eurel     Données sociologiques et juridiques sur la religion en Europe et au-delà


  • October 2022 : Religion and security

Two strategic documents have been issued as concerns security dealing with religion : Strategy for National Security and Strategy for Prevention and Supression of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism.

National Security Strategy
In Strategy for National Security, as one of the security challenges, risks and threats, it is recognized that, “terrorism and violent extremism, hate speech, i.e. advocacy of hatred and intolerance on the basis of ethnicity, race, religion or on any other basis, when used by religious and/or political leaders, is one of the motivating factors for radicalization. and should be treated with special care”.
The State’s response to this “will be based on strengthening national capacities to combat these challenges, coordinating the activities of all subjects within the country...”.

CVE Strategy
Strategy for Prevention and Suppression of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism sets the strategic goal of “Increased resilience of society, better response of institutions and stronger international position of Montenegro in the fight against radicalism and violent extremism”.
Within the operational goal “Increasing resilience of Montenegrin society to radicalism and violent extremism” it is foreseen “to continue with the implementation of coordinated campaigns in the public, with a strong affirmation of counter/alternative-narratives to radicalisation and violent extremism, with special attention focused on young people, and in synergy with state institutions, civil society , the media, religious communities and the academic community, through the ’involvement of the whole community’ approach”.
Also, within the operational goals, is mentioned ”Strengthening the capacity of Montenegrin institutions and other subjects to fight against radicalism and violent extremism and strengthening the mechanisms of their cooperation and coordination”. Cooperation with the religious communities is foreseen.
Representatives of religious communities participated in the round table on the occasion of the creation of the Strategy.

National PCVRLT Platform
The Strategy refers, among other documents, to the National Platform for Countering Violent Extremism and Radicalisation Leading to Terrorism. Under the slogan "Together against violent extremism", the Platform unites “representatives of competent state institutions, local self-governments, media, political parties, non-governmental associations, religious communities, the academic community and individuals who can contribute to opposing these phenomena”.
In this documentt it is underlined that, “religious communities also have a very important role in spreading tolerance in the education of believers, preventing the abuse of religion and condemning those extremists who commit crimes ’in the name of religion’, contributing to this fight”.

Sources :,,

  • October 2022 : The capital Podgorica grants the islamic community 30,000 square meters for an Islamic centre

On October 19, the Capital Podgorica took the decision to transfer the ownership of 30,000 square meters of land to the Islamic Community of Montenegro, free of charge, for the purpose of building a religious centre.

The Government of Montenegro had previously given its consent. The procedure had started with a request of the Islamic Community of Montenegro from June 22, 2022 for the allocation of a plot for the construction of a religious building.

The head of the Islamic community in Montenegro, Rifat Fejzić, expressed his thanks via Twitter : "Today, by the decision of the Parliament of the Capital Podgorica, the Islamic Community of Montenegro officially received land for the construction of an Islamic centre. I want to thank the entire Government of Montenegro without exception, the Parliament of the Capital Podgorica and especially the Mayor Dr. Ivan Vuković".

Out of 620,029 citizens of Montenegro according to the last Census (2011), 118,477 declare themselves as belonging to Islam. The Agreement on the regulation of relations of common interests between the Government of Montenegro and Islamic community in Montenegro was signed in 2012.

Source :, scanned document (

  • October 2022 : New public opinion research : Serbian Orthodox Church interest outweighted state interest

A majority of 56,4% of respondents thinks that the Government of Montenegro was dedicated to the interests of the Serbian Orthodox Church against 43.6% who think that governmental dedication was expressed to the interests of the State of Montenegro. These are the results of a CGPuls research of public opinion, conducted by the Center for Civic Education and DAMAR Agency from 1st to 10th October 2022 on a sample of 1022 citizens.

Among other questions, the opinion on the two issues presented on the EUREL website were a matter of research : the Fundamental Agreement with the Serbian Orthodox Church (See the September 2022 "Montenegrin Academy of Sciences and Arts criticises the fundamental agreement between Montenegro and the serbian orthodox church" article ; the October 2022 "The European Commission in the Report on Montenegro 2022 : Fundamental Agreement with the Serbian Orthodox Church raised tensions" article) and the financing of private denominational schools (See the October 2022 "Controversy decision of the government to finance two Orthodox secondary schools" article).

