Comment by the Information and Press Department on the adoption of the law on religious rights in Montenegro
The situation which has emerged since Montenegro parliament’s adoption of the Law on the Freedom of Religion or Belief and the Legal Status of Religious Communities causes grave concern.
The atmosphere in which the law was adopted is highlighted by the fact that 17 deputies from the Democratic Front opposition alliance were detained due to clashes in the parliament hall; religious and public figures took part in mass protests which erupted in some of the cities.
The new legislation allows Montenegrin authorities to seize over 650 religious facilities belonging to the Serbian Orthodox Church with a possible handover to the schismatic unrecognised “Montenegrin Orthodox Church.” In fact, this amounts to increased administrative pressure on the Serbian Orthodox Church in order to push it out completely from Montenegro.
We are convinced that the legal rights of canonical Orthodox churches must be duly respected. Neglecting their opinions, encroaching on historical realities, attempting to usurp property and artificially creating conditions that lead to disunity among believers are fraught with grave problems.
The law adopted by Montenegro’s parliament and signed by President Milo Djukanovic not only infringes on the interests of the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral of the Serbian Orthodox Church but also make this topic an international issue. The unity and cohesion of the Orthodox world and the preservation of its centuries-old traditions are a guarantee of the normal development of society.