Montenegrin Orthodox Church

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Montenegrin Orthodox Church emblem

The Montenegrin Orthodox Church ( Montenegrin Црногорска православна црква Crnogorska pravoslavna crkva ) is, according to its own perspective, an autocephalous Orthodox church in the territory of Montenegro . Their autocephaly is not recognized by the other Orthodox churches , and their canonicality is therefore controversial.

Two competing Orthodox churches in Montenegro

The existence of the Montenegrin Orthodox Church refers to the Archdiocese of Cetinje , which in 1920 merged with the Metropolis of Belgrade , the Metropolis of Sremski Karlovci , the Metropolis of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Metropolis of Dalmatia to form the Serbian Orthodox Church and today exists as an archbishopric within the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Thus there are two Orthodox churches in Montenegro:

  • the Archdiocese of Montenegro recognized by the other Orthodox churches and the coastal countries within the Serbian Orthodox Church, which owns most of the church buildings and monasteries in Montenegro
  • the independent Montenegrin Orthodox Church, founded in 1993 and not recognized by the other Orthodox Churches.

Both claim to be the legitimate Orthodox Church for Montenegro.

According to the supporters of the independent Montenegrin Orthodox Church, the independent Archdiocese of Cetinje was annexed by the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1920. In 1993, with the foundation of this church, the Archdiocese of Cetinje was renewed.

In the understanding of the Serbian Orthodox Church, which is also shared by the other Orthodox churches, the independent Montenegrin Orthodox Church is a political instrument of the supporters of the state independence of Montenegro, which was realized in 2006.


In the Middle Ages and in the Ottoman Empire

An orthodox church for today's Montenegro was founded as the diocese and eparchy Zeta within the archbishopric of Serbia in 1219 by Sava of Serbia . In the Orthodox Church, regional churches consist of local churches, the eparchies, which in turn are independent within their area of ​​responsibility. In 1346, the Serbian Tsar Stefan Dušan raised the diocese of Zeta to the rank of metropolitan, and the Serbian archbishopric became a patriarchate .

With the advance of the Ottomans into Southeast Europe and the conquest of Serbia in 1459, the local ruling family of the Crnojević was able to establish a semi-independent rule around Cetinje . This laid the foundation for what would later become Montenegro. With the conquest of Serbia by the Ottomans, the independence of the Serbian patriarchate also expired and it became part of the Archdiocese of Ohrid . However, the metropolitan area of ​​Zeta was able to maintain its autonomy, which was recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople. In 1483 the Metropolitan of Zeta moved his seat from the then Venetian Bar to Cetinje. Romilo I called himself Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Coast for the first time in 1504 (next to the title of Zeta).

In 1557, with the permission of the Ottomans, the Serbian patriarchate was renewed, the metropolis of Zeta, which at that time increasingly referred to itself as the Metropolis of Montenegro or the Metropolis of Cetinje, became part of the Serbian patriarchate. In 1766, the Serbian patriarchate was abolished a second time by the Ottomans and reincorporated into the Archdiocese of Ohrid. The eparchies of the Serbian Patriarchate, which were outside the Ottoman dominion, resisted this regulation. This created the independent metropolis of Sremski Karlovci in what was then Hungary and that of Cetinje in Montenegro. Both metropolises claimed to be the rightful successors to the Serbian Patriarchate, and both metropolises were granted autocephaly by the Ecumenical Patriarchs of Constantinople and Moscow .

Montenegro itself was able to abandon Ottoman rule at the end of the 17th century under the leadership of the Metropolitans of Cetinje. Ottoman rule was never strongly present in the barren mountains around Cetinje, and new political conditions made possible de facto independence for Montenegro, which formally remained part of the Ottoman Empire. A prince-bishopric was created under the Petrović-Njegoš , who, as metropolitans of Montenegro, directed both the religious and secular affairs of the country until the 19th century. In 1851 the theocracy in Montenegro was abolished and the country became a secular principality . The metropolitan area of ​​Cetinje remained the state church.

In independent Montenegro 1878–1918

In 1878, Montenegro was granted sovereignty under international law at the Berlin Congress . In 1910 it was proclaimed a kingdom under Nikola I. The metropolis of Cetinje was raised to the rank of archbishopric and its autocephaly was confirmed by the Orthodox world church. In the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913, Montenegro expanded its national territory; the archbishopric of Cetinje received two new bishoprics. King Nikola I pursued a policy of unification of all Serbian countries, but at the same time wanted to preserve the independence of Montenegro. Although he was Greater Serbian, he rejected a domination of Belgrade. In this sense, he claimed the Serbian patriarchate for the Archdiocese of Cetinje, since from 1912 the Bishopric Peć was also under the jurisdiction of Cetinje , which had been the seat of the Serbian Patriarchate until 1766.