To the question “What is your opinion on Dritan Abazović’s (Prime Minister) decision to make the signing of the Fundamental Agreement with the Serbian Orthodox Church a top priority and to do it quickly, despite the opposition of certain members of the government and many relevant actors on the social and political scene ?”, answers are structured as follows : 36.4% claim that, “It is a rash and thoughtless decision” ; 27.5%, “It is a brave and well-founded decision” ; 20.8%, “The fundamental Agreement with all religious communities should be signed, but not in this way” ; 15.3%, “Don’t know/don’t have an opinion”.

The question “Should the government fund private religious educational institutions” was responded with 43.4% “No”, 29.5% “Yes”, and 27.1% “Have no opinion”.

  • October 2022 : The European Commission in the Report on Montenegro 2022 : Fundamental Agreement with the Serbian Orthodox Church raised tensions

No credible efforts have been made to overcome the societal and political polarisation, which culminated with the enthronement of the Metropolitan of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) in September 2021 and the signing of the Fundamental Agreement with SOC in the summer 2022. This is the key religion-related finding from the European Commission’s Report on Montenegro 2022, published on October 12th.

High-risk Enthronement

The EC noted : “The mass gatherings during the enthronement of the Metropolitan in the Cetinje Monastery on 5 September 2021 had not been announced to the police, thus preventing them from taking appropriate security measures. Violent clashes between police and some protesters took place amidst the otherwise peaceful religious ceremony. Formal investigations into the use of excessive force and torture by the police are ongoing.” (p. 39).

Demonstrations of the citizens of Cetinje and other cities were deamed the event of the highest security risk in the recent Montenegrin history. Demonstrators tried to prevent the enthronement in Cetinje Monastery, the historical centre of Montenegrin statehood and the strongest symbol of Montenegrin identity, including religious identity. They argued that the enthronement led by the Head of the SOC Porfirije Perić was a symbolic subjugation of Cetinje and Montenegro to Serbia in the name of the concept of „Serbian world“, as a new variation on the old theme of the Great Serbia.

On the eve of the enthronement, the Montenegrin Orthodox Church (founded in 1993, canonically unrecognised. It determines itself as a re-created historical Montenegrin Church, which existed until 1918 and the creation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians), organised a three days peaceful cultural program under the title „Montenegrin National Assembly“, in Cetinje. The day before the enthronement, demonstrators were joined by the President of Montenegro Milo Đukanović, whose Democratic Socialist Party, together with other opposition parties and subjects, strongly supported and participated in anti-enthronement activities.

On the other side, the enthronement was supported by the Government of Montenegro and its President Zdravko Krivokapić, that is by the parliamentary majority, created after the parliamentary elections on August 30, 2020. On that election, the Democratic Socialist Party lost after 30 years in power, mainly on the wave of mass and unprecendent demonstrations in the form of Church processions (litije) which took place in almost all Montenegrin cities. They protested against the new Law on Fredom of Religion and Legal Status of Religious Communities, which prescribed the nationalisation of church property. The main pro-enthronement argument was that it is a historical tradition since centuries, as well as a question of freedom of religion and of the autonomy of the Church. On that line, demonstrations were marked as organised by President Đukanović, abusing religious issues for political purposes.

The day before the enthronement, demonstrators blocked the approaches to Cetinje, ultimately asking the Government and the Church to cancel the enthronement in Cetinje Monastery. One of the alternative proposals was to enthrone the new Metropolitan in the Cathedral of the Christ’s Resurection in the Capital Podgorica where Patriarch Porfirije Perić was solemnly welcomed that day. High representatives of other orthodox churches came to Montenegro to attend the enthronement.

The situation became critical during the night and early morning when, after a complex and controversial communication within the Government, it was decided to break up demonstrations and organise the arrival of Patriarch and Metropolitan from Podgorica to Cetinje by helicopter. While the police were showering demonstrators with tear gas and expelling them with other means, the Patriarch was enthroning the new Metropolitan in Cetinje Monastery, in presence of a minimal number of people, while others, including guests from abroad, were waiting their return to Podgorica Cathedral to celebrate.

The European Commission said this is a matter of serious concern as a religiously motivated attacks took place (p. 36), including one “on a bus transporting children and young people from Niksic in Cetinje in April 2022” (p. 36), who previously visited Cetinje Monastery and sang Serbian songs in front of it.

Low-risk Fundamental Agreement

Further tensions, as the EC noted in the Report, were raised with the conclusion of the Fundamental Agreement with the SOC, which took place “amidst protests from CSOs, several members of the government and some political parties, leading to a vote of no-confidence and the subsequent fall of the government” (p. 4). This “had an impact on the political atmosphere” (p. 4), since following the signature of a Fundamental Agreement “the government was challenged by part of its own majority and lost a confidence motion on 19 August” (p. 12).

