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|Metropolitan Mihailo (Miraš Dedeić)|
8 November 1938 |
Ramovo Ždrijelo, Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Miraš Dedeić (Montenegrin: Mihailo, Miraš Dedeić), also known as Metropolitan Mihailo (b. 8 November 1938), is the head of the uncanonical Montenegrin Orthodox Church since 1997. He has the self-styled title of Archbishop of Cetinje and the Montenegrin Metropolinate.
Miraš Dedeić was born on 8 November 1938 in the village Ramovo Ždrijelo in the Zeta Banovina of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, to Mlađen Dedeić and Saveta Delibašić. Dedeić's family is from Njegovuđe, but their ancestors, originally of the Drobnjak clan, moved to Dobrilovina in the early 16th century. On 20 November 1938 he was baptized by a Serbian Orthodox priest by the name of Niko Pavičić in the Church of Saint Transfiguration of Lord in the not far away village of Krš. His godfather was Krsto Bajčeta. Miraš finished the elementary school in Tomaševo-Šahovići. At the age of 21, after World War II, he joined the Seminary in Prizren. He finished only two grades studying separately from normal class, today he claims he was forced to abandon education allegedly because he identified as a Montenegrin, and not a Serb. Instead, he finished the Real Classical High School of Prizren. He afterwards enrolled in the study of pedagogy at the University of Priština, but always remained wishful for a theological life and asked the bishop of Raška-Prizren Pavle of the Serbian Orthodox Church for assistance, who gave him a blessing and he joined the Theological Faculty of the University of Belgrade on 16 September 1965. He studied as an irregular student and finished exams under professor Čedomir Drašković. Dedeić graduated in 1969.
On 11 November 1969 the Holy Synod of the SOC appointed him assistant teacher for the monastic school at Ostrog Monastery. Then's Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral Danilo Dajković was his opponent and was against this, managing to get him fired on 6 October 1970. Professor Čedo Drašković, whom he managed to befriend, sent him attend the Papal Oriental Institute in Rome, which he finished on 23 June 1973. Metropolitan Danilo was against this, but prof Dr Ivan Žužek, a known Catholic canonist, managed to defend him. The Metropolitan of the Montenegrin-Littoral Church was a critic of the Communist regime and Cedomir Draskovic, who had remained close to the Communist Party. He also criticized Dedeic's poor school ratings. Dedeić submitted a doctorate request to a Slovenian professor at the college, Dr Leskovac, but he rejected Miraš's PhD application. After attempting the post-graduate studies at the Russian Spiritual Academy of Saint Serge in Zagorsky, he dropped them and then turned to Montenegro.
Drašković managed to recommend him to work at the State Archive of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on 31 January 1975, and he is subsequently sent by an academician of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts Vaso Čubrilović and he set off to work for Director Mazayef. On 18 June 1975 he is given access to the Scedrin Library at Leningrad. Then he worked for the SANU Catheder for History as Cubrilovic employed him to collect data from the period between 16th and 18th centuries from the Archive of Trieste. On 19 April 1982 Serbian academician Radovan Samardžić recommended him to the State Archive of Italy and is employed by the Italian Foreign Ministry and works on the collection of sources in the Vatican Secret Archives, the Archive of the Propaganda Fide and the Venetian Archive. In Italy he married Rosana, a medical nurse in an Elder Home, and moved in with her.
In June 1984 Miraš Dedeić attempted to enroll in ecclesiastic service, specifically at the Monastery of Ostrog. He was prepared to be beatified into monastic service in the Serbian Church, but Metropolitan Danilo was strictly against it and overruled the act. So he found ways elsewhere, in the Greek Orthodox Church. On 30 June 1988 he was ordained a priest in the Church of Holy Trinity in Vienna by the hand of the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Austria and Exarch of Italy and Hungary Hrizystom and spent almost the entire following decade as a Greek-Orthodox priest in Rome. He managed to gather the Orthodox Serb community in Rome and found the Serbian-Orthodox Municipality in Rome. He secured the permission from the Ecumenical Patriarch Spiridon to hold liturgic service in the local Greek Church of Saint Andrew in Serbian.
