Podgorica, Montenegro, March 31, 2023
On March 27, His Eminence Metropolitan Joanikije of Montenegro of the Serbian Orthodox Church sent a letter of support for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Kiev Caves Lavra.
The fraternal assembly of Montenegro also made a statement of support a few days later.
“The intention to evict the brethren from the Kiev Caves Lavra, as well as from other UOC holy sites, which we are hearing about these days, seem simply incredible and are so absurd that it’s hard to believe it’s even possible,” His Eminence wrote, reports the UOC’s Department for External Church Relations.
He also emphasized that the Lavra is the “best symbol of solidarity and harmony for the Church, society, and the people, and is certainly not a stumbling block of source of disagreements.” While the UOC does everything possible to make this so, unfortunately do the exact opposite, “trying to overshadow all the good and benefits that the Church brings to its flock with various false accusations.”
“The fact that this false propaganda isn’t bringing the desired result is confirmed by the thousands of believers who are gathering these days and praying for the preservation of this holy site,” His Eminence emphasized.
Met. Joanikije also emphasized how even the non-Orthodox international community is outraged at what is happening: “For people living in the 21st century, it seems incredible that someone’s going to evict hundreds of monks from the monastery out onto the street.”
He also assured that the clergy and people in Montenegro pray for His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine and the whole UOC.
And yesterday, Met. Joanikije, together with the clergy, monastics, and faithful in Montenegro offered a prayer for the persecuted UOC.
In a video of the service, the hierarch calls on his flock to pray for the Kiev Caves Lavra and other holy sites in Ukraine, “which, unfortunately, the godless government, alienated from God, wants to take away from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.”
Though the UOC is crucified, its faithful are with the Lord, the Mother of God, and all the saints, Met. Joanijike believes.
The statement from the fraternal assembly that met yesterday also addresses the tragedy in Ukraine:
In our thoughts and prayers, we are inextricably linked with our brothers in Ukraine, where the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, led by its primate, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry, stands on the defensive of the Orthodox faith, enduring the most terrible persecutions—sufferings and persecutions that we thought couldn’t happen in the 21st century. We don’t forget their charity, the help and support that Metropolitan Onuphry gave us in our righteous struggle three years ago. At the end of the Liturgy, Metropolitan Joanikije prayed with the clergy for the salvation of the Orthodox people in Ukraine, for peace and brotherly love, and in particular they prayed that the Lord would save the Kiev Caves Lavra, which is currently under attack by godless and anti-Church authorities.