Montenegrin Orthodox Church

Montenegrin Orthodox Church
Crnogorska pravoslavna crkva
Црногорска православна црква
Montenegrin Orthodox Church (coat of arms).png
Coat of arms of the Montenegrin Orthodox Church
PrimateMetropolitan Mihailo
Territory Montenegro
FounderMetropolitan Antonije

The Montenegrin Orthodox Church (MOC; Montenegrin: Crnogorska pravoslavna crkva (CPC)/Црногорска православна црква (ЦПЦ)) is an Orthodox Christian church active in Montenegro that is not canonically recognized by the other Eastern Orthodox Churches.

It was created in 1993 by Antonije Abramović, a defrocked monk of the Serbian Orthodox Church, who became the Metropolitan of Montenegro and the head of Montenegrin Orthodox Church, which claimed succession to the autocephalous Montenegrin Church which operated until the unification of the two countries Kingdom of Serbia and Kingdom of Montenegro, later to join the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in 1918. It has been recognized as a religious community by the government of Montenegro since 1999, and it has wide claims over the canonical jurisdiction of the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral of the Serbian Orthodox Church. According to a 2009 poll conducted by CEDEM, 29.36 percent of Montenegro's Eastern Orthodox Christians have opted for the Montenegrin Orthodox Church, while 70.64 percent have opted for or stayed with the canonical Serbian Orthodox Church.[1]

Autocephaly claims

Montenegrin Orthodox Church considers itself to be the sole legitimate representative of Orthodox Christianity in Montenegro, and also lay claim to all Orthodox Christian property in Montenegro that is currently in the possession of the Serbian Orthodox Church. From time to time, MOC members and supporters have attempted to claim some of these structures (mostly in the Cetinje municipal area).

The Montenegrin Orthodox Church was founded in Cetinje on October 31, 1993, by Antonije Abramović, allegedly with the Liberal Alliance of Montenegro (LSCG), a political party that existed at the time.[2] At the time, Montenegro was part of the federal state with Serbia called the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which was formed a year earlier following a 1992 referendum. LSCG, a party with a pro-independence agenda, is claimed to having used MOC as a tool in their quest for Montenegrin sovereignty. At that time, the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro (DPS) maintained close ties to Milošević's administration in Serbia, and therefore the initial activities of the MOC were very sporadic. By 1997, the DPS administration in Montenegro led by Milo Đukanović began to distance itself from Milošević, and MOC was registered as a civic group. By this time, LSCG had distanced itself from MOC almost completely. On January 17, 2001, MOC was officially registered as a non-governmental organization at the local department of the Montenegrin Ministry of the Interior.[3]

In the absence of any other relevant and more current piece of legislation, this registration was done by calling on the Law on the Legal Position of Religious Communities from 1977 when Montenegro was a socialist republic within SFR Yugoslavia.

In 2007, MOC attempted to expand its activities beyond the borders of Montenegro. Serbia originally refused to allow MOC to be registered as an organization,[4] as all canonical Eastern Orthodox Churches have also refused to recognize the MOC. However, on appeal, the Serbian Supreme Court ruled this position unconstitutional, overturning the refusal and paving the way for a potential permission to register.[5]

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