The Fundamental Agreement was the object of the similar critics from the same addresses criticising the enthronement, but this time followed on one side by low-risk protests of a small group of activists in the front of the Government, although on the other side strengthened by an official negative opinion of the Presidency of the Montenegrin Academy of Sciences and Arts.

Common denominator

Finally, there are many common denominators between the enthronement and the Fundamental Agreement, one of them, completely banal but illustrative, marked both events. Namely, like for Cetinje on enthronement, Patriarch Porfirije Perić came without public announcement, almost secretly, in Podgorica to sign the Fundamental Agreement, leaving back to Belgrade immediately after the event - by helicopter. While in the public space of Montenegro, one can still smell the mixed scents of incense and tear gas...

  • October 2022 : Congregational Prayer for the sanctity of marriage and preservation of the family versus “Montenegrin Pride”

The day before the “Montenegrin Pride” which was held on Saturday, October 8th in Podgorica under the title “Never more but”, the Serbian Orthodox Church held a Congregational Prayer for the Sanctity of Marriage and Preservation of Family, in the front of the Cathedral Church of the Christ’s Resurrection.

This is for the first time that the Church organized a congregational prayer against the “Montenegrin Pride” since it was first organised 10 years ago. In an invitation addressed to “all those who adhere to traditional values, morals and faith to a congregational prayer with icons but without political symbols, slogans and banners”, the Church stated that, “in our country there are events that directly destroy the God-blessed marriage and family, destroy traditional values” (See Mitropolija).

The Proclamation from Congregational Prayer states that, “we live in a time of instinctive totalitarianism, where sin, selfishness, self-love and personal preferences of individuals are set as a measure of love, truth and freedom” and that “in our capital city, as well as in many cities around the world, parades and performances are held with aim to impose on us, as a society, a disturbed system of values that, according to our deep feelings and convictions, aimed at endangering us under the guise of human rights and freedoms”. It is further stressed that “the FAMILY is the basic cell of every society”, in which “a person first learns the blessed order (…) receiving an education on which he later builds knowledge and multiplies his talents, becoming an active and responsible member of society and community”, as well as that “not only our society and our people, but also civilized Europe is built on those principles”.

The Church underlined that it does not attack anyone, “nor is it in its nature to prevent or impose something by force in any way, and condemns every form of violence, but it has an obligation and responsibility to protect, defend and preserve eternal and imperishable human dignity and that prophetically, taught by biblical centuries-old experience, admonishes, warns and reminds of the word of God, calmly and prayerfully surrendering both oneself and others to the will of God”.

The proclamation continues with emphasizing that “today, we are faced with a real invasion of some perverted values that want to impose themselves on us, with the sole aim of collapsing the blessed, natural order in the family and in society” : “In that system, sin is declared a virtue, evil for good, man-hatred for philanthropy, depriving man of the feeling of sin and shame, and therefore of repentance as the deepest expression of man’s desire to change for the better, to progress and grow.”
The Church noted that “it is imposed that everyone, without exception, must accept that value system and live in accordance with it” : “If anyone opposes this, he is condemned in advance, crucified, stoned and accused of homophobia. We don’t want to interfere with how anyone organizes their life. Nor is it about a personal relationship with anyone in particular. It is about the fact that we cannot accept anyone’s weaknesses, personal preferences and choices that are not in accordance with the order established by God, and which are imposed as a new social norm and rule. We cannot remain silent and accept without a word that the media, education, culture, and political institutions are turned into means of constant and permanent psychological and moral pressure in the service of violent social engineering. We cannot allow that pagan ideology, clothed in the rhetoric of human rights, to change the Christian principles and values that our people have lived by since they knew themselves. We cannot help reminding ourselves and others of the words of Paul, the apostle of the people : ’All things are lawful for me, but all things are not profitable’."

In the days prior to both events, the daily newspaper Vijesti published an article titled “Prayer for the chosen ones. Where was congregational prayer for domestic violence : How does the fight for rights endangers anyone ?” which starts by stating that the Church dids not respond to its journalistic question : how tdoes he LGBT population threaten the family and marriage of heterosexual people ? Vijesti further quotes representatives of LGBTIQ NGOs, who said that, “it is completely clear that the congregational prayer is directed against LGBTIQ persons, characterised even earlier by the Serbian Orthodox Church as destroyers of traditional family”, pointing out that “the real destroyers of families are violent violent people who beat their wives and children almost every day, kill, rape and commit verbal, physical and psychological violence against them, but so far there have been no prayers against violence” (LGBT Forum Progress). They also stressed that, “the announced prayer contradicts what Patriarch Porfirije said during the discussion on the Law on same-sex unions in Serbia, which is that he understands the need for LGBT people to regulate their status, and that they have countless administrative problems, challenges and pressures…”, using this opportunity to “invite all people of good will to come to Pride on Saturday, to fight for equal rights and a dignified life for all people." (Queer Montenegro, see Vijesti).

