The senior Serbian Orthodox Church cleric in Montenegro, Bishop Amfilohije died early on Friday at the age of 82 from coronavirus-related ailments, the Montenegro-Littoral Bishopric said in a press release.
The press release said the Bishop died in the Montenegro Clinical Hospital Center in Podgorica at 8:20 on October 30 after receiving communion and added that funeral details would be released later. “Archbishop of Cetinje, Metropolitan of Montenegro and Exarch of the Holy Throne of Pec, Amfilohije, after having received the Holy Sacrament of Communion, reposed in the Lord in the Clinical Hospital Center of Montenegro, on Friday, October 30, 2020, at 8.20 am, on the eve of the feast of St. Peter of Cetinje,” the press release said.
Reports appeared in media in both Belgrade and Podgorica late on Thursday that the bishop had died but that was denied by the Bishopric in a late night press release which said that the bishop was sick but stable.
Bishop Amfilohije was seen as a leading opponent of the Montenegrin authorities under President Milo Djukanovic, especially after the adopting of the fiercely disputed law on freedom of confession which critics said allows the authorities to seize church properties. The majority of Orthodox Christians in Montenegro belong to the Serbian Orthodox Church with a minority loyal to the canonically unrecognized Montenegrin Orthodox Church which Djukanovic’s opponents claim is part of his plans to create a separate Montenegrin nation. Bishop Amfilohije is also thought to have been one of the reasons why the opposition alliance which won the recent elections managed to keep together.
Bishop Amfilohije was born Risto Radovic on Orthodox Christmas day, January 7 1938 in the Montenegrin village of Bare Radovica. He was educated in church schools from the start, graduating from the Church University in Belgrade and getting a degree in classic languages from Belgrade University and going on to post-graduate studies in Bern and Rome. He was a professor at the Church Univeristy in Belgrade and served as its dean. Amfilohije was a monk who spoke six languages. He was named Metropolitan (Bishop) of the Montenegro Littoral Bishopric in 1990.