Metropolitan Amfilohije Radović (Serbian Cyrillic: Амфилохије Радовић; pronounced [amfilɔ̌xijɛ râːdɔv̞itɕ]; born January 7, 1938) is a Serbian Orthodox bishop, the current Metropolitan bishop of Montenegro and the Littoral, making him the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro.
|Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral|
|Church||Serbian Orthodox Church|
|Diocese||Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral|
|Installed||30 December 1990|
|Birth name||Risto Radović|
|Born||7 January 1938|
Bare Radovića, Kingdom of Yugoslavia
|Alma mater||University of Belgrade Faculty of Theology|
University of Athens
Early life, education and personal lifeEdit
Amfilohije was born Risto Radović (Ристо Радовић) in Bare Radovića in Lower Morača, Kingdom of Yugoslavia (now Montenegro). He is a descendant of vojvoda Mina Radović who participated in the unification of the Morača tribe with the Principality of Montenegro in 1820. He studied at St. Sava Seminary and graduated from the Faculty of Theology in Belgrade in 1962. During his time as a seminarian in the late 1950s, Amfilohije knew Justin Popović, a SOC cleric and admired the uncompromising position he held toward modern civilisation. He also studied classical philosophy at the University of Belgrade. In Paris, Amfilohije studied at the Russian St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute, in Rome at the Pontifical Oriental Institute and in Bern at the Old Catholic Faculty. He completed his postgraduate studies in Bern and Rome, and then moved to Greece where he lived for seven years, took monastic vows and worked as a hieromonk of the Greek Orthodox Church. In Athens, he completed his doctoral thesis on Saint Gregory Palamas and earned a doctor of theology degree.
After spending one year at Mount Athos, he moved to Paris and worked as a professor at the St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute. In 1976 he became a docent and later professor of Orthodox catechesis at the Faculty of Theology in Belgrade. He is an honorary doctor of the Moscow Theological Academy since 2006 and of the Institute of Theology of the Belarusian State University since 2008. He also speaks Greek, Russian, Italian, German and French. He is a member of the Association of Writers of Serbia and Montenegro.
Bishop of Banat (1980s) and election as Metropolitan of Montenegro (1990)Edit
Named Bishop of Banat in the 1980s, he held the title until the end of 1990. During the late 1980s, Amfilohije engaged in anti-Catholic propaganda and accused the Catholic church and Croats of endangering Serbs within Croatia. In 1990 Amfilohije became a candidate for Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC). A week before political elections in Serbia, on 6 December 1990 Serbian President Slobodan Milošević attempted to get control of the SOC through supporting his preferred candidates such as Amfilohije for patriarch. Amfilohije did not succeed in getting many votes and as such did not make the final shortlist of candidates for the role. A few days later the elderly Danilo Dajković retired and in December 1990 Amfilohije was elected to succeed him as Metropolitan of the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral, a position he holds to this day. Guests that were present at his inauguration ceremony were Matija Bećković, Novak Kilibarda and Radovan Karadžić. The arrival of Amfilohije to his new role was greeted by numerous people that ranged from high ranking politicians to Serbian nationalists in Montenegro. At Cetinje in December 1990 public protests by people against his appointment as metropolitan followed, due to the reputation of Amfilohije as a Serb nationalist and his denial of a separate Montenegrin identity.
Revival of the Serbian Orthodox Church in MontenegroEdit
The Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro reemerged as a spiritual and political force during the late 1980s following the appointment of Amfilohije as metropolitan. In his role as metropolitan he initiated a programme to construct new churches, monasteries and rebuild old churches. Other initiatives by Amfilohije resulted in more monks, nuns, priests and people into the church and an increase of Montenegrins baptised into Orthodoxy during a time when his relations with the Yugoslav Montenegrin government were strained. Relics from the bodies of saints were used to rally and to "re-Christianise" the population by the SOC such as those from St. Basil that were divided and later sent out to other monasteries in Yugoslavia.
