In Montenegro, protests have been ongoing for three months now to protest against the new Freedom of Religion Act, passed at the end of 2019, which the Serbian Orthodox Church calls anti-discrimination and discriminatory.
Protests have been taking place throughout Montenegrin cities through the processions and have been quiet so far, although a growing number of people are joining in.
As the media reported on Sunday evening, including live broadcasts through social networks, a record number of people was gathered. Today, more footage is circulating on social networks to witness the plethora of participants.
All of them are seeking the withdrawal of the law, which is interpreted as primarily a blow to the property of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro, that is, an attempt by the state to put this church under control.
Bishop Theodosius: “In Love With Everyone”
“The most beautiful thing that can be heard today in Montenegro and beyond the borders of Montenegro is the slogan – We do not give up on our sanctities,” Bishop Theodosius of Raska-Prizren said in Bijelo Polje.
He, joined by the Bishop of Budimansko-Niksic, Joanikije, led the processions in this city, which he has been regularly doing throughout the cities of Montenegro.
The bishop emphasized the importance of caring for people, being directed toward one another, and for Christians to “love, have compassion and forgive.”
He recalled the importance of keeping God’s commandment of love, saying that they would be judged at the end of their lives – whether they kept the commandment of love.
He also instructed the processions participants to persevere and to be victorious over their “enemies” by “fasting, praying, and repenting.”
“Only if we do this, if we go the way of God, the way of St. Save, Sv. Vasily, Peter of Cetinje and all the saints, then we will truly be what we have always been – in love with everyone, “said the Bishop of Raska and Prizren to the assembled people.
Andrej Decanac: “Processions are democratic and open”
In Bar, in front of the Cathedral of St. John Vladimir, father Andrej Decanac spoke to the people. Stating that Bishop Theodosius felt the essence of the struggle of the Montenegrin people from the beginning, he reminded everyone that the Bishop often comes to Montenegro with monasticism, and that monks and nuns in Kosovo and Metohija monasteries regularly pray for Montenegro.
“There is a lot to talk about the connections between Decani and Montenegro. We also know the famous words from the song “There,” for King Nikola’s recommendation. The Decani had abbots from Montenegro, from Pashtrovic. Today, in Decani, we still have monks who are originally from Montenegro and all of us there, I assure you, we pray as one for you and for your struggle here, to preserve love and dignity, “said Father Andrej.
“When it was most difficult for us, Archbishop Amfilohije came first to visit us.Back in 1998, we were barricaded, in constant uncertainty as to what might happen to us, and the first devotee we saw after many months was precisely Metropolitan Amfilohije, who thus testified his faith, by which man is delivered into the hands of God completely. Fortunately, nothing bad happened then and even though it could, God did not allow it. He made us terribly happy with his visit at the time. “
He recalled the arrival of other Montenegrin bishops, believers who regularly come from this country and worship the Metohija saints. That has not changed eve to this date, he said.
Father Andrew also stressed the importance of preserving Christian dignity, but only with peace, non-violence and, above all, love for one’s neighbor and those who do not participate in the protests.
What is Montenegrin, what is a Serb without Pec Patriarchate, Decani but also without Ostrog, Arseni Sremac and other Montenegrin shrines, pointed out Father Andrej.
One can endure anything, he said, explaining that Christians are called to suffering, stressing that they are called to love and understanding for those who do not think like them.
But there is one limit and that limit is our Christian dignity and our faith, he said.
Continue as you began, remain dignified, peaceful and resolute, and we will defend the sainctities.
Processions is said to be “light to the world” and, by modern vocabulary, interpreted as “democratic”:
“Here at this gathering, all those big words that are being poured on us from the media – democracy, a just open society are really getting their meaning. Those who use them to belittle us use those words in a completely wrong context freed from any meaning. It can be seen here that it is a democratic lithium, an open lithium. There is room for everyone here and thank God it is so. “
Abbot Sava: “Our holy landmarks in the dark”
In Podgorica, different words, but the messageis the same.
“Sainctities cannot and should not separate. They have always been, and must be, a place of meeting, of reconciliation, not only for us Christians, but also for those who believe in God differently,“ said the Abbot of Visoki Decani, Archimandrite Sava Janjic.
What are holy things to us? Is it just buildings, works of art, cultural heritage? Not! Much more than that our brothers and sisters. The shrines are our beacons in this world that shine as landmarks in the dark and point us to the path of God, the path of salvation. They tell us who we were, what we are and what we should be. A housekeeper cannot be a tenant in his house.
He called upon the Montenegrin leadership to consider, conscientiously and reasonably, the newly created situation, and to find a path that would preserve the rule of law and law and strengthen peace together with the bishops and the people.
” For never again should a brother to brother and neighbor to neighbor rise in rage. We can and should do it as soon as possible, and that alone will be a win for all of us, “he said.