The Church reacted explaining that, “it does not call for violence, prevent or deny someone’s right to free expression, but asks for a prayer meeting in another place and on another day, precisely in order to reduce the possibility of any conflict”, asking : “Which principle of democracy affirms the right of one group of citizens to gather, and make a bogey out of the gathering of another group ? Especially if both gatherings are registered and organized in accordance with the law. Why the title "Prayer for the chosen ones", when the Church’s invitation does not even indicate that participation in the prayer is forbidden to anyone ? Why mentioning domestic violence in the context of this prayer, when it is not about anything similar, not the same things ?” (See Vijesti).

The public dispute continued even after the “Montenegro Pride”, but one message from this manifestation was a witty moment. Namely, in the form of a banner, the following message was sent from LGBTIQ society to organisers and participants of congregational prayer : “Hold your religious processions ’within four walls’.”

  • October 2022 : Three news about the relations between Montenegro and the Holy See

2022 could be named the year of historical documents for Montenegrin-Holy See relations : firstly, in January the first tome of edition “Monumenta Montenegrina Vaticana” was presented, as a collection of documents on the Concordat of the Principality of Montenegro and the Holy See from 1886. Secondly, during the official visit of the Prime Minister of Montenegro Dritan Abazović to the Holy See on 10-11 October, the correspondence of the ruler of the first Montenegrin state Duklja with three Roman popes dating from the 11th century was exposed. During this visit, Prime Minister Abazović suggested to the Pope Francis a meeting of World religious leaders in Montenegro. A couple of days earlier, the new Apostolic Nuncio for Montenegro was appointed.

Historical documents
The first volume of the edition of "Monumenta Montenegrina Vaticana" was published in 2020 by the Ministry of Culture of Montenegro, with the help of the Embassy of Montenegro at the Holy See. The book contains documents from Vatican State Archive and the Fide Propaganda Archive, the State Archives of Montenegro, the Archive-Library Department of the National Museum of Montenegro, as well as the archives of the Archdiocese of Bar, and materials published so far. It is a bilingual edition of 400 pages, prepared by Montenegrin historians Slavko Burzanović and Boban Batrićević.

As presented in the Governmental press, in honor of the Prime Minister Abazović visit, the Apostolic Library exposed manuscripts of historical importance for Montenegro : “The first is the correspondence of King Mihailo Vojislavljević of Duklja with Pope Gregory VII, dated 9 January 1078, while the second is the original monumental work ’Church Chronicle’ by Archbishop Andrija Zmajević, handed over to the Vatican in 1694 personally by the author, and discovered in 2021 and 2022. The manuscripts were discovered thanks to Lenka Blehova Čelebić, a historian and philologist from the Charles University in Prague, who discovered the correspondence of rulers of Duklja with three Roman popes during the 11th century”.
Prime minister Abazović announced that Montenegro will celebrate 960 years of these documents as a jubilee of Montenegrin-Holy See diplomatic relations.

Idea of the world religious leaders meeting
During the meeting with the Pope Francis, the Prime Minister of Montenegro Abazović presented the idea of organizing a meeting of the world religious leaders in Montenegro.
” The Pope reacted positively to my proposal that Montenegro be a place of unification, a place where meetings of world religious leaders, who at this moment must promote peace in the world, would take place. I tried that if Montenegro can play a role, it is that role. That would be historic for Montenegro, but it depends on a million factors. We are sending a message that Montenegro is a bridge”, said Prime Minister Abazović after the meeting.

New apostolic nuncio
Pope Francisco appointed on 1st October Mons. Francis Assisi Chullikatt as a new apostolic nuncio in Montenegro, Bosnia, and Herzegovina. He was titular archbishop of Ostra, served as apostolic nuncio in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Iraq and Jordan. In the years 2010-2014, he was a permanent observer of the Holy See at the United Nations in New York and a permanent observer at the Organization of American States.
The seat of Apostolic Nunciature is in Sarajevo, the Capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

  • October 2022 : Controversy decision of the government to finance two orthodox secondary schools

Religious controversies in Montenegro continue on a new occasion : the Government decided to finance the two secondary schools, funded by the eparchies of the Serbian Orthodox Church, with 900,000 euros.

