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"T.V. Weber & Alida Weber" 

URGENT! Montenegro churches desecrated!

July 13, 2000

We have received an urgent appeal from Amphilochios, the Metropolitan
Archbishop of Montenegro, concerning attacks on Church property there. His
Grace's letter is attached to these introductory notes by the Director of
The Rockford Institute, Dr. Thomas Fleming:

I have met the Metropolitan several times both in Montenegro and in the
United States and formed a very favorable impression of a man who is at
once a brilliant theologian and a devoted servant of Christ. 
In reading this appeal, please keep in mind several important points.

1. The Metropolitanate is the only legal, historical and canonical
"Orthodox Church" in Montenegro.  There is no rival group with any legal or
historical claim.

2. Montenegrins are Serbs as much as people in Shropshire are English. 
Because the Metropolitanate of Montenegro is an integral part of the
Serbian Orthodox Church, it is now at the receiving end of a persecution
orchestrated for purely political purposes by the Djukanovic "pro-Western"
government in its tug of war with the government in Belgrade. 

3. The so-called "Montenegrin Orthodox Church" is a purely political
construct, not an authentic church or any kind of genuinely religious
organization. It is led by a defrocked monk who has been excommunicated and
anathemized by the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople (under whose
jurisdiction he used to be). It has no canonically recognized clergy and
most of its "faithful" are political activists who support Montenegro's
separation from Yugoslavia.  Most of them are either former communists or
even traditional non-Christians (Muslims and Albanians);

4. The kind of persecution to which the Metropolitanate is now subjected
would be front-page news if the victim was any OTHER group but Serbian
Orthodox Christians.  Imagine what would happen if a group of homosexual
activists, atheists, and Buddhists started taking over Catholic churches in
Illinois or Episcopalian parishes in Virginia.  When whole parishes
have--by overwhelming majorities--tried to secede from the Episcopal
Church--American courts have always upheld the bishops in reasserting
ownership and control over dissident parishes.

5. The anti-Orthodox bigotry is attested to by the indifference (and even
hostility) of Western NGOs, journalists, and other representatives within
Montenegro, and by international bodies who have so far failed to respond
to these outrages. 
6. The Metropolitanate has been in the forefront of the struggle for
democratization of Yugoslavia; it has repeatedly condemned Milosevic, and
it has quietly and disretely (as befits the Church) supported Djukanovic in
elections and in his previous showdowns with the Milosevic government. 
Djukanovic's cynical betrayal of his Orthodox supporters is all the more
foolish in that it divides the Montenegrin people at a critical time.

7. Canon law apart, the seizure of the church's property is also a gross
violation of the rule of law and of the rights of private property   In
tolerating this misbehavior on the part of the Djukanovic establishment,
the United States and its allies will only convince the Serbs in Montenegro
that they have no choice but to resist separation by force.  Montenegrin
Serbs have no love for Milosevic, but in spite of their hatred for him and
his regime, they will refuse to be bullied into a fake independence that
divides them from their cousins to the East.  Of all the mistakes made by
American administrations in the Balkans--and they are too numerous to
count, much less mention--an intrusion into Montengro (accompanied by the
persecution of the Orthodox church in Montenegro) would be the most
disastrous Balkans blunder of the century.

In the days to come we hope to rally faithful Christians and all those who
uphold the rule of law and the right of private property in support of the
Metropolitanate of Montenegro.  Their struggle is the struggle of all
people who revere the name of Christ and respect property.
                * * *
Statement by the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral

Monday 10th of July, 2000

With much regret and grave concern we are informing the public that a group
of people falsely presenting themselves as Orthodox clergy, together with
their followers, among whom were well known atheists and "old style" church
persecutors, on Sunday 9th July illegally broke into and desecrated a
church owned by the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral
in Njegusi, thus trampling under foot elementary religious, human and
property rights.

Our Metropolitanate informed in advance the President of Montenegro Mr.
Djukanovic, President of the Montenegrin Government Mr. Vujanovic,
President of the Montenegrin parliament Mr. Marovic and Minister of the
Police Mr. Maras of the previously announced and planed intention to break
into this church, asking them to protect our property and legally
guaranteed rights of the Orthodox church. Since we have been assured at the
highest level that Montenegrin police would fulfill their lawful duty, and
prevent the illegal breaking into the church, as well as the endangering
and misuse of the church property, the official representatives and the
orthodox faithful of our Metropolitanate decided to abandon the plan to
personally protect their property, with a view to avoiding the conflict and
its possible tragic consequences.

