my home!... My wife is a citizen of this country. A video of my daughter in which she sings that we will not give up our sacred sites has traveled the world, and in October I will receive an heir whom I will welcome with a clean face. I swore that I would defend the saints with my life. There is no surrender!” he said.
Earlier, five priests were criminally charged for a cross procession on St. George’s day, May 6, in Berane.