As officially published after the Governmental session held on September 29th : „The Government adopted information on the financing of the secondary religious school ’Saint Sava’ in Podgorica and the Secondary religious school ’Metropolitan Hadži Sava Kosanović’ in Nikšić and accepted the proposals of financing contracts. On this occasion, the Ministry of Education is tasked with implementing both contracts and pay to these schools funds in the amount of 450,000 € each, which are necessary for the establishment of those institutions“.
However, the issue of the two schools has been raised in the public much before this governmental decision. It goes back to the last month of the mandate of the previous Government (April 2022) when the Ministry of Education, Science, Sport and Youth issued a licence for these two secondary religious schools. Answering questions from media, the Ministry explained that word is not about religious schools, except in their names, but about private schools whose founders are eparchies of the Serbian Orthodox Church, with educational programs for general secondary schools and without educational subjects from the domain of religious studies and philosophy of religion (See Vijesti).

Former minister of education and science (2003-2008), member of the Montenegrin Academy of Sciences and Arts Slobodan Backović was wondering in the author’s text for the portal Antena M : "The school is religious, and it runs a general secondary school program ? Very illogical.” He asked several questions : “If the school is religious, where are the religious subjects and contents in the general secondary school program ?” ; “Was the religious school program approved and when ?” ; “Is the educational staff provided ?” ; “Is adequate space, teaching aids, etc. provided ?” ; “Are funds provided for establishment and operation ?”
Namely, in accordance with the General Law on Education and Training, the school can start operating when the Ministry determines that it meets the conditions for establishment and issues a decision on licensing : see Conditions for establishment, Article 46.

The Law further requires : see Financial guarantees, Article 46a.

The founder of a private institution is obliged to submit, in addition to proof of the fulfilment of the requirements from Article 46 of this law, proof of the paid founding fee for a period of three years to the account of a commercial bank or a guarantee from a commercial bank that financial resources have been provided to the extent of the necessary funds for the implementation of the educational program.
Proof of the paid founding role or commercial bank guarantee from paragraph 1 of this article will be activated in the event that the founder makes a decision to terminate or stop the operation of the institution before the completion of the student’s education according to the educational program, at the request of the state administration body responsible for budget affairs.
The founding contribution, i.e. the funds required for the implementation of the educational program from paragraph 1 of this article, are calculated in relation to the cost of educating students for a specific educational program and the number of students for which a license is requested.
Exceptionally from paragraph 3 of this article, the amount of the founding role, i.e. the funds required for the realisation of the educational program of preschool education and education and the adult education program is determined by the Ministry, by a special act, based on the cost of education of the child, i.e. of the participants for a certain educational program, i.e. the education program and the number of children , that is, the student for whom a license is requested.
The funds from paragraph 2 of this article will be used to complete the student’s education.
Backović asked the Ministry can it publish the license and evidence that all conditions prescribed by the Law have been met and stated : “In the rush to comply with the school founder’s request, it seems that illegal decisions were made for which someone should be held responsible. The license decision does not even state who applied for the establishment of these private religious secondary schools. Why is it hidden when it is clear to everyone from the names of the schools who submitted the request ?” Finally, he stressed that against the decision on licensing an administrative dispute should be initiated due to non-fulfilment of the conditions prescribed in the Law (See Antena M).

Indirect, partial answers to those questions could be found precisely in the two information of the new Ministry of Education on financing of the two schools, endorsed by the Government on September 29th. The Ministry informed the Government that the two secondary schools addressed it with the request for financing in accordance to the Article 139 paragraph 3 of the General Law on Education and Training : see Conditions for financing a private institution, Article 139.

It is obvious that the regime of financing of secondary religious schools (which carry out publicly valid educational programs) is not based on provision related to private schools, but on the previous article, related to public schools : see Method of financing, Article 138.

The Ministry further simply states that the schools possess licences for work, elaborating that the approval of the educational program of those schools was not needed, since they did not create their own programmes, but accepted the publicly valid program from 2016, approved by the National Council for Education. Thus, the question of the validity of licensing remained unanswered.
It is evident that the Ministry construed the Law in a way that it based its decision to finance the two religious secondary schools as public schools from Article 138, using the method of their financing through administrative contract from Article 139.
Finally, the Ministry explained that this kind of financing „is foreseen by the Law on the Budget for 2022, within the ’support to religious schools’ program.“

