MOC-OA is silent about the offer from the SOC - Moscow also agreed on canonical unity through autonomy

Cathedral of St. Clement of Ohrid / Photo: Free Press.
Cathedral of St. Clement of Ohrid / Photo: Free Press.

The Assembly of the Serbian Orthodox Church yesterday declared canonical unity with the MOC-OA, which, according to Serbian sources, "resolved the dispute dating back to 1967 when the Macedonian Orthodox Church seceded from the SOC." The decision of the Assembly of the SOC comes after the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on May 9, which recognized the MOC-OA as a canonical church. Fierce reactions from the church public that this decision of the SOC is a betrayal of the fight for autocephaly of the MOC-OA and that it should be known that the canonical status of the MOC-OA is resolved by the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and that the MOC-OA, in the period until finally resolving the autocephalous status, remains in the organizational structure as before as an autocephalous church.

Yesterday's decision of the Assembly of the SOC states that "the acceptance of the generally recognized canonical status of the widest possible autonomy, ie full internal independence of the MOC, granted in 1959" is welcomed.

- Receiving the act of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Macedonian Orthodox Church - Ohrid Archbishopric accepting the generally recognized canonical status granted to it by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1959 and expressing hope that the Serbian Orthodox Church and The canonical status, followed by the pan-Orthodox consent and acceptance of that status, the Holy Synod of Bishops decided: with gratitude to God and with joy, the Council welcomes the acceptance of the generally recognized canonical status, which is the status of the widest possible autonomy, ie full internal independence, granted in 1959, is stated in the statement of the SOC.

According to the SOC, this "removes the reasons for the cessation of liturgical and canonical communion, caused by the unilateral proclamation of autocephaly in 1967" and establishes full liturgical and canonical communion.

The SOC also emphasizes that in the dialogue on the future and eventually final canonical status of the MOC-OA, the Serbian Orthodox Church "will be guided solely and exclusively by ecclesiological-canonical and church-pastoral principles, criteria and norms, not caring about" realpolit " "" Geopolitical "," ecclesiastical "and other similar matters or for unilateral initiatives and not falling under the influence or pressure of anyone.

- And finally, the Council does not intend after the status settlement to condition the new sister Church with restrictive clauses regarding the scope of its jurisdiction in the home country and in the diaspora, with a recommendation that the issue of its official name be resolved in direct fraternal dialogue with the Hellenic and other local Orthodox churches, it is stated in the announcement published on the website of the SOC.

With this decision, MOC-OA is no longer a "schismatic church" and in fact only the status of "autonomous church of the SOC" is recognized, without guarantees that it will ever receive autocephaly, given that, according to the Assembly of the SOC, it will be a "general Orthodox consensus" is needed, which is impossible, experts in the Macedonian media warn.

With this, practically, as the Belgrade newspaper "Kurir" reported this weekend, the SOC replaces the so-called Jovan Vraniskovski's "Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric" (POA) with the MOC-OA, where he "will retire due to his serious health condition, and the three POA bishops would retain the episcopal rank and receive the administration of one of the monasteries in Northern Macedonia or dioceses within the Ohrid Archbishopric would be assigned to them ”. It would also mean that the Synod of the MOC-OA would become part of the Assembly of the SOC and would participate in its work.

Serbian "Kurir" claims that the church unity of the SOC with MOC-OA "was directly and indirectly discussed several times in the previous period, and even in early May at a meeting in Nis of Serbian Patriarch Porphyry and Archbishop of Ohrid and Macedonia Stefan, who were accompanied by hierarchs of both churches ”.

There are no details who asked for and what the offer was, nor a written document that someone gave consent for that, or that the Holy Synod of the MOC-OA was informed about this, nor that it was agreed at a session of the HH of the MOC-OA.

In that context, apart from the offered autonomous status, a problem in the future opens a place for our Church, which although the Assembly of the SOC points out that should be "resolved in direct fraternal dialogue with the Elenophone and other local Orthodox churches." In addition to blockades on the use of the adjective Makedonska, blockades are also possible from the Bulgarian Orthodox Church (BOC), which considers the historic Ohrid Archbishopric to be part of the Bulgarian church tradition. Namely, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew recognized the MOC-OA as a canonical church under the name "Ohrid Archbishopric", which is unacceptable for the BOC,

Yesterday's announcement of the Serbian Orthodox Church states that the decision is made on the basis of an act of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the MOC-OA, which accepts the autonomous canonical status granted by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1959. This allegation in the decision of the Assembly of the SOC, implies that the SAS of the MOC-OA agreed to accept autonomous status, for which there is no confirmation.

