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Kotor between East and West

Catholic Looking down on St. Tryphon's Cathedral - Copyright by Alan Grant
Catholic and Orthodox Church in Kotor view on St Tryphon's Cathedral

In the small Adriatic town of Kotor one also finds signs of coexistence of the Catholic and Orthodox faiths. Traditionally here in mixed marriages partners keep their respective faith. In earlier times there existed the habit to baptise the sons according to the faith of the father and the daughters according to the faith of the mother. Godfathers and best men are still often of different confession than those who marry. Although many Catholics emigrated in the past century the town still hosts a sizeable catholic population (12 percent).

On 3 February traditionally both Catholic and Orthodox Kotorans participate in the celebrations and the procession of St. Tryphon's day, the patron saint of Kotor's Catholic cathedral. Relations between the churches have suffered recently due to the politics of Montenegrin independence. The Catholics complain about the visible political role of the Serbian Orthodox Church and its nationalism, and the Orthodox were offended when Catholics rang church bells after the Montenegrin parliament proclaimed independence.

However, as the photographer Stevan Kordic points out to ESI, this is not the first time that relations between the two churches are strained in many centuries of co-existence. "Sometimes relations are very good, sometimes there are some problems, like in a marriage." Kordic, son of an Orthodox father and a Catholic mother, says: "I believe in the unity of East and West. I feel at home in Rome as well as in Istanbul."

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