Backović reacted in the author’s text for Portal Analitika that the Governmental decision to accept this information and finance those schools “can be said to be shameful and criminal” : “Because in the founding act of the religious school ’St. Sava’, the Metropolitenate as the founder states that : ’funds for the establishment and operation of the Gymnasium are provided by the founder’ ; schools do not meet the conditions for work stipulated by the Law ; schools do not have school buildings at the addresses from the founding documents (…) they did not enrol students (there was no public competition) ; there are no employed professors ; there is no decision that educational programs for schools have been determined by the National Council, so that the educational program for those schools would become public and thus the schools would acquire the right to issue public documents (whether these schools will issue diplomas as religious schools or as gymnasiums, given that the Ministry claims that schools will work according to educational programs where there are no religious subjects ?) ; there is no evidence of deposited financial resources necessary for the operation of the school.”
For him, the school licensing commission committed a criminal offence, as these "phantom" schools exist only on paper. Backović quoted Minister for Education, who, when asked at the Governmental session whether there will be religious subjects in the educational programs of these religious schools, answered : “There probably will be.” Former minister concluded that “all the events surrounding religious Serbian Orthodox Church schools indicate that it is a well-organized group that uses fraud to circumvent the laws of Montenegro”.

For the Center for Civic Education (CCE) also, the Minister of education is entering the zone of criminal and misdemeanour responsibility. CCE sent the initiative for reviewing the legality of licensing and withdrawing requests for financing of the two schools from the Budget to the Ministry of Education.
From their point of view, these schools cannot start operating until the procedure for reviewing illegally issued licenses is initiated, as well as the re-procedure for their issuance, which entails precise procedures : “Until then, any action taken by the Ministry based on currently illegal decisions on the licensing of the above-mentioned institutions makes the Minister and the Ministry complicit in breaking the law," concluded the Center for Civic Education (See Vijesti).

October 2022 : The first Orthodox Pastoral Counselling Centre in Montenegro was opened in Podgorica

The first Orthodox Pastoral Counselling centre in Montenegro has opened in the capital Podgorica. It was founded by the Metropolitenate of Montenegro and Littoral of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
This spiritual and therapeutic centre was modelled on the same centre in Belgrade, which opened in 1997 and, as emphasized, recorded remarkable results in its work.
It is announced that the centre will organize therapy and counselling meetings with both individuals and families, and will pay special attention to children who need help due to various ailments.
It will include, as an integral part of its work, psychologists, psychiatrists, defectologists, and others, who volunteer to aid all those who need help to overcome psychological and spiritual problems. If necessary, experts will carry out an assessment, diagnosis and prescribe therapy. All help will be free of charge.
The Pastoral Counselling Centre will be open every working day from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Source :

  • September 2022 : Petition in support of the Montenegrin Orthodox Church

The Orthodox controversy in Montenegro continues : the Montenegrin Orthodox Church (MOC), self-proclaimed autocephalous Church founded in 1993, claims its continuity with the Montenegrin Church from the Kingdom of Montenegro. It has launched a petition “by which the citizens of Montenegro and the faithful of the MOC ask the state authorities to enable the Montenegrin Orthodox Church in the state of Montenegro to bear its cross as the successor of the church, which in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Montenegro from 1905, Article 40, is named and has its status defined by the sentence ’The Montenegrin Church is autocephalous’”. It asks the “illegally registered Montenegrin churches, monasteries, cultural assets and church land in the ownership of the Serbian Church, i.e. Serbia, to be re-registered in the ownership of the State of Montenegro.”

The MOC stated that “King Aleksandar Karađorđević unconstitutionally abolished the Montenegrin Church by decree on June 17, 1920, and Montenegro has not used the right to restore the status of domicile church to the Montenegrin Orthodox Church.”

The head of the MOC, who bears the title of Bishop and Metropolitan of Montenegro, Michael, appealed :
“Our homeland Montenegro is under attack from outside and inside. It is denied the right to be a state, Montenegrins are prevented to have a national identity, and the Montenegrin Orthodox Church is crucified. The authorities support foreign interests with laws that defy morality and justice. They legalized Montenegro as a colony whose legal acts are written in other countries, and its policy aligns with the interests of some neighbouring countries. The state attacks by force against all those who stand steadfastly on the defence of the homeland and protect its freedom. At the recent peaceful civil protests in Cetinje and Nikšić, it attacked the participants in such a way that it put their lives in question. The backbone of such a policy is the Serbian Church, to which all our churches, monasteries built by our ancestors, and movable and immovable church property were illegally registered as property. The church uses them to incite hatred against Montenegrins, minority peoples, members of other religions and Montenegro, from the pulpit and altar. It turned the monasteries into barracks, and with the money from the sale of the church land, finances the policy that invokes evil and threatens civil peace. That is why I appeal to all citizens of Montenegro, at home and abroad, regardless of religion or nation, before it is too late, to stand up in defence of the fundamental values of civilization and civil peace, which are threatened by the joint action of the Montenegrin Government and the Serbian Church. That church property must be returned to state ownership again, and the Montenegrin Church must be restored to the status of a domicile church with all the consequences that come from that. That’s why I invite you to sign the petition in written or electronic form here.

