Podgorica: Patriarch Porfirije and Prime Minister Abazović signed the Basic Agreement

Published On: 03/08/2022

Today, 3 August 2022, His Holiness Serbian Patriarch kyr Porfirije and Prime Minister of Montenegro Dritan Abazović signed the Basic Agreement between the Serbian Orthodox Church and Montenegro in Podgorica.

The signing of the Basic Agreement was attended by the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church: His Eminence Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral kyr Joanikije and the Their Graces Bishops: Vasilije of Srem and Fotije of Zvornik–Tuzla, then Bishops whose canonical jurisdiction encompasses the territory of Montenegro, Their Graces: Atanasije of Mileševa, Metodije of Budimlje–Nikšić and Dimitrije of Zahumlje–Herzegovina; as well as the Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod of Bishops Archimandrite Nektarije, Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Vladimir Joković and Ministers: of human and minority rights Mr. Fatmir Đeka, of health Mr. Dragoslav Šćekić, and of finance Mr. Aleksandar Damjanović.

After the signing of the Basic Agreement, His Holiness Serbian Patriarch kyr Porfirije said:

– Dear Mr. President of the Government of Montenegro, Mr. Deputy Prime Minister, gentlemen Ministers in the Government of Montenegro, Brethren Hierarchs, Your Eminence and Your Graces,

I rejoiced today, above all, at our friendly and fraternal meeting here in the capital of Montenegro, in the capital of a beautiful God-shaped country, shaped by God’s love so that it can always be, as it has been throughout the centuries, a home for all people coming from any part of the world.

Today I am primarily grateful to God, grateful to you, Mr. Prime Minister, for all the efforts you have made together with your colleagues to end the vicissitudes that have been going on since 2012 in a festive way today, and to sign the Basic Agreement between the state of Montenegro and the Serbian Orthodox Church.

I also greet all citizens, regardless of how they pray to God or do not pray to God, whatever nation they belong to. We have so much in common over the centuries that it is truly a luxury to spend time on what differentiates us and to insist on and deepen differences between us. Centuries have shown that we truly need each other, that we cannot do without each other, and that we are actually capable of doing everything when we are together and when in our hearts there is room for the other.

I am grateful, therefore, that you primarily had human sensitivity for what I am talking about, for the fact that we are directed towards each other, that we need each other. In addition to your associates, I am, of course, also grateful to all those who, since 2012, have added a pebble to the mosaic of the path that has brought us to this moment which belongs to everyone.

Frankly speaking, I am also grateful to those who did not want us to reach this moment, for they, in their own way, perhaps unconsciously, because God can act through anyone, contributed to us realizing how important it is to understand each other in a better and more profound way, and to understand how important it is to fight for each other, that only together we can make huge, kilometers-long steps in just a short period of time.

On this occasion, I must express, to say the least, gratitude and a prayerful feeling of love and gratitude towards the late Metropolitan Amfilohije of blessed memory, who – regardless of the fact that he encountered various obstacles and those who wanted to challenge his feeling for the Gospel in various ways, his sense of all people’s need for salvation and his sense of the fact that man is not only a biological and historical being, but a being that was created for eternity – actually did much more than all of us from the Church who came here. I am sure that today he is also rejoicing with us in heaven and I am sure that his prayers from there contributed to us reaching this act simply, quickly and easily – at least since you are in the position of the President of the Government, and also since I am in this position.

It didn’t take many words between us to understand that this kind of agreement is something that both the state of Montenegro and the Serbian Orthodox Church need. Why? Because we Serbs, whatever country we live in or we have ecclesial jurisdiction, it goes without saying that we want to respect and obey the constitution and laws of that country. Therefore, I think it is very important that you, respecting the Constitution and laws of Montenegro, and we, respecting the Constitution and laws of Montenegro, did not want anything more than any citizen of Montenegro, nor did we have ambitions to achieve anything more than any other religious community, but of course, it is logical and normal, that it was not possible for us to accept anything less than that. What stands for our Church and for all believers stands also for all religious communities here in Montenegro. Wherever we are as a Church, if there are problems when it comes to other religious communities, we tend to always fight side by side for the rights of that religious community so that those rights are respected and applied to the same extent as the rights which we expect for ourselves, but also doing our best to live according to those rights. Of course, rights are not the goal per se.

From our aspect as religious communities, the law is only a space and possibility to help and contribute on the basis of the Gospel, on the system of values ​​that we draw from the Gospel, to building up not only a democratic society, but above all a human society with the aim that all people feel and understand each other as brothers, as members of that in which we are all one, and that is first of all that we are parts, members of the human race, and then the rest comes after that.

Once again I express gratitude to you and your colleagues for the effort and determination. Thank you to all citizens of Montenegro! They should also rejoice, regardless of how much someone will show it or not. May the Lord bless you and your relatives with good health, may He grant peace to you and all the people living in Montenegro and in the whole world, for that is something that everyone needs today. May the blessing of God descend upon Montenegro, upon all the people who live there, but also on all those who come to this country.