Montenegro’s Attack on Church Property Will Create Lawless Society

The bishop reacted after the government of Montenegro said it wanted to pass a law that will declare all ancient property belonging to the Serbian Orthodox Church built before 1918 as the state property, without offering any valid reason for this in the public interest, or eminent domain (defence, energy, infrastructure) or any compensation. (Allow me to refer to the Serbian Orthodox Church, regardless of the reader's creed or personal convictions as "the Church" throughout this article.)

The reason for this radical move, legislators explain, is that this is cultural heritage was built by the Montenegrin people.

The Church in Montenegro owns around 700 churches and other holy places that were built over a range of eras from the 4th century AD onwards. A bishop from the area of present-day Montenegro took part in the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, where the Nicaean Creed, relevant to all Christians, was born.

The ancient Church in present-day Montenegro has two institutions that date back to it directly: the Roman Catholic Church and the Serbian Orthodox Church. These two institutions, regardless of their sometimes tense relations, have always respected each other's property; archaeological evidence proves this.

Church property has been guaranteed protection by law since the Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan in 313 AD. This guarantee was since respected by the Byzantines, the early Slavic settlers, medieval Serbian rulers, the Ottoman Empire, the Venetian Republic, the French Empire under Napoleon, the Principality of Montenegro and then the Kingdom of Yugoslavia - all of which ruled here.

The first challenge to the Church's property rights came from the communist regime that took power in Yugoslavia after World War II. But...

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