Episcopal Council Serbian Orthodox Church In North, Central And South America

St. Sava Monastery, Libertyville, Illinois, May 14, 2020

COMMUNIQUE

The Episcopal Council of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North, Central and South America expresses concern over the heightened situation in Montenegro. The joint struggle against the coronavirus and rejection of all things, which included also the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro, has shown that peace and order can reign in this country. The recent celebration of the feast of St. Vasilije at the Ostrog Monastery, when the prayerful presence of the people was permitted, was a good example of cooperation between the state and the Church.

Press release of the Holy Synod of Bishops

The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church strongly condemns the latest persecution of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro and last night's arrest of His Grace Bishop Joanikije of Budimlye-Niksic and seven priests by the Montenegrin authorities, that  under the false pretext of fighting the coronavirus, have been using the opportunity to confront the Serbian Orthodox Church and her faithful people.

The Holy Synod of Bishops calls upon the authorities in Montenegro to stop persecuting the Church and to finally start behaving in accordance with the norms of civilization, according to which free confession of faith is one of the most important rights of every individual.

At the same time, the Holy Synod of Bishops expresses great concern over the aggravation of the situation in Montenegro and hopes that the Serbian people, as before, will act peacefully and will not respond to provocations by the then authorities that obviously want a conflict so as to accuse the Orthodox Church and her believers.

It is clear to anyone who is reasonable and well-meaning that sobriety and prudence should be preserved in these moments, and above all we should pray to God that peace prevails in Montenegro and that the innocent Bishop Joanikije and his priests be released from custody immediately.

The Holy Synod of Bishops
of the Serbian Orthodox Church

Press Release of the Episcopal Council of the Orthodox Church in Montenegro

Press Release of the Episcopal Council of the Orthodox Church in Montenegro

The Day of Miraculous Saint Basil of Ostrog – His glory and mercy! – is, for centuries now, a day of а great gathering of the people in Montenegro. During the previous decades, it was a celebration day of all religious kinds in the city of Nikšić gathering a large number of believers. In particular, there has always been a public mass (perhaps like nowhere else among Christian Orthodox) prayer procession, which has been led by the clergy on the streets of Niksic since 1996. On this year's Saint Basil Day people gathered as well, but this time spontaneously: first, in the Ostrog Monastery and then in city of Niksic with the blessing of St. Basil Himself, without the invitation of the bishop and the clergy.

The Position of the Russian Orthodox Church concerning the arrest of Bishop Joanikije in Montenegro

In his comment to RIA Novosti news agency, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, expressed the position of the Russian Orthodox Church concerning the arrest in Montenegro of Bishop Joanikije of Budimlye-Niksic and seven clergymen from the cathedral in the city of Niksic. The archpastor noted:

The Russian Orthodox Church is deeply alarmed by the news of the arrest of Bishop Joanikije of Budimlye-Niksic and seven clergymen from the cathedral in Niksic by the Montenegrin police for up to three days, as well as by the incoming information about degrading treatment of Orthodox clergy.

Serbian Patriarch Irinej had a telephone conversation with President Vucic

The President of the Republic of Serbia, Mr. Aleksandar Vucic and His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irinej have had a telephone conversation. The joint statement of the two cabinets has been given below:

The President of the Republic of Serbia, Mr. Aleksandar Vucic and His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irinej have expressed great concern over the detention of His Grace Joanikije, Bishop of Budimlije and Niksic, and priests of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro, hoping that our people will act peacefully and calmly in these moments when it would be unreasonable to get involved in any riots or conflicts.

Serbian Patriarch Irinej reminds that the culmination of the hostile attitude of the state authorities of Montenegro towards the Serbian Orthodox Church has begun with the adoption of the controversial Law on Freedom of Religion and flagrant ignoring of the requirements of the Serbian Orthodox Church for having equal position with all the other churches and religious communities and for enjoying the protection of rights that our Church has been having for centuries. The fact that the adopted law has made a great displeasure of our people at the end of last year and the beginning of this year, and that the Bishop and the priests have been arrested and detained now, is the very proof that the Serbian Orthodox Church is being persecuted by the Montenegrin state authorities.

President Vucic has given full support to the Serbian Patriarch Irinej and the bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro in their efforts to resolve all the problems they face through dialogue, peacefully, with full respect for the rights and freedoms of the Serbian Orthodox Church and expressed his hope that Bishop Joanikije and the arrested priests will be released in the shortest possible time.