SOC approved and blessed, and Fanar should confirm the autocephaly of MOC-OA

The leaders of the SOC and MOC-OA, Porphyry and Stefan, Photo: Free Press / Dragan Mitreski

Positive signals arrived from Constantinople and Moscow after receiving the blessing from the SOC for the autocephalous status of the MOC-OA. For the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the removal of the 55-year-old schism is a historic moment, and for the RPC a joyous event that has been awaited for many years.

"It is a historic moment that the schism that lasted for almost six decades, at the initiative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, has ended, has been removed and we are entering a new period," said Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

He pointed out that even before the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to accept the Ohrid Archbishopric into a canonical and Eucharistic community, there was a dialogue between the churches of Northern Macedonia and Serbia.

- In the past, before our decision, a dialogue was started with the Church of Skopje, but our decision facilitated the Church of Serbia and on Thursday, May 19, His Beatitude Patriarch Porphyry, the head of the SOC invited the head of the Ohrid Church and had a joint liturgy in Belgrade. This fills us with pleasure. It is a historic moment. A schism that lasted for about six decades, at the initiative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, ended, was removed and we are entering a new period. "Serbia called this joint liturgy on May 19 a reconciliation liturgy and we are glad for these events," the Ecumenical Patriarch said in an interview with Greek television ERT and expressed satisfaction with the latest developments in the church issue.

Bartholomew, as reported by MIA correspondent from Athens, explains in the interview that the specific issue of schism has been in the focus of the Patriarchate for many years, and delegations from the "Church of Northern Macedonia" often came for consultations and requests from the political leadership.

He pointed out that after "the appellate appeal (eclitus) of that church to the mother church, which according to the decision of the fourth ecumenical council of Chalcedon has this inalienable right to decide on such cases at the highest level," the schism was removed.

- On the basis of this eclipse we removed the schism, we declared that we are entering into the Eucharistic communion with them. We called their church the Ohrid Archbishopric, we excluded the term "Macedonian church" and any derived word from the word "Macedonia". We have limited the boundaries of jurisdiction within the borders of the territory of Northern Macedonia, as it is called today, and we have assigned all additional administrative issues to the Holy Church of Serbia, with the precondition that these other matters be based on the canonical act and centuries-old practices of the whole Orthodox Church, said the Ecumenical Patriarch.

According to him, the Serbian Church acted correctly to join the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

For the Russian Orthodox Church, "the recognition of the autocephaly of the Church in Northern Macedonia by the Serbian Orthodox Church" is a joyous event, which is expected to be discussed at the next meeting of the Holy Synod.

- We rejoice together with our Serbian and Macedonian brothers. We have been waiting for this event for many years. And now came the hour of God's will. I believe that the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church will give an appropriate response at its next meeting, said the Deputy Chairman of the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate, Archpriest Nikolai Balashov.

So far, there are no official reactions from other local churches after the announcement of the Serbian Patriarch Porphyry at the joint Aryan liturgy in the Cathedral "St. Clement of Ohrid" in Skopje, that the Holy Synod of Bishops of the SOC unanimously decided to recognize the autocephalous status of the Macedonian Orthodox Church.

Patriarch Porphyry stressed that this decision will be notified to all local Orthodox churches according to the canonical order, with a call to accept the autocephalous status of the MOC-OA.

Church analysts say that although the decision came as a surprise to the Orthodox world, it was still expected, especially after the intensified engagement of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and believe that it will be accepted by other local churches.

- The Bulgarian Orthodox Church will have to recognize the Macedonian as one of the many Orthodox churches in the world, and not as the only one with which it has a direct common historical past, because the chances for that are missed, said church analyst and historian Goran Blagoev.

He estimates that almost no one in the Orthodox world will be impressed by Bulgaria's claims for the name Ohrid Archbishopric, and that what is dictated and determined by the Patriarch of Constantinople will be accepted. What happened to the MOC, according to him, is expected, especially after the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in 2019 refused to commit to supporting the resolution of the Macedonian church case. Since the Bulgarian Synod had neither the authority nor the potential to do so, things naturally came to what happened - Serbian Patriarch Porphyry in Skopje announced that the SOC was giving autocephaly to the MOC-OA.

Bulgaria's approach and attitude towards this issue, Blagoev believes, should be very delicate, because Sofia has already embittered enough people in the country with the blockade of EU accession.

The media in Serbia positively assess the decision of the SOC. reports a statement by an unnamed representative of the Patriarchate in Belgrade who said that "that was the only correct solution, which suits the SOC, but also the brothers in Macedonia."

- The return of the canonical unity of the Ohrid Archbishopric was a necessary step towards the recognition of the autocephaly of the MOC. The message was conveyed to the participants of the Assembly that the brothers from Macedonia regret the way the schism was caused in 1967 and that their predecessors tried in the wrong way to fight for autocephaly. At the same time, a request was sent to the Serbian Orthodox Church to recognize the Macedonian Orthodox Church, which was answered positively, said the representative of the Serbian Patriarchate.

The decision was strictly kept secret and the participants in the Holy Synod of Bishops of the SOC agreed that it should be announced by Patriarch Porphyry at the liturgy in Skopje. Therefore, this information was missing in the official announcement of the SOC, published after the end of the hierarchical council.

The positive political reactions and efforts for a final solution of the Macedonian church issue continue.

Yesterday, President Stevo Pendarovski had a telephone conversation with Serbian Patriarch Porfirij, on the occasion of the decision made by the Assembly of the Serbian Orthodox Church to accept the autocephaly of the Macedonian Orthodox Church - Ohrid Archbishopric.

Pendarovski, as his Cabinet announced, thanked the Patriarch for the decision of the SOC Assembly to accept the autocephaly of the MOC-OA, assessing it as an opportunity to build new relations between the Macedonian and Serbian Orthodox Church and overcome the bitter topics of the past.

Pendarovski expressed hope that the whole process of recognizing the autocephaly of the Macedonian Orthodox Church - Ohrid Archbishopric will end with the imminent signing of the Tomos by the Ecumenical Patriarch gg. Bartholomew.

The Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski, on the other hand, at a meeting with the head of the MOC-OA gg Stefan personally congratulates him on the decision to acquire autocephalous status by which the MOC-OA is accepted as equal to the other sister churches in the Orthodox community. Kovacevski also congratulated the "faithful Macedonian people for their patience and perseverance, for the belief that they deserve to welcome the day when they will be accepted in love and when they will rejoice in the restored Ohrid Archbishopric in the person of the MOC as equal and officially accepted in the Orthodox community." churches ”.

With this canonically correct decision, the Prime Minister pointed out, we will gladly and without the slightest restraint welcome the joint service with the representatives of the other Orthodox Churches at the headquarters of the Constantinople Patriarchate, which will accept the MOC-OA as an equal sister church.

Mr. г. At a joint liturgy with Patriarch Porphyry in the Cathedral, Stephen announced that the Ecumenical Patriarchate had accepted the request of the MOC-OA for a service to be held in the church in Phanar on the Church's birthday, on the feast day of Pentecost (June 12).

In the meantime, the synods of the MOC and the SOC should work out the technical-organizational details, which will be followed by the solemn proclamation of an official act, as well as the expected