Moscow, July 10, Interfax - The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church has expressed grave concern over the deterioration of the position of bishoprics of the Serbian Patriarchate in Montenegro.
"An alarming tendency is evolving in Montenegro of growing pressure of the government on the canonical clergy and laymen. The Bishops' Council of the Serbian Orthodox Church held on May 9-18, 2019 stated that there are "attempts to seize sacred objects for the benefit of the canonically and actually non-existent Montenegrin Orthodox Church and calls to destroy certain places of worship," a statement of the Holy Synod that held a session on Valaam says.
It says that Montenegrin President Milo Dukanovic at a party rally in Niksic on June 8 expressed intentions to "restore the Montenegrin Autocephalous Church."
The Synod is especially alarmed by the bill published by the Montenegrin government in May on the freedom of religion which contains several discriminatory measures such as the confiscation of part of the property of the Serbian Patriarchate, including churches and monasteries.
"Troubled by the latest initiatives of the Montenegrin authorities we are urging them to stop discriminating against the Serbian Orthodox Church and undermining its unity. We are raising our voices in its defense seeing the spiritual tradition dating back to St. Sava as a centuries' long historical foundation on which Montenegrin Orthodox Christian culture and statehood were built," the statement says.
At the same time the Holy Synod expressed support to the hierarchs, clergy and all parishioners of the Serbian Patriarchate in Montenegro who "despite the difficult conditions of persecution remain loyal to the truth of Sacred Orthodoxy."