Difference between revisions of "Montenegrin Orthodox Church"
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The Montenegrin Orthodox Church (MOC; in Montenegrin / Serbian: Crnogorska Pravoslavna Crkva) is a jurisdiction in Montenegro which declares itself to be autocephalous. It separated from the Church of Serbia. Its self-proclaimed autocephaly is not officially recognized by other Orthodox churches. Metropolitan Mihailo, MOC's leader, was a priest of the Orthodox Church of Constantinople in Italy, in 1997 he was excommunicated by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople from the Eastern Orthodox Church. MOC's leader is anathemized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and banished from the Orthodoxy
The Montenegrin Orthodox Church is registered as a non-governmental organization at the Montenegrin Ministry of the Interior in 1997. It claims to be the sole legitimate Eastern Orthodox Church in Montenegro, but it is unrecognized internationally by canonical Orthodox churches.
MOC supporters also present an excerpt from the 1911 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica as one of the proofs of legitimacy: "The Montenegrin Church is an autocephalous branch of the Eastern Orthodox communion. In 1894 it formally vindicated its independence against the claims of the Russian synod". However the remainder of the article refer to Montenegro as a Serb state, which contradicts to the Church's basic beliefs. The Catalogue of Ecumenical Patriarchate (April 1855) , Athens Sintagma, letter of Ecumenica Patriarch Grigorius to St. Petar I Petrovic Njegos (dated 29th January 1798) , and against the claims of other documents. Claims are (in supporters of MOC) that MOC was independent and autocephalous until Serbian and Yugoslav king Alexander I of Yugoslavia put MOC, by the decree of 17th (30th) June 1920, under Serbian Orthodox Church 's rule  . However, although initially voicing his opposition, the dethroned King Nicholas I Petrovic-Njegos in late 1920 also recognized the uniting of the Church with the SOC, for the benefit of "all the Serbian people".
It must be noted that the current Montenegrin Orthodox Church is nothing in character or aims similar to the old Church of Montenegro, wich was part of Church of Serbia. While the latter based itself upon successorship to the abolished Serbian Orthodox Church by Ottoman decree in 1766, with its Metropolitans asserting the title "Exarch of the Serb Throne" which they hold up to today, who were also great proponents of the reunification of the SOC which has finally occurred in 1920 as well as the national liberation and unification of Serbs based on medieval Serbian heritage, the MOC presents itself as a church of just Montenegro, is a supporter of the Montenegrin nation and a proponent for a separate Montenegrin language, trying to gather not only Orthodox, but all of Montenegro's faithful as well.
Metropolitan Antonije (Abramović) (initially vehemently supported by the biggest pro-independence party in Montenegro at the time - Liberal Alliance of Montenegro (LSCG)) was the first leader of the church in 1993. He was later replaced by Metropolitan Mihailo (Dedeić), anathemized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and banished from the Orthodoxy. .
On January 11, 2007, MOC reconstituted its Holy Synod and proclaimed its first decree in which it reconfirms its autocephalous status. The Holy Synod is constituted by archpriests of MOC, led by Metropolitan Mihailo, who was excommunicated by the Ecumenical Patriarch.
The Holy Synod divided Montenegro in five eparchies:
- Eparchy of Cetinje
- Eparchy of Duklja
- Eparchy of Primorje
- Eparchy of Ostrog
- Eparchy of Berane