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Balkans: Montenegrin law of religious freedoms


Mladen

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So, the youngest NATO member has what Harry Potter would call "security problem" due to the new law of religious freedoms. And as ludicrous as it sounds, especially for a country that aims to become part of democratic world, it's all about nationalization of Orthodox churches and monasteries that are currently in possession of Serbian Orthodox Church.

This morning, around 3am CET, Montenegrin Parliament has voted the new law of religious freedoms in which they state that everything that was built before 1918 (the year Montenegro became part of the country that would later be called Yugoslavia) is to become a property of the state. Given not so big denominations of Catholics and Muslims in Montenegro, the government signed the agreements that they would not touch the ownership of the mosques and cathedrals. However, they were not so keen on discussing the issue with the biggest denomination in country - Serbian Orthodox Church (The Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral). The reasons are rather complex, like everything is on Balkans...

1. In the eye of Montenegrin government, the decisions of Assembly in 1918 are illegal and that Orthodox Church in Montenegro should have no ties with Serbian Orthodox Church, especially given the fact that modern leadership of Metropolitanate has been against Montenegrin independence in 2006, believing in unity of Serbia and Montenegro as sisterly states.

2. In 1993, group of Montenegrin nationalists formed so called "Montenegrin Orthodox Church" and registered it as a non-government organization. This new church has not be canonized by Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople but some parts of Montenegrin society believe that the NGO represents the heirs of old Montenegrin church that was unified with Serbian Orthodox Church in 1918. 

3. It should be noted that the revenues of some Orthodox monasteries have always been a topic of discussion in Montenegrin society as some estimates prove that The Metropolitanate of Montenegro is one of the richest eparchies of Serbian Orthodox Church. The opposition leaders in Montenegro believe that, by doing this, Montenegrin government wants to take the revenues for themselves. Needless to say, Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro has been in charge of renovating the monasteries for the past 100 years.

What happened in Montenegro last night was a total anarchy. In Parliament, government representatives denied all amendments made by opposition and Metropolitanate. People gathered in every major city blocking the roads and causing all-night block of Montenegrin traffic. There were some cases of police brutality as the believers were passively resisting the police. According to Metropolitanate, one bishop has been so badly that police broke his hip. Opposition leaders, unable to converse with the government representatives, made chaos in Parliament and were all detained last night. With opposition in jail, thousands of people on the streets, at 3am, 46 members of the Montenegrin parliament has voted the new law of religious freedoms. 

What comes next? No one knows. 

So, nationalization of the churches for us, Balkans, reeks of communism. Is this the usual practice in modern societies? I really want to know, as I am truly horrified by the idea that State has the power to actually take whatever they want. And lastly, what can we expect from people who believe their churches are under attack? I am really curious to see this from Western POV. Because for the sake of me, I simply don't get it.   

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Doesn't sound so unreasonable and new. Happened in a lot of states for example when countries where no longer satisfied to get ruled over by religious organizations with a seat in a foreign - possibly not so friendly - state. See catholic church in Rome or an even better example orthodox church in Moscow. 

Add to that the fact that the takeover of all the properties happened not that long ago, and you can see there is a good case to go back to the original situation.
 

 

 

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2 hours ago, OldGimletEye said:

My first impression is that it is a very bad entanglement of church and state. Not something you want if you aim to have a liberal society where all faiths can practice.

That's my belief. I mean, I even "liked" that Serbian Orthodox Church had more traditional stance in terms of who Montenegrin allies should be, while the government had pro-Western aspirations. That allowed at least some perception of neutrality which for former Yugoslav countries is probably the best course. This is even more important when we talk about Montenegro, a country in which Russians own 2% of territory. 

I won't lie... As a born Orthodox, I feel that my church has been violated by the state. And honestly, I wouldn't give a penny to corrupt Balkan politicians to hold, let alone cultural heritage of my people. 

7 hours ago, kiko said:

Doesn't sound so unreasonable and new. Happened in a lot of states for example when countries where no longer satisfied to get ruled over by religious organizations with a seat in a foreign - possibly not so friendly - state. See catholic church in Rome or an even better example orthodox church in Moscow. 

Yes, but in 21st century to nationalize church property? I mean, that has been done in communist Yugoslavia but Montenegro, as a NATO state, should at least pretend to uphold to certain democratic values. Montenegrin Prime Minister tried to convince Orthodox believers that nothing will change and that they have no ill will towards Serbian Orthodox Church, but overnight, they took 95% of their property. 

And worse, given the current climate in Montenegro, people won't be calmly watching this. Which is a whole new can of worms.

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The descend of the Eastern Orthodox Church into a clusterfuck of petty, nationalistic fiefdoms bears it's fruits... The problem is that these churches see themselves as the "spiritual" representation of their state and it's interests. So they rise and fall with it. I mean, what happened in Ukraine was basically a similar move.

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