Unfortunately, Montenegrin police not only failed entirely to fulfill their
legal duty, but also have openly helped the hooligans and consciously let
lawlessness unleash. One of the policemen personally took part in what
appeared to be the lynching of an independent, internationally known
freelance photographer, Mr. Ciric, destroying the film in his camera, while
Mr. Ciric was being severely beaten up by the delinquents and his equipment
smashed to pieces. Complicity of a similar kind was also obvious a couple
of days earlier when one of the thugs threatened hierodeacon Jefrem
Dabanovic that he will "cut his head off with a shovel", and the policeman
present at the scene (Mr. Milasevic) added: "with a sword, why use the

Taking into account yesterday's and other earlier incidents we see that
some people display unprecedented, poisonous and chauvinist hatred, in the
full presence of the "official keepers of the law and order", towards
people who declare themselves as members of the Serbian nation in
particular. This type of hypocritical behavior with regards to the Orthodox
Metropolitanate by the official governmental institutions, which was
recently repeated several times only confirms that this government's
institutions are directly or indirectly becoming an accomplice in the job
of stamping on and suppressing the elementary religious and human rights
and endangering, plundering and stealing  the property of the
Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral. Only in lawless countries,
without independent courts of law, it is possible that a group of people,
who falsely proclaim themselves to be something that they are not, without
any court rulings or decisions, can be allowed to persistently try to
extort and unduly claim property which legally belongs to someone else.

Recent developments and the attitude of the regime towards the
Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral, more and more looks as the
continuation of the repression which started during the World War II and
after, when Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral Joanikije was
killed (1945) with over a hundred orthodox priests, the church property
confiscated and never returned back, innocent Metropolitan of Montenegro
Arsenije imprisoned (1954), the only public demonstrations in this period
held in front of Cetinje Monastery (organized by the regime) against the
honorable Metropolitan Danilo (1971) just because he opposed the shameful
destruction of the Church dedicated to St. Petar of Cetinje at the top of
Lovcen mountain. In the recent years as we expected the true democratic
changes and the emergence of the new type of state ruled by law modeled on
the modern European democratic states, we have to express our grave
concerns with regards to the fact that Montenegro is on the brink of
becoming a lawless country, which the above mentioned incidents and other
similar ones sadly confirm. The time of "transition" and "privatization" is
being used in an opportunistic way and we are witnessing the " mushroom
style", overnight sprouting of various businessmen and millionaires
thriving on the misery of 'simple folks'.

Through their infantile and short-sighted political maneuvering the highest
government institutions are directly warming up the old animosities and
divides and making new ones; in the name of Montenegro and its "European"
future they are either trampling under foot or sidetracking the
state-forming, national and spiritual heritage embodied in the "saints-
bearing" Petrovic family and ages long efforts and longings of Montenegrins
who are now finding themselves in the position to "sell their faith for a 
single dinner, and their face and their souls for 'euros' ".

 Having in mind all of these and our responsibility for the destiny of
Montenegro, the Orthodox Church and our people, we feel that it is our duty
to appeal to domestic and international public, as well as the
international institutions for the protection of human rights, to help us
protect the endangered elementary religious, human and property rights of
the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral.

At the same time we are appealing to the clergy, monastics and the faithful
of our Metropolitanate and our Church to step up their prayers for peace,
love and brotherly unity in our Montenegro, among our people and in our

 Still not having lost confidence that state institutions will stop the new
lawlessness, and especially the unprecedented methods and lawlessness used
against the Orthodox church, we appeal to the current regime to show in
deed and not only verbally that Montenegro really is a state ruled by law
and that it wants to be such a state. If the justice and the rights are
being trampled upon through such behavior of the regime in power towards
the Metropolitanate which is and has always been the 'spinal cord' of
Montenegro, what are we to expect in other domains of personal and public
life?! Lawlessness does not lead to Europe, and even less it leads to a
society of honorable citizens; it rather strikes one out of company of
decent men and out of history of civilized nations.

Placing our hopes in the mercy of God and the protection of St. Petar of
Cetinje and relying on God's and his (St. Petar's) truth " that in God's
Name are judgement and justice", we appeal upon all the faithful, and all
people of good disposition to strive for peace, patience and perseverance
in goodness and justice. We are also inviting all Orthodox clergy and the
faithful to gather in front of Cetinje monastery for annual celebration of
the feast of St. Peter and Paul, invoking upon all the blessing of the
Father, loving kindness of the Son, together with the communion of the Holy

His Grace Amfilohije


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