In Montenegro new churches exhibited fragments of people deemed as martyrs that had died at the Jasenovac Concentration Camp to remind parishioners of the suffering that Serbs had undergone in World War Two. Amfilohije campaigned to rehabilitate Nikolaj Velimirović, an interwar Serbian Orthodox cleric imprisoned by the Axis powers during the Second World War whom he viewed as a martyr. At Cetinje, Amfilohije opened a new theological school, a publishing house known as Svetagora and a radio station called Radio Svetagora. Amfilohije is the main supervisor of his publishing house Svetagora. At the time his relations with the Montenegrin government were lukewarm and he lobbied for religious education by the SOC to be compulsory in schools.
Break up of Yugoslavia and Yugoslav warsEdit
Amfilohije became a prominent advocate and supporter of Srpstvo (Serbdom) and was a self declared Serbian nationalist. His appointment as metropolitan coincided with the rise of Slobodan Milošević and the mobilisation of the Serb population in Yugoslavia that was supported by the SOC, along with an increase in Serbian nationalist sentiment. The SOC increasingly embraced a nationalist path, mainly by radical elements within its ranks as represented by the figure of Amfilohije. He and several other SOC bishops claimed that the responsibility of Yugoslavia's problems were based upon genocidal tendencies among Yugoslav ethnic groups and the West, with its modernity and ideologies such as communism, individualism, materialism and secularism. Amfilohije made comments on the situation in Kosovo and claimed that expansionist countries of the Catholic and Protestant West and Muslim East were "an insane wind trying ceasesly to extinguish this sacred lamp", defined as Serbia.
As the Yugoslav wars spread, Amfilohije along with other high ranking clerics strengthened their positions as the older generation of clerics and theologians that made compromises with the past Yugoslav communist government were sidelined. During this period Amfilohije made anti-modernist, anti-Muslim and anti-Croat comments. In 1992 claims against Bosniaks, Croats and Albanians were made and repeated by high ranking Serb Orthodox clergy such as Amfilohije that the Serbs faced a genocide from them through a global conspiracy assisted by the Vatican and Germany. In the early 1990s, Amfilohije and Bishop Vasilije Kačavenda deepened religious and ethnic divisions during the Yugoslav wars and alleged that a global conspiracy existed against the SOC. Amfilohije stated that the "natural space" of the Serbs lay with the Orthodox East and that they needed to fight the Protestant and Catholic West and also Islam, as according to him "without death there will be no resurrection".
Amfilohije became a prominent contributor to debates regarding identity and sovereignty issues of Montenegro. A number of his views are on the statehood and nationhood of Montenegro and identity of Montenegrins which Amfilohije regards as being of Serb ethnic origin or the "best and purest Serbs" consisting of elements such as Kosovo, St. Sava and the Nemanjić dynasty. Other positions include that the Serb ancestors of the Montenegrins fled from the control of Islam to Montenegro and from there the Serbian nation had the opportunity to revive itself after the defeat suffered by Serbs at the Battle of Kosovo (1389). It led to strong disagreements with the Montenegrin government that over time favoured independence from Serbia. For Amfilohije the Montenegrin nation was invented by communists such as Tito and Milovan Đilas along with separatists supported by external forces that sought to separate Montenegrins from their historic origins and split Serbs within the wider region. He viewed people advocating for an independent and restored Montenegrin Orthodox Church (MOC) as "heretical and schismatic" that waged a campaign against the SOC and labelled Montenegrin autocephalists as "Crnolatinaši" (Black Latins), a derogatory expression used for dogmatic and fanatical Catholic clergy. Amfilohije stated that the MOC was a "political entity" and that Montenegrin autocephalists were "Titoists" and "Godless" that came from "non-church circles" and a irreligious background.
The MOC attempted to characterise Amfilohije as a "dangerous fundamentalist" that wanted to impose the SOC upon all Orthodox Montenegrins and autocephalists viewed him as part of an "anti-Montenegrin" assimilation campaign. Protests by Montenegrin autocephalists were held against Amfilohije, sometimes in places when he was present such as at the inauguration ceremony for the Cathedral of Christ's Resurrection in Podgorica and the interruption of a conference of Montenegrin academia honouring Petar II Petrović-Njegoš. The Montenegrin opposition viewed Amfilohije and his supporters as agents of a "Greater Serbian project" and accused the metropolitan of wanting to maintain ecclesiastical control over all churches in Montenegro..