Following the decision of the Assembly of the SOC, the Vice President of the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate, Archpriest Nikolai Balasov, announced that the Russian Orthodox Church welcomes the decision of the Serbian Church to renew canonical communion with the Macedonian Orthodox Church. adding that it was "overcoming the half-century old church schism".

Following the decision of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to recognize the MOC-OA as a canonical church, the Secretary of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Archpriest Igor Jakimchuk said last week that the ROC "recognizes the exclusive canon rights of the Serbian Orthodox Church. ”.

The Synod of the MOC-OA is silent for the time being and there is no official reaction to the decision of the Assembly of the SOC. Prior to yesterday's decision, regarding the speculations published this weekend in the Belgrade media that dignitaries of the Serbian and Macedonian churches at the end of the SOC Assembly will serve together a holy hierarch liturgy as a sign of "reconciliation and renewal of unity", sources in MOC-OA for MIA pointed out that our Church has not received an invitation, nor does it plan to hold a joint holy hierarchical liturgy with the SOC.

The same sources pointed out that in the previous period such a possibility was discussed, but that now after the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on May 9 to recognize the MOC-OA as a canonical church, things have changed and there are no plans to hold a joint service with Serbian churches. dignitaries.

This position probably means that MOC-OA now believes that its canonical status is resolved by the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and that in the period until the final recognition of its autocephaly by other local Orthodox churches, it remains in the current organizational structure as an autocephalous church, ie liturgies first the Ecumenical Patriarch will be mentioned and then all the others in the order of the diptych as before.

In that context, it was announced yesterday that on June 5, on the feast of Pentecost or Holy Trinity, the head of the MOC-OA, Archbishop of Ohrid and Macedonia Stefan will probably hold the first joint service with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Constantinople, but MIA sources from our Church They pointed out that although such a service is planned, so far nothing has been specified. Regarding this announcement, the spokesman of the Synod of the MOC-OA, the Metropolitan of Debar and Kichevo Timotej in a statement to Pressing TV, only briefly replied that "neither confirms nor denies such information."

The portal Religija.mk assessed this weekend that by announcing the recognition of canonical unity with the MOC-OA, the SOC is trying to "create an apparent image against reality, equating the recognitions of the canonical status of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the SOC as identical."

- But they have two huge differences. The first is the order, and the second is the administrative status of the church. MOC-OA, first recognized by the SOC as canonical, receives a resolved canonical status, but de facto also receives a resolved administrative status, but as autonomy, because it returns to where it left off. MOC-OA recognized first by the Ecumenical Patriarchate receives a resolved canonical status, but remains in informal autocephaly with an unresolved administrative status, according to the portal.

But, according to Religija.mk, the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarch to recognize the MOC-OA as a canonical church caused a "complete derailment".

- Instead of triumph, the SOC is in a position to follow the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, because the resolution of the canonical status of the MOC-OA comes through the Ecumenical Patriarchate, using the instrument of appeal, and not through the Serbian Orthodox Church. The difference is that if the MOC-OA returned to canonical unity through the SOC, it would be practically an autonomous church. And one day autonomy, without any guarantee of autocephaly is a cataclysm. With the current situation returning to the canonical unity through the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the MOC is practically in an informal autocephalous status, which has yet to be made official.

This decision of the SOC has only one positive element, if it can be interpreted that way. That is what agrees that MOC-OA is no longer a schismatic church.

MOC-OA should respond to this decision in exactly that spirit. To thank that the SOC recognized that MOC-OA is a canonically correct church and to point out that its canonical status was resolved by the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and that MOC-OA, in the period until the final resolution of the autocephalous status, remains in the organizational structure as before. as an autocephalous church. At the liturgies he will be the first to mention the Ecumenical Patriarch, and then all the others in the order of the diptych as before, concludes Religija.mk.

Source: MIA

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