The signing of the petition started in Cetinje, continued in Podgorica, and will be organized in all Montenegrin cities.

  • September 2022 : Montenegrin Academy of Sciences and Arts criticises the fundamental agreement between Montenegro and the serbian orthodox church

The Fundamental Agreement between Montenegro and the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) has been signed on 3 August 2022, by Prime Minister of Montenegro Dritan Abazović and Patriarch of the SOC Porfirije Perić in Podgorica.

Among other institutions and subjects, the Presidency of Montenegrin Academy of Sciences and Arts (MASA) sharply criticised the content of this agreement, stressing that it ignores the first-class sources of the History of Montenegrin Orthodoxy.

Namely, in the Preamble of the Agreement, parties refer, among others, to the Church organisation since the founding of the Archbishopric of Žiča, the Patriarchate of Peć, i.e. the SOC, “starting from the fact that the Christian Church has been present on the territory of Montenegro since the apostolic times and its continuity mission through the historical Orthodox and church organisation since the founding of the Zeta, Budim and Hum episcopies of the Žiča Archdiocese (1219-1220)”. Additionally, in the Article 1, respect is expressed to “the contribution of the SOC in the social, cultural and educational development of Montenegro and the historical role of the Metropolitanate of Montenegro-Littoral during the time of the Montenegrin metropolitans/rulers”. It is also noted that “the SOC in Montenegro consists, as its organic part, of the Metropolitanate of Montenegro-Littoral, the Eparchy of Budimilje-Nikšić, the Eparchy of Mileševa and the Eparchy of Zahumlje-Herzegovina and Littoral (or : Zahumlje-Herzegovina)“. In the next article, “The state recognises the continuity of legal subjectivity and, in accordance with its Constitution, guarantees the Church and its ecclesiastical legal entities (dioceses, church municipalities, monasteries, endowments, independent institutions and funds and, according to the church’s purpose, certain temples) the exercise of public law powers in Montenegro in accordance with Orthodox canon law and the Constitution of the SOC”.

MASA referred, first of all, to the Constitution of the Holy Synod in the Principality/Kingdom of Montenegro (1904), and the Constitution of the Principality/Kingdom of Montenegro (1905), in which it is clearly stated that the Orthodox Metropolitanate in the Principality/Kingdom of Montenegro – Montenegrin Church is autocephalous, exactly like the Serbian Church in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Serbia (1888). It was composed of : "1) Cetinje archbishopric, composed of all the tribes located on the right side of the Zeta River, with the addition of the town of Podgorica and the Zeta tribe. This archbishopric is managed by the Archbishop of Cetinje, who is also the head of Orthodox church in Montenegro with the title of Metropolitan of Montenegro, Hills and Coastal Areas. The seat of the Cetinje archbishopric is the capital of the state - Cetinje. 2) Zahumlje-Raška eparchy, composed of all the tribes located on the left side of the Zeta River. This eparchy is managed by the Bishop of Zahumlje-Raška. The seat of the Zahumlje-Raška eparchy is in the Ostrog monastery."

In the process of creation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians in 1918, the Holy Synod of the Montenegrin Church decided to unite with the Serbian Church. Its autocephaly was abolished, and it joined the administrative unity with the Serbian Church. Archbishop of Cetinje lost his archbishopric title and power, and became one of the episcopes in the new relation between the principles of primate and conciliarity, with the former Belgrade Metropolitan as the patriarch of the Autocephalous United Serbian Orthodox Church of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians, later and until today - SOC.

MASA stressed that, after the restoration of independence of Montenegro in 2006, there was a certain organisational adaptation of the SOC to the new political reality and state system, through the decision of the Holy Council of the SOC which issued the following decision :

... Respecting the reputation of the Montenegrin Metropolitanate and its historical role in the life of Montenegro, which regained its statehood, as well as beyond ; In order to achieve the saving mission of the Church as successfully as possible, this Holy Synod of Bishops decides :
The Orthodox Church in Montenegro consists of the Eparchies of the Serbian Orthodox Church : Montenegro-Littoral, Budimlje-Nikšić, as well as parts of the dioceses of Mileševa and Zahumlje-Herzegovina. The bishops of the mentioned dioceses make up the Episcopal Council of the Orthodox Church in Montenegro, which, under the presidency of the Archbishop of Cetinje (as his old title reads) and the Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral, will meet as necessary for consultation and decision-making within his jurisdiction …

In 2021, the Holy Council of the Serbian Orthodox Church abolished this decision and onsequently its three main elements : the name „Orthodox Church in Montenegro “, the honourable title of Archbishop and the Episcopal Council. In MASA’s opinion, this abolishment has been verified with the Fundamental Agreement.

