His Holiness Irinej, Serbian Patriarch says it is absurd that the state of Montenegro could seize the Serbian Orthodox Church /SOC/ property in the 21st century and adds that if that happened, the Church would alarm the whole world.
The Church’s position in Montenegro today is much harder than it was during the Ottoman rule, while the Serbs’ position today is like it was during the infamous, fascist Independent State of Croatia /NDH/, he said.
Commenting on frequent harmful messages of state officials sent to the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral and announcements that the state might seize the Orthodox Church’s property, the patriarch said it was inconceivable in the present day.
“Had such things been done by the Turks or Ustashas, one could understand it, but doing it in the time of peace and freedom, when the principles of law and legality are in place, it is absolutely unacceptable, not only for Europe but for Asia too,” added Patriarch Irinej.
The patriarch pointed out that the SOC would stand in defence of the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral.
“It is our duty as a church to step up and protect the Metropolitanate and that’s what we’ll do. It has already been discussed by the Synod, we have sent a letter to the Government of Montenegro and hope they will refrain from such an unlawful act because it simply illogical. The Metropolitanate is not naïve, it has existed for hundreds of years and what belongs to the official Church cannot be seized or taken away in any way whatsoever,” emphasised the Serbian patriarch.
Patriarch Irinej is unhappy about the position of Serbs in Montenegro.
“I am not very well informed but as I’ve been told, the Serbs’ position in Montenegro is not good. Unfortunately. It is one people who are divided. All praise goes to the state of Montenegro, it was an independent state before and it is normal that every Serb accepts and supports the Montenegrin state, but it is inconceivable that the country should treat the Serbs like that,” said the patriarch.
When asked to compare the current position of Serbs in Montenegro with a period in history, the patriarch said it reminded him of the situation in Croatia during fascism.
“Unfortunately, the Serbs in Croatia do not fare any better today either. Perhaps the hostility in Montenegro is not like it was during the Ustasha rule, but hatred among the people regrettably exists. I am certain it is done by the people who don’t wish well to either Serbia or Montenegro. Divide and conquer – an old truth – they must be sticking to this principle,” asserted the Serbian patriarch.
He voiced hope that the people would be smarter than their leaders and find a way to co-exist.
Commenting on the Montenegrin government sending its soldiers to Kosovo, the Serbia’s southern province, the patriarch qualified it as nonsense.
“Montenegro sending troops to Kosovo to calm and appease the Serbs there and do who knows what else, common sense just cannot understand that. For an Orthodox country like Montenegro, a Serb land, to do such a thing, in favour of the ones who destroyed, burnt and snatched away things for hundreds of years and now even helping them commit such an unlawful act, it is simply inconceivable,” stated Patriarch Irinej.