The Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral published on its web site the response of Metropolitan Amfilohije to the letter that Montenegrin Prime Minister, Duško Marković, sent him on 28 January, in which he invites him to a dialogue on the Law on Freedom of Religion. Metropolitan Amfilohije says he is willing to meet with Marković.
Amfilohije confirmed the acceptance the Marković’s invitation and expressed his opinion regarding the specific assertions in the letter.
“You claim that adoption of the Law on Freedom of Religion will not cause divisions among the Orthodox people in Montenegro, and that’s so contrary to reality. Starting from 27 December 2019 to this day, a great number of citizens, and not only orthodox citizens, have been opposing the spirit and notes of the new Law so patiently, peacefully and with dignity. We can clearly witness that the Law deepened the old and created new divisions among brothers and neighbours. If you take into account the statement made by the president of your party, that Orthodox religious processions are “a movement of lunatics”, then it’s clear how this Law painfully divided and tore Montenegro apart. We disagree with your claim that the ‘enactment has been harmonized with the contemporary European standards and received a positive opinion from the Venice Commission’. The objective of the Law claims otherwise”, the Metropolitan says.
By that, Metropolitan goes on, he means provisions negating and eliminating the many century-long historical continuities of legal subjectivity and property rights of the Church in the first place, as well as other religious communities.
“Therefore, we can’t agree with your statement that the “law eliminates cultural, religious and civilizational limitation we’ve found”. It is as clear as a day that the Orthodox Church is endangered and shaken by means of the new law. We have been expecting your call for dialogue on deep and essential problems caused by this law and finding solutions for it. We have to remind you that our call for public and institutional dialogue has always been open, but you, unfortunately, ignored it”, Amfilohije recalled.
He criticized Marković that he is “calling on us to start a dialogue in order to conclude a basic agreement on the regulation of mutual relations, expressing your preparedness to ‘consider once again, together, the best possible solutions for the application of articles 62, 63 and 64’”.
“We are sorry to say this, but you obviously refuse to see that the existing law and the non-existing agreement, is the cause of the current social problems. However, aware of the historical importance of the throne of Saint Peter Cetinjski and the responsibility we assumed from our predecessors, and since we are worried for the harmony, peace and unity of the Orthodox people in Montenegro, respecting the Constitution of Montenegro, we agree to meet with you and hope that you are willing to finally start an essential and humane conversation, aimed at eliminating the law and all the discriminatory provisions it contains. If you are ready and willing to discuss the Law and its elimination, we are glad to inform you that in that case, bishop Joanikije and Atanasije and Dimitrije would be present during the talks. We expect you to suggest the term of the meeting”, Metropolitan Amfilohije concludes./ibna