Montenegrins Protest Inauguration of New Serbian Church Head

CETINJE, Montenegro — Several thousand people demonstrated Sunday in Montenegro over the planned inauguration of the new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the small Balkan state.

Ethic tensions have soared over the scheduled ceremony for Metropolitan Bishop Joanikije II. The protesters in Montenegro's former capital, Cetinje, where the Sept. 5 inauguration is to take place, waved Montenegrin flags and chanted slogans against the country's government, accusing it of being pro-Serb. 

Hundreds of police officers were deployed in the city and the U.S. Embassy warned Americans to avoid the protest.

Despite calls to respect COVID-19 health measures, most protesters did not wear masks while chanting "Treason!" and accusing the government of setting the stage for the "occupation" of Montenegro by Serbia.

Montenegro declared independence from the much larger Serbia in 2006. The country is deeply split between residents who consider themselves Montenegrins and those who deny the existence of the Montenegrin nation. About 30% of the country's population of 600,000 identifies as Serb.

Joanikije II is to succeed the Serbian church's previous most senior cleric in Montenegro, Metropolian Bishop Amfilohije, who died in October after contracting coronavirus. The inauguration ceremony is set for the Cetinje Monastery, which is considered the historic cradle of Montenegrin statehood.

Protest leaders said they do not oppose the naming of a new church leader but are against his enthronement in a shrine that symbolizes Montenegro's centuries-old struggle for sovereignty and independence.

"We will not allow further desecration of Montenegrin shrines by those who don't recognize Montenegro as a state and Montenegrins as a nation," Predrag Vusurovic, a protest organizer, told the crowd.

Joanikije said in a statement that it's "a shame" that his inauguration is being challenged.

"I'm not being sent by the church in Serbia, nor by its state," he said. "I'm not a foreigner. I was born in Montenegro, I'm a citizen of this country."

The Serbian Orthodox Church, the largest religious institution in Montenegro, played a key role in a movement that helped defeat a long-ruling pro-Western government last year. The church led months of protests against alleged plans by that government to take away its property, which Montenegrin officials denied.

The former government had steered Montenegro away from Serbian as well as Russian influence. The Adriatic nation joined NATO in 2017 and is seeking European Union membership.


Boston – The presence of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the official dinner hosted by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in honor of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, following their official meeting in Ankara on Monday, May 13, remains an enigma.

Top Stories


A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.


BOSTON – The Semi-Autonomous Church of Crete, through its Holy Eparchial Synod, sent a letter on Tuesday, April 30 to Patriarch Bartholomew in response to his inquiry about his rights regarding the Patriarchal Monasteries of the island, telling him not to interfere administratively with them, according to information obtained by The National Herald.

Fifty years ago, Syrian President Hafiz al-Assad hosted U.

‘A healthy diet’ is often a complex term, because as science progresses, research becomes more abundant, information becomes complex, and it's difficult to navigate.

Many times I am troubled with the question, to what extent can a high-ranking official keep slipping without becoming unworthy of the position s/he holds? And what is the limit if this official is a high-ranking clergyman who, due to his position, is obliged to operate within stricter parameters? And to be more specific, can an Archbishop employ methods borrowed from the worst examples of politics and journalism without making himself unworthy of his position? Can he, in other words, throw out imaginary and baseless accusations to.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. [email protected]

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.