Early on Amfilohije supported Milošević, his policies and the Serbian nationalist cause during the breakup of Yugoslavia and wars that engulfed Croatia and Bosnia. During a 1990 interview with Serbian newspaper NIN, Amfilohije stated that Milošević should be "commended" as he understood "the vital interests of the Serb people" and that "if they continue as they started, the results will be very impressive." In another interview with the foreign media Amfilohije said that the Kosovo jubilee of the late 1980s made Serbia demonstrate "a national unity, unseen probably since 1914." In comments made to a Kosovo Serbian language newspaper Jedinstvo in 1990, Amfilohije acknowledged the self determination of Slovenes and Croats to statehood and said the Serbs should do likewise adding that "reconciliation over the graves of innocents" was impossible "until the Croatian people renounce the evil".
In anticipation of an invasion by Yugoslav troops of southern Croatia, the SOC, represented on the ground by Amfilohije conducted a religious ceremony (17 February 1991) at a historic Orthodox church at the Prevlaka peninsula on the Croatia-Montenegro border. During the Siege of Dubrovnik campaign, Amfilohije played the gusle (a stringed instrument) and sang verses to Yugoslav Montenegrin troops from the epic poem "Battle of Mojkovac". He made many visits to Serb soldiers in Bosnia to give his support. Amfilohije often praised the wartime Bosnian Serb leadership such as Biljana Plavšić, whom he labelled as the "Kosovo Maiden" and Radovan Karadžić. Amfilohije invited the Serb paramilitary leader Arkan (Željko Ražnatović) and his group the Tigers, a paramilitary group on two separate occasions to guard the Cetinje Monastery in 1991 and 1992. On the second of those visits during Orthodox Christmas eve (1992), Montenegrin autocephalists had assembled at King Nikola's Square and Arkan with his Tigers were present at the monastery where Amfilohije told the gathered crowd that "Skadar" (Shkodër in Albania) "would be Montenegrin again".
At the time Amfilohije was also involved as an arbiter in external and internal conflicts within and between Serbian political parties in Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia-Hercegovina. During the war in Bosnia, Amfilohije in 1994 called for Republika Srpska, a Bosnian Serb self declared political entity to be supported. He was critical of what he viewed as Yugoslav government and European inaction toward Bosnian Serbs and the perceived danger they and the Orthodox faith in Bosnia faced from Muslim Bosniaks. Amfilohije maintained a strong relationship with the wartime Bosnian Serb leadership based in the town of Pale, Bosnia. He often visited Pale and told Serb troops to continue fighting. Amfilohije supported the decision by the wartime Bosnian Serb leadership to reject the Vance–Owen peace plan which proposed to divide Bosnia into multiple cantons. The relationship between Amfilohije and the Serbian president deteriorated after Milošević broke with the Bosnian Serb leadership, due to their rejection in May 1993 of the Vance–Owen peace plan. Amfilohije continued to support the wartime Bosnian Serb leadership and became a strong critic of Milošević and his policies. In 1995 with Serb forces losing ground in Croatia and Bosnia to a Croat and Croat-Bosniak military offensives and NATO airstrikes, Amfilohije addressed the Montenegrin parliament and called for them to abandon support for Milošević and to remove their sanctions against Bosnian Serbs.
Late 1990s and early 2000sEdit
Due to his opposition toward Milošević, Amfilohije for a short time found common ground with Milo Đukanović when in 1997 the Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro (DPS) became divided into pro and anti Milošević groups. Amfilohije gave blessings to Đukanović when he became Montenegrin president in January 1998. Over time as Đukanović advocated for an independent Montenegro, a rift emerged in their relationship and Amfilohije became a strong critic of the Montenegrin president. Attempts to alleviate ecclesiastical tensions resulted in Đukanović and Prime Minister Igor Lukšić asking Amfilohije to become part of the MOC, a move that is unachievable as the MOC lacks recognition and is considered heretical by other Orthodox churches. In the late 1990s Amfilohije, as head of the Montenegrin metropolitanate was in charge of 160 clergy such as priests, monks and nuns that provided religious service to more than 90% of parishes and monasteries within Montenegro.
