Thousands of Montenegrin Serbs continued with peaceful protests against the new Law on Religious Communities in the coastal republic which, they said, endangered their and the rights of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC), the Beta news agency reported late on Thursday.
Since the Montenegrin Parliament has passed the law, SPC churches and monasteries have been packed with people showing disagreement and demanding that the authorities reconsider the act and take into account the suggestions made by SPC.
Protest walks were held in the capital Podgorica, in northern Montenegro where the majority of the population considered themselves as Serbs, but also in the coastal town of Herceg Novi.
SPC and Montenegrin Serbs say the new law would enable the state to take over their holy places, describing the law as “theft.”
Montenegrin Orthodox Church is not autocephalous, and some media in Serbia quoted Bartholomew I, the current Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch, as saying he would never recognise the independence of the Montenegrin Orthodox Church.
Bartholomew is the primus inter pares in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and considered a spiritual leader of some 300 million people worldwide.
Official Belgrade shares SPC worries about the consequences of the new religious law, and there were unofficial reports that Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic would visit northern Montenegro on January 6, when Orthodox Serbs celebrate the Christmas Eve, “to again show the unity of the Serb people.”
Podgorica said late on Thursday it did not have any official confirmation about Vucic’s visit and refused to comment media reports.