|“||The Birth of the Christ was today celebrated also by the children of Saint Sava and the descendants of Saint Prince Lazar, the Orthodox Serbs that live in Rome. They have gathered today in front of the throne of the eternal ruler - Christ||”|
|— Miraš Dedeić, 1989|
In 1991 he held a discussion with Croatian expert Dr Marin Kinel on Serbo-Croatian relations, in the outcome of the war. Miraš Dedeić became a proponent of Serbian nationalism, he magnified Slobodan Milošević as the savior of the Serb people, reintegrating Kosovo and Vojvodina. He justified the assault of the Yugoslav People's Army on Dubrovnik and a historical Montenegrin right to it, as well as Italy's right to Istria and Dalmatia. He blamed the Croatian President Franjo Tuđman for outcome of conflict, calling him "The Balkan Hitler".
|“||Speaking as a Serb, I desire that, when a permanent peace is established, Serbia and Croatia definitely separate.||”|
|— Miraš Dedeić, 1991|
His wife caught him in an act of adultery with a younger woman than him, which led to their divorce, in which she attacked him by saying that he was the cavalier and women's charmer of Rome. After she kicked him out her apartment. Following various rumors about him, the Ecclesiastical Court suspended him of all priestly ordains for an undetermined period in 1994 on the proposition of Metropolitan Spiridon (approved, November 1995), the final point being creation of a Serb-Orthodox Municipality out of the Greek Orthodox Church as his personal domain.
|“||..From one side he made a mockery of his ecclesiastic management, and from the other side he cursed the given church authority and despotically and independently administered the given to him Orthodox Community in Rome, inciting in it divisions and unrest...||”|
On 16 May 1995 wrote to the Serbian Orthodox Metropolitan of Zagreb-Ljubljana and All of Italy Jovan to accept his service in the SOC, but his pleas were ignored.
|“||Because I have founded, the Serbian Ecclesiastic Municipality in Rome the Greeks were angry at me, a misunderstanding arose and Metropolitan Spiridon suspended me for these three months. Unfortunately, some high ranking members of the Serbian Orthodox Church have found this proposal to disband me acceptable. Metropolitan Spiridon has promised me to cannonically relief me if only some Serb Archherei accepts me into his clergy.||”|
During the 1992-1995 Bosnian war, Dedeic had been fundraising to support the Army of the Serb Republic under Ratko Mladić's command during his plight to support the Serbs fighting the Bosnian Muslims and Croats.
Head of MOC
With the death of the Head of the self-styled Montenegrin Orthodox Church Antonije Abramović in 1996, Sreten Perović introduced Miraš Dedeić to the Montenegrin Orthodox public and Dedeić expressed joy for the recreation of a MOC, explaining how he is angry at the horrible way the SOC treated him so far and particularly at his future prime opponent, Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral. He was thus elected on a Montenegrin National Gathering on 6 January 1997 as the new head of the self-styled Montenegrin Orthodox Church by a crown of followers in Cetinje and on 27 January 1997 he resigned from the GOC. The gathering featured far fewer people then from back the last time under his predecessor Antonije Abramovic, as back then it was a sign of a liberal struggle against the authoritarian regime of Momir Bulatović, Milo Đukanović and Svetozar Marović heavily influenced by the Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. This was swiftly followed by his full-scale excommunication and an anathema from the community of the Eastern Orthodox Church by decree of the Ecumenical Holy Synod on 9 April 1997.
