Patriarch Porfirije of Serbia received Andrija Mandic and Milan Knezevic, leaders of the Democratic Front coalition in the Republic of Montenegro, at the Patriarchal Residence in Belgrade.
Welcoming the guests, the Patriarch pointed out that the Church highly appreciated their personal sacrifice, as well as the sacrifice made by their relatives, together with faithful people and others who had opposed lawlessness, in the fight against the unjust and discriminatory Law on Freedom of Religion.
“The resistance of our people to the attempt to seize shrines and other church property has merged with the struggle to preserve the identity, the Orthodox faith, the Serbian national name and culture. Everything that our people in Montenegro in those months, led by the Church, did is amazing.”
The guests congratulated Patriarch Porfirije on his election as head of the Serbian Orthodox Church and expressed satisfaction that now as Patriarch, and earlier as Metropolitan of Zagreb and Ljubljana, he has always supported and expressed concern over the position of the Serbian Orthodox people in the Republic of Montenegro.
They especially thanked the Patriarch for informing the public of the important historical role that Patriarch Irinej and Metropolitan Amfilohije, along with other Serbian bishops, played in initiating the Christian people’s resistance and, in the end, peacefully resolving the conflict resulting from the imposition of an unjust law.
The Serbian primate emphasized that he saw the somewhat neglected role of his late predecessor in the peaceful and favorable resolution of the crisis as his own obligation, especially having in mind that he had long talks with Patriarch Irinej about the position of the Serbian Orthodox Church and Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija.
So, he said that he shared the position which the Church has already established through the Assembly and the Synod on this issue.
Leaders of the Democratic Front informed the Patriarch about the determination of the coalition they represent to take further political and legislative activities after satisfactory amendments to the Law on Freedom of Religion, which will, in accordance with European and good practice in Serbia, determine the importance and role of the Serbian Orthodox Church in modern Montenegrin society, not neglecting the equal position of other traditional Churches and religious communities.
The interlocutors agreed that free expression at the upcoming census in the Republic of Montenegro is of the most vital importance for both the Serbian Orthodox Church and the state, expressing confidence that this important event, for the first time since World War II, will take place in a democratic atmosphere.
Source: Serbian Orthodox Church