Further on, MASA criticised the Article 7 in the following parts :

"The State guarantees to the Church the inviolability of property and state rights over monasteries, temples, buildings and other real estate and premises in its ownership, in accordance with the legal order of the State.
The state is obliged, in accordance with its own legal order, to register all unregistered immovable properties in the ownership of the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral, the Eparchy of Budimlje-Nikšić, the Eparchy of Mileševa, the Eparchy of Zahumlje-Herzegovina and their ecclesiastical legal entities to which they belong.

MASA stated that guarantees of inviolability of property are already contained in the Constitution of Montenegro, and that "additional guarantee by contract is redundant and unusual". It reminded that in the property-legal regime of the Principality/Kingdom of Montenegro, which has not been legally changed until today, Orthodox churches and other ecclesiastical institutions are independent legal entities and owners of movable and immovable property. MASA emphasised that, in accordance with this, hundreds of monasteries and churches are registered in the Cadastre in their name, as independent owners.

Obligation to register all unregistered immovable properties in the ownership of the eparchies of the SOC is "unnecessary and legally unacceptable". MASA concluded that the Fundamental Agreement cannot be a valid legal basis for registration (although this is not explicitly stated in the text of the contract), and it cannot be used to solve the property-legal regime on Orthodox monasteries, temples and other church assets. MASA proposed, having in mind that " these issues are too complex and require more detailed analysis and solutions” to adopt a special law on the property of religious communities, which would respect traditions, customs... comparative legal solutions, as well as solutions and standards in EU law”.

See the Fundamental Agreement between Montenegro and the Serbian Orthodox Church in PDF format.

  • April 2022 : Opinion Poll on Confidence in Religious Institutions

A recent opinion poll places the Serbian Orthodox Church at the top, the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the middle, and the Montenegrin Orthodox Church at the lowest level of a confidence scale.

The Serbian Orthodox Church is still at the highest level of trust of Montenegrin citizens with 40.7%, while the Montenegrin Orthodox Church only gathers 15.7% of respondents. This was shown by the latest research of the NGO Center for Monitoring - CEMI and the Montenegrin News Agency MINA, conducted from March 5 to 22, on a sample of 961 respondents.
Only the health system enjoys a greater trust than the Serbian Orthodox Church (44.6%). Below the Montenegrin Orthodox Church is the Government of Montenegro with 13.7% and political parties with 10.4%.
Between the two religious communities one finds the education system 38.3%, the Army of Montenegro 38.1%, the World Health Organisation 35.3%, the United Nations 34.6%, the EU delegation 33.7%, the social protection system 33.4%, the police 29.5% , non-governmental organisations 28.6%, NATO 27.9%, the President of Montenegro 23.3%, the Parliament of Montenegro 17.2%, the prosecutor’s Office 16.7%, the judiciary 16.2%.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate also appears at the middle of the scale, with 29% of confidence.
The results of the survey also provide data on distrust, according to which religious communities the majority of respondents do not trust the Montenegrin Orthodox Church (47.4%), the Ecumenical Patriarchate (26.4%), or the Serbian Orthodox Church (26.4%).
On the scale of average grades, the first place is occupied by the Serbian Orthodox Church with 3.29, the Ecumenical Patriarchate holds the middle with 2.96, while the last place is occupied by the Montenegrin Orthodox Church with a score of 2.21.

  • January 2022 : Religion-related Findings in a Survey of Public Opinion

The survey of "Public opinion of Montenegro" was conducted between 1and 11 December 2021 by Center for Democracy and Human Rights – CEDEM, Podgorica. A total of 1,022 respondents participated in the survey. The sample is representative of all adult citizens of Montenegro.

When it comes to institutions, the Serbian Orthodox Church enjoys the greatest trust (47.3%), followed by education system (47.2%), health system (45.9%) and the Delegation of the European Union in Podgorica (44.%). On the other hand, respondents have the least trust in Prosecution Service (21.8%), political parties (13%) and the Montenegrin Orthodox Church (10%).

D 15 septembre 2022    ANikola B. Šaranović

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