In the mid-2000s Amfilohije commentated and made critical statements regarding the integration of Serbia into the European Union. Amfilohije opposed dialogue and is anti-ecumenical in relation to the Catholic church. In the late twentieth century Amfilohije gave support to nationalists and radical anti-Westerners and in the early twenty first century he has devoted his efforts toward dialogue between the Orthodox and Catholic churches. During February 2003, Amfilohije was head of a SOC delegation that visited the Vatican and German Catholic media reported that he invited the Pope to Belgrade, later denied by the SOC. Exposed to Catholic influence Amfilohije has shifted his position about the "evil essence" of people in the West and has begun to distinguish between a "bad" secular and "good" anti secular Europe. Amfilohije has promoted and advocated for the concept of "theo-democracy" without going into the specifics of the idea as a possible opposition toward liberal democracy. Amfilohije's views remain distant from a liberal perspective and as such Klaus Buchenau states he cannot be labelled a "pro-westerner". In 2005 Amfilohije urged Radovan Karadžić, who evaded capture from the ICTY indictment, to give himself up.
On June 18, 2005 a small corrugated iron church was placed by a helicopter atop the summit of Mount Rumija by the 172nd Airborne Brigade of the Serbian and Montenegrin Army of Podgorica at the request of the Council Church of Podgorica, a dependent of the Orthodox Serb Metropolitan of Montenegro. The symbolic action aimed at demonstrating the dominance of the SOC over other religions and to reaffirm the Serbian character of Montenegro, the event also revealed the close links between Amfilohije and the army. The SOC stated that a former church existed some 500 years in that location which was destroyed by the Ottomans. The action was criticised in Montenegro by public figures such as Andrej Nikolaidis who stated there never was a church in that location and Amfilohije received negative press from Montenegrin media of appropriating the site for one faith to the exclusion of others and generating inter religious disharmony. In a letter addressed to Đukanović, Amfilohije stated that any removal of the church would be an act of vandalism.
During the 2006 Montenegrin independence referendum, Amfilohije supported the continuation of Serbian–Montenegrin unionism and was an important figure in the remain campaign. In Montenegro Amfilohije was viewed as a more able articulator for the interests of Montenegrin Serbs then politicians of the time. Amfilohije protested an attempt in 2006 by the MOC to storm a church near Cetinje and stated that he thought the Montenegrin government were behind the actions of the MOC. A future unification of all Orthodox churches within Montenegro is opposed by Amfilohije. Montenegrin politician Ranko Krivokapić is a major rival of Amfilohije. During May 2011 Amfilohije was charged with hate speech and underwent a court trial in Podgorica due to comments made toward people who wanted to remove a church located at Mount Rumija. The trial lasted until November 2012 where Amfilohije rejected the charges against him and later at the conclusion of his case he received a caution from the court. During 2013 Amfilohije attempted to have Petar II Petrović-Njegoš declared a saint, yet those efforts were opposed by Montenegrin authorities and SOC synod. At the Cathedral of Christ's Resurrection in Podgorica, the image of Amfilohije is featured among the frescoes.
In 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia and Amfilohije gave speeches where he said that Kosovo was "Jerusalem, the cradle of the Serbian nation". At the time Amfilohije criticsed the Serb Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić and President Boris Tadić as "traitors who did not want the army to defend Kosovo". Amfilohije also stated that Serbia needed to buy new weapons from Russia and get Russian volunteers to defend Kosovo. During a March 2008 interview, Amfilohije stated that for the Serbian elections he supported the Serbian Radical Party (SRP) and Democratic Party of Serbia (DPS).
On November 13, 2007, after Serbian Patriarch Pavle (1914–2009) had been transferred to a clinical center due to his poor health, the Holy Synod of the SOC elected Radović to perform the duties of the Patriarch. Patriarch Pavle died on November 15, 2009, and Amfilohije continued his role as Guardian of the Throne. Amfilohije, portrayed as a compromise figure between nationalists and bishops, along with Vasilije Kačavenda and Irinej Bulović were the main candidates for SOC patriarch. He ceased to perform that duty after the election of Bishop Irinej of Niš as the new Patriarch on January 22, 2010.