In 1997 Djukanovic defeated pro-Serbian protégé Bulatovic in presidential elections, leading to a change in treatment of the MOC. Dedeic managed to register his Church as a Non-governmental organization in the Cetinje local police station. Soon afterwards in 1998 he was made a monk and archymandrite by the likewise unrecognized Macedonian Orthodox Church, but it refused to give him the title of Bishop, in order to maintain good relations with the Serbian Orthodox Church, which its official part it is. Miras found it in the likewise uncanonical Bulgarian Alternative Orthodox Church. The same year was made Bishop of Cetinje by the excommunicated Patriarch Pimen and seven Metropolitans and Episcops of his Church. On 23 November 1999 Mihailo attempted to do what his predecessor failed and submitted himself a request for official recognition as one of the religious communities in the Republic of Montenegro. After the request was again ignored, Dedeic brought the matter to the Courts, eventually winning the dispute and having the MOC officially registered on 17 January 2000. Leading his Church in communion with the uncannonical Orthodox Christian world, the Kiev-based Ukrainian Orthodox Church; it was in communion with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, however since 2006 it is within the process of restoration into the cannon Russian Orthodox Church.
Miras Dedeic's appointment for head of the MOC was not without controversy. The Board for the Restoration of Autocephalousness of the Montenegrin Orthodox Church, a sovereigntist NGO dedicated to returning a separate Montenegrin Church, did not approve it. Its president Dr Danilo Radojević was strictly against it, specifically because of Dedeic's controversies in Italy and Serb nationalist past. In 1999 the Montenegrin Orthodox Church received a Constitution under Michael, who subsequently proclaimed himself Archbishop of Cetinje. Support from the new directive Montenegrin authorities waned, and official Montenegro strictly separated itself from any support of the MOC, the country's President Filip Vujanović explicitly defends the SOC's stand. Supported once only by the now disbanded Liberal Alliance of Montenegro, MOC found political support in the reigning side within the Social Democratic Party of Montenegro and the Croatian Civic Initiative and the Liberal Party of Montenegro in the opposition.
Since 2005 Michael headed the construction of the first MOC shrines in Montenegro, but also in Serbia, where its supporter the "Crusader" Association of Ethnic Montenegrins is very active in Vojvodina. At the 2006 referendum Montenegro chose independence from its state union with Serbia, Michael officially supporting the "Yes" option. After it the Church announced a new directive, laying claim to all Serbian Orthodox monasteries and churches in Montenegro built before 1918 and those built afterwards with funds achieved in Montenegro, leading to a greater conflict with the legal Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral. On 11 January 2007 the Church's organization came closer to completion, as a Holy Synod was formed under Mihailo, and the territory of Montenegro was hierarchically split onto 5 Episcopates.
In 2007 Mihailo attempted to seize Beški from the SOC with a group of followers, after which he was sued by the Montenegrin Metropolitanate. Facing a trial at the local court of Bar, he was found guilty of disturbance of peace, the appeal was rejected and he received a restraint order banning him approach to the Serbian Orthodox Church. The same year he attempted to seize the Metropolitanate's seat, the Cetinje Monastery, with several hundred supporters. At the incident they clashed with the Montenegrin Police Forces which secured the monastery entry points on special order of the Government. Some of chants including those of Mihailo was interpreted as aggressive threats, while they were trying to brake in, and the event was sharply criticized by the public.
In 2008 the MOC wanted to register in Serbia, but was rejected, however the Serbian Supreme Court overruled the act deeming it unconstitutional. The conflict between the two religious groups in Montenegro again reached climate point when the local authorities of the Cetinje Municipality confiscated SOC property in Cetinje and granted it to the MOC. This situation now means that the relics of Saint John the Baptist are held de facto by Mihailo, much to the anguish of the Royal Family of Serbia and the Order of Saint John. Talks are currently underway with the Vatican to hand over the relics. But some consider that the rightful owners are the church authorities in Malta.
During his pastoral visit in Argentina in 2007, the Metropolitan Mihailo met Cardinal Bergoglio, who later became Pope Francis.
Besides his native Serbian, Miraš Dedeić is fluent in Italian, Russian and Greek, while he can also understand French and translate Latin. He is a personal friend of the successor to the Italian throne Umberto II; he worked in Umberto's Archive in his villa in the tiny Portuguese city of Cascais, searching for documents regarding Umberto's mother Helen (Jelena), Princess of Montenegro. Metropolitan Mihailo resides at Cetinje.
|Head of MOC
6 January 1997–present