When the Global Order clashes with the Church: The Latest from Montenegro
Posted by Conrad Franz ● Oct 11, 2021 3:19:30 PM
Montenegro is a small Balkan country on the Adriatic Sea bordered by Serbia, Albania, Bosnia, and Croatia. It is primarily populated by Serbs and self-identified “Montenegrins” who share similar south Slavic ethnic roots. Over 2/3 of Montenegro’s population of 625,000 are members of the Serbian Orthodox Church and consider the Church a strong part of the nations identity. Montenegro peacefully gained independence from Serbia in 2006 and has slowly but surely come under the influence of pro-EU bureaucrats, local mobsters, and a “democratic” regime beholden to their interests. The President and long reigning dictator of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, threatened to bring his supporters to the enthronement of the new Metropolitan (Bishop) of Montenegro in Cetinje with the express purpose of preventing Patriarch Porfirije (Head of the Serbian Orthodox Church) from naming Bishop Joanakije (a harsh critic of the secular government) as the next head of the Church in Montenegro on September 5th. Djukanovic is now being threatened with impeachment and continues to speak out against the freedom of the Church despite failing to stop the enthronement. Djukanovic and his supporters claim the enthronement in Cetinje (the spiritual center of Montenegro) is a form of “Serb imperialism” despite the enthronements always occurring at the historic monastery. To understand the current crisis some backstory on what occurred between the Church and State last year is needed.
Throughout 2020 Montenegro was seeing the largest protests in its history with some seeing a civil war on the horizon. Milo Djukanovic and his party had been the longest ruling coalition in Europe and were about to pass a law that stripped the Serbian Orthodox Church in the country of most of its properties including monasteries, historic churches, and cathedrals. This law was heavily encouraged by the schismatic “Montenegrin Orthodox Church” which has few parishioners but is supported by the secular government and hopes to become the proprietors of the properties should they ever be seized. A defrocked priest who called Djukanovic “the greatest political mind in Europe” sits at the head of the sect and actively encourages the state to drive out the canonical Church. This directly mirrors the situation in Ukraine where the US and NATO encouraged schismatic groups and the persecution of canonical Orthodox communities (still continuing today). Montenegro joined NATO in 2017 and this has only emboldened the neo-communist government in its persecution of historic institutions. In 2020 Djukanovic was still Prime Minister and his party, the Democratic Party of Socialists, had been the only rulers of independent Montenegro. At the end of 2020 the nation was exhausted from protests and a new government was finally elected without Djukanovic at its head (though he now occupies the more ceremonial position of President). The Church law was shelved and revised, finally being signed into law in early 2021, to the joy of Orthodox Christians around the world. Between the time of the law being shelved and its revision, the beloved Metropolitan of Montenegro, Amfilohije reposed in the Lord. He was a stalwart defender of the Church who was regarded by many as a living Saint as well as a direct enemy of the anti-Christian government. During the protests the pandemic measures were used to have the Metropolitan arrested multiple times on spurious charges but he made sure he was always the first to be arrested by the authorities and not those laypeople with him. He was a staunch anti-globalist and knew that to protect his nation and people the ancient faith must be preserved within her borders. In an interview before his repose (read it in full here) the late Bishop was asked, generally, how Christians should respond to these attacks on our faith and institutions, his response was:
“We should do what I heard many years ago from a fool-for-Christ in the Smolensk Cemetery in St. Petersburg. She said to me then, “Go deeper, father, go deeper!” Orthodoxy is the modern Job. You can take everything away from it, but you can’t touch its soul. God preserves the soul. Testimony to this is all that has happened over these thousand years since the time of Prince Vladimir.”
The faithful of Montenegro are grateful that perhaps God extended the life of this strong leader for the purpose of aiding them in this struggle against the encroachments of secularism.
This now takes us to today. The new Metropolitan (Joanakije) who was elected to succeed Amfilohije was equally as stalwart in his efforts to prevent the anti-Church law from coming into being as well as having a history of calling out the hypocrisy and imperialistic actions of NATO. Because of this, Djukanovic sees his enthronement as both a personal insult as well as a future roadblock to Montenegro’s integration with the globalist system. With his announcement that he would disrupt the enthronement, one of the largest parties in the new ruling coalition has filed for the Presidents impeachment. The President of Serbia, Alexsandar Vucic, announced that he may arrive in Cetinje as well “if it will be in the interest of the Church” however he ultimately monitored the event virtually. This was mainly in response to the Interior Minister of Montenegro claiming that police “cannot guarantee” the safety of everyone at the event which ultimately came to pass. Supporters of the schismatic church together with secularist and communist protestors attempted to cause multiple confrontations with Church supporters and police. Serbs and members of the Church held many peaceful demonstrations and celebrations in support of the enthronement around the whole country despite the unfortunate reality of government persecution. Many on the outside paint this struggle as one of peaceful Montenegrins resisting religious fanaticism from an external source but that is simply a misrepresentation and an elevation of the opinion of a vocal anti-Christian minority which opposes the majority Orthodox population. This is made clear by the massive protests mobilizing over half the country at times, and the successful overthrow of Djukanovic’s thirty year party rule in the 2020 election.
Violence began early as Djukanovic supporters began amassing at the site prior to the ceremony. Patriarch Porfirije, himself newly enthroned, expressed deep sadness at the overt attempt at repression and assault on the Church but maintained that nothing will stop the enthroning of the Metropolitan. On the morning of September 5th, the Patriarch and Metropolitan Joanakije arrived in Cetinje accompanied by armed security in a helicopter. The Metropolitan was enthroned honorably despite the attempted disruptions and protests outside. He immediately addressed the Christians present and called for good will in the face of malice and artificial conflict caused by nefarious actors. The past year has been a long war for the soul of an Orthodox nation and while there have been multiple battles won, the specter of globalist imperialism has already left its mark on Montenegro and the clash between a traditional people represented by their Church and a state controlled by foreign and money interests will continue. Patriarch Porfirije is expected to visit the US and Chicagoland area sometime in 2021 or early 2022.