On 2, August 2014 at a church gathering on Ilindan (St. Elijah's day), Amfilohije stated that Muslims were "a false people with a false religion" and Islamic teachings a "spiritual death". He made comments on the Mountain Wreath, a 19th-century poem written by Petar Petrović Njegoš regarding what Amfilohije described as the "extermination of the Turkifiers". Amfilohije stated that killing people was "horrible, however more terrible is the spiritual death sown around by fake people with false faith." He further added that "Thanks to those victims, Bishop Danilo saved Montenegro. Otherwise, there would not have been a single Orthodox ear left in Montenegro."
On 8, October 2014 at a church celebration in Kolašin, Amfilohije said "two evil and deadly diseases ravaged through this region, poturčenjaštvo and brozomora." The word poturčenjaštvo is in reference to Slavic people becoming Muslims or converting to Islam, the faith of the "Turks" (Ottomans) in the Ottoman era and brozomora (Broz disease) is in relation to acceptance of the communist ideology of Josip Broz Tito. Amfilohije also stated that the era under Tito resulted in the division of a unitary Serbian nation into four separate nations such as the "Bosniaks, Montenegrins and Macedonians". The Islamic Community of Montenegro responded by stating that Amfilohije's comments were "hate speech" and referred to the close relations the church and Amfilohije had with combatants and their "crimes against humanity" during the Yugoslav Wars.
Amfilohije is well known for his frequent statements against the LGBT rights and gender equality, and has been quoted calling the Pride a "parade of death, self-destruction, murder and homicide". He was also elected as "homophobe of the year by the NGO Queer Montenegro in 2014. He was also publicly warned by the Ombudsman for hate speech and discrimination of the LBGT minority. Amfilohije has denounced NATO, calling it a "militaristic, totalitarian, terrorist, international organization". The SOC in Montenegro has called for a referendum on Montenegro's NATO accession. Protests have been held, organized by the Montenegrin opposition, made up of the mainly Serb community. Amfilohije has publicly criticized Montenegro's "separation from Mother Russia".
Public opinion and criticismEdit
Amfilohije as a metropolitan has understood Montenegrin sentiments and the social currents of Montenegro. He is a controversial figure that is respected by his clergy and disliked by critics. Due to his status as a public figure, polarised public opinion over Amfilohije is either positive or negative. Among Montenegrin Serbs, Amfilohije is a popular figure and in polls conducted during 2003-2004 he ranked as one of the top trusted people in public life of Montenegro. As a divisive figure Amfilohije has been portrayed by Montenegrin pro independence parties, some intellectuals and the MOC as a "war criminal" and "fundamentalist" causing conflict among fellow citizens.
A cottage industry arose around criticising Amfilohije in the 1990s that included literature such as Srpska crkva u ratu (Serbian church and war) by Milorad Tomanić. The MOC has engaged in a public relations campaign aimed at what they considered to be the negative aspect of Amfilohije's character. Those efforts have included the MOC publishing a book by Vešeljko Koprivica about Amfilohije called Amfilohijeva sabrana ne djela (Misdeeds of Amfilohije) that attempts to portray the metropolitan as a Serb nationalist that stirred conflict during the breakup of Yugoslavia and its wars.
The role of Amfilohije in the political and social life of Montenegro has been denounced as a supporter of "militant Greater Serbian politics" and "ideas that lead to war" by pro independence intellectuals and politicians such as Slavko Perović and Miodrag Perović. In the rivalry between Amfilohije of the SOC and Metropolitan Mihailo Dedeić of the MOC have often exchanged personal slurs and both have become representatives of the Serbian and Montenegrin factions within the country. Opponents of Amfilohije in Montenegro have labelled him as "Risto Sotona" (Risto the Satan). In the late 2000s the Serbian newspaper Standard alleged that bishops Amfilohije and Vasilije Kačavenda left a dying Patriarch Pavle in his role to extend time and increase their possibility of ascending to that office themselves.
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