In Yugoslavia

In 1918, when Montenegro and Serbia were unified in the SHS state (later Yugoslavia), the Montenegrin Church was also integrated into the Serbian Orthodox Church. According to some opinions, the union was not entirely voluntary. According to the supporters of independence for the Montenegrin Orthodox Church, the archbishop of Cetinje is said to have been a supporter of the dethroned Montenegrin dynasty and to have held little of the union (although he claims to the patriarchal throne of Peć, the former seat of the Serbian Orthodoxy , had asked). Archbishop Mitrofan Ban is said to have been forced, under threat of violence, to convene an extraordinary meeting of the Holy Synod of the Montenegrin Church, which approved the union with the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The Holy Synod of Constantinople decreed on March 19, 1920 that the autocephalous churches of Serbia, Montenegro, Karlovac and two Dalmatian dioceses should be reunited to form the unified Serbian Church . On September 28, 1920, the Metropolitan of Belgrade, Dimitrije Pavlović , was raised to the rank of first Patriarch of the Unified Serbian Church.


After the end of communism in Yugoslavia , efforts were soon made in Montenegro to break ties with Serbian orthodoxy and to rebuild its own church. As with the question of state independence, the Montenegrins were and are divided on this ecclesiastical issue. One part wants to stay in the Serbian Church, the other started to revive the Montenegrin autocephaly. As a result of a broad movement that thousands of Montenegrins joined, the Montenegrin Orthodox Church was restored in 1993. Its first head was the Metropolitan Antonjie Abramović .

Cetinje, the former capital of Montenegro, currently houses two church centers; The Serbian Orthodox Metropolitan Amfilohije Radović resides in a monastery ; The representatives of the Montenegrin Orthodox Church, headed by Metropolitan Mihailo Dedeić, have stayed in the chapel of St. Petar of Cetinje , because so far they have not been able to get a large church back from the Serbs. In 1998 Mihailo Dedeić was ordained a metropolitan by the Bulgarian counter-patriarch Pimen . This also called into question the responsibility of the Serbian Orthodox Church for Montenegro.

The independent Montenegrin Orthodox Church, like the Archdiocese of Montenegro, regards itself within the Serbian Orthodox Church as the legitimate Orthodox Church for the state of Montenegro. The Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople and the Russian Patriarch Alexej II , on the other hand, support the Serbian position that the Montenegrin Orthodox Church is schismatic . Because of the resistance of the Serbian Orthodoxy, the Montenegrin Ministry of the Interior did not officially register the rebuilt church as a state-recognized religious community until January 6, 2000.


The independent Montenegrin Orthodox Church is currently headed by Archbishop Mihailo, born as Miraš Dedeić in Bosnia-Herzegovina, once a priest of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and excommunicated from him for church misconduct. There are no clear figures about their believers and priests.

The general position in the world Orthodox Church is that the independent Montenegrin Orthodox Church is politically supported by the proponents of Montenegrin statehood, and it is neither recognized as a church nor as a religious community. In addition, the priesthood is composed of members who have previously been excommunicated or who have been removed from their priesthood. Despite all this, the Montenegrin government under Milo Đukanović registered the independent Montenegrin Orthodox Church as a state-recognized religious community and expropriated 50 of the total 650 Orthodox churches and monasteries of the Serbian Orthodox Church and added them to the Montenegrin Orthodox Church.

Finance Minister Igor Lukšić has returned 16 objects to the Serbian Orthodox Church.

In June 2018, part of the clergy split off and joined the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kiev Patriarchate .

Web links


  • Glasnik. Službeni list Srpske pravoslavne crkve Vol. 1, 1920, No. 8, October 29, 1920, ISSN  0017-0925 , p. 116, ( therein the decree on the union of the two churches).
  • Danilo Radojević: Iz povijesti hrišćanskih crkava u Crnoj Gori. Crkveno-povijesne rasprave . CDNK, Podgorica 2000, ( Biblioteka Savremene studije ).
  • Valtazar Bogišić, among others: Pravni običaji u Crnoj Gori, Hercegovini i Sjevernoj Albaniji. anketa iz 1873 g . Crnogorska akademija nauka i umjetnosti, Odjeljenje društvenih nauka, Titograd 1984, ( Istorijski izvori 2, Posebne zbirke 2).

Individual evidence