Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro
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Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro

Eastern Orthodoxy in Montenegro refers to adherents, religious communities, institutions and organizations of Eastern Orthodox Christianity in Montenegro. It is the largest Christian denomination in the country. According to the latest census of 2011, 446,858 citizens of Montenegro (72.07%) registered as Eastern Orthodox Christians. The majority of Eastern Orthodox people in Montenegro are adherents of the Serbian Orthodox Church. A minor percentage supports the noncanonical and unrecognized Montenegrin Orthodox Church, which has the status of a religious non-governmental organization (NGO) since its founding in 1993.[1][2][3]

The current Metropolitan of Montenegro and primate of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro is Joanikije II, who serves as 51st head since the establishment of the diocese in 1219. The seat of the diocese is the Cetinje Monastery, since 1484.

Meanwhile, the current Metropolitan of Montenegro of the Montenegrin Orthodox Church is Mihailo, who serves as 2nd head, since its re-establishment in 1993.

Demographics

According to the 2011 official census, of the total 446,858 Eastern Orthodox Christians in Montenegro, there are: 246,733 ethnic Montenegrins (55.22%), 175,052 of Montenegrin Serbs (39.17%) and 25,073 of other ethnic groups (5.61%)

Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro

Upper church of the Serbian Orthodox Ostrog Monastery

Four eparchies (dioceses) of the Serbian Orthodox Church cover the territory of Montenegro, two of them being entirely within its borders, and two partially:

In 2006, the Bishops' Council of the Serbian Orthodox Church decided to form a regional Bishops' Council for Montenegro, consisted of bishops whose dioceses cover the territory of Montenegro. By the same decision, Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral was appointed president of the regional Bishops' Council.[6] The 17th-century Ostrog monastery is a religious landmark of Montenegro and the most popular pilgrimage site.[7]

Independent churches and religious NGOs

In modern times, some independent groups and organizations emerged within the wider scope of Eastern Orthodoxy in Montenegro, challenging the traditional position of the canonical Serbian Orthodox Church in the country. Alternative religious movements are focused mainly on the creation of a separate and independent (autocephalous) Orthodox Church in Montenegro, receiving so far a limited support from the public.

Montenegrin Orthodox Church (1993)

In 1993, a group led by Antonije Abramovi? founded a separate religious organization, known as the Montenegrin Orthodox Church, receiving support from the Liberal Alliance of Montenegro, a minor political party that advocated the independence of Montenegro.[8] Antonije was proclaimed Metropolitan of Montenegro by his supporters, but his movement failed to gain any significant support. It remained unrecognized, and was labelled as noncanonical. In 1996, he was succeeded by Mihailo Dedei? who tried to reorganize MOC, hoping that state independence of Montenegro, achieved in 2006, would secure wider political support for his organization.[9] Those hopes were reinforced after the Moscow-Constantinople schism (2018), an event that caused great concerns among canonical Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Montenegrin Orthodox Church (2018)

In 2018, a group of priests of the Montenegrin Orthodox Church (MOC) split and formed an independent organization, claiming to represent genuine traditions of Montenegrin Orthodoxy.[10] This split was headed by Vladimir Lajovi?,[11] who became an archimandrite under the jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church of Italy (Italian: Chiesa Ortodossa d'Italia), a schism of the Orthodox Church in Italy, and another a noncanonical church body.[12] Creation of MOC-2018 presented a challenge for the Montenegrin Orthodox Church, since the emergence of the new organization received significant public attention.[13]

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