Bishop Gregory spoke with Senkа Milos, a journalist at Sputnik, just before the panel at the Faculty of Philosophy, where he also spoke about the marvelous happenings in Montenegro.
“I went to the patriarch this morning. They are to go and visit the United States as has been already scheduled, and everything will end well there. But what surely will follow, is that Patriarch Irinej will also visit Montenegro, definitely. He told me so himself today,”the SPC dignitary revealed to us this exclusive news.
Lithiums in Montenegro have become even more massive after the talks between Metropolitan Amfilohije and representatives of the Montenegrin authorities over the controversial Freedom of Religion Act. There was no progress, and everyone is holding firmly to their positions…
I am quite aware of this situation because my best friends, Bishop Joaniki and Bishop Methodius, are there and I am in touch with the Metropolitan as well. More importantly, I am in touch with a lot of priests, a lot of people who are from Montenegro and live in Germany and even those who are down there. The people will not relent, nor will they give up, even if Metropolitan Amfilohije and anyone else give in. Of course, he will not betray his people either, but it will be very difficult, because we are entering a stage where more people will be on the streets, but the arrogance shown by the authorities, that is, the one man who rules the country, is amazing. And I have repeatedly said that it is very dangerous.
How do you see the solution to this crisis?
- I think this man who is ruling this country is hoping for the overwhelming support of powerful countries that obviously do not take this situation seriously yet. Most importantly, the people are very composed and very aware of what all that means, demonstrating their dissatisfaction and opposition to abducting the shrines in a God obiding Christian way, in a civilized way, and that these people are not at all pressured to go to the lithiums. Nobody invites anyone to the lithiums anymore, they are simply treated as a continuous liturgy, a continuous lithium. It is something magnificent, and if the world was not divided into East and West, North and South, it would certainly be one of the most important news in all the world media.
All Orthodox churches have supported ours in this fight, the Vatican has warned the SOC to be cautious even prior the Law on Freedom of Religion being passed. The European Commission is not satisfied with the report received from Montenegro these days. How to influence the remaining powerful countries that Djukanovic listens to to change their minds and find a way out?
It is very important for people to pay attention to what this is all about, and it seems to me that Mr. Djukanovic does not even know what the Church is. It is always both local and universal. It is the Montenegrin Church in the local sense, but it is Orthodox in the universal. In terms of geolocational facts, it is the Serbian Orthodox Church and there is no doubt that anyone can now make another one there besides the one that exists there for centuries. It is the main issue in the mind of Djukanovic and those who listen to him, because they cannot understand that this cannot be his Church, because the Church can only be divine. The church can be a church of one city, community, one area and the Church can be universal, global. This is known by all the people in this world who have ever learned anything about theology, church system, and order. He should, if he has a friend on earth, let him or her explain it to him. On the other hand, the story of whether the Church is Montenegrin, Serbian or Orthodox, Russian, is completely superfluous. The Church is or is not the Church, that is the essence.
There is an ongoing pressure to resolve the Kosovo issue as soon as possible, while at the same time Republika Srpska is under the greatest pressure ever, and this problem opens up in Montenegro, do you not think all these crises are connected?
- That is a very good question, because now I have experience from Germany, where I meet people from Knin, Zajecar, Topuski, Trebinje, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Metohija, and what unites these people is the Church. It is Saint Sava, it is their family Saint Patron, in that sense, it is really the only cohesion factor of that people. If we do not preserve this, if the Church is not unique, it will normally become much easier to talk about the fragmentation. This is how the states split up, but the Church is not and cannot, because just like I said, it is universal. As is the local.
Of the peoples from all the regions you mentioned, the people in Montenegro suffered the most in spiritual terms because of the regime in which we had long lived. Faith has returned to Montenegro, it is obvious, but there seems to be a revolt present there too…
- I think there’s a miracle going on there. In the last 150 years, only four rulers have changed in Montenegro, Nikola, then Alexander, later Josip Broz, and now Milo Djukanovic. Still, it has been a bit of a change for so many years. On the other hand, the character of these people is important, as much as the people, as Goethe says, is a servant obedient, the people are always victorious. It seems to me that now is the time for that.
Do you have a special message for the people of Montenegro?
- I have a message I already told them when I was in Podgorica, that we are all proud of them and that we look again in Montenegro as Piedmont. I think that this movement of the people will move all people in all our regions towards a realistic era and a life in which there will be no masters, no rulers, no rich people who oppress the people, but we will have a serious system in which the government does its job, is proprely segmented and no one has absolute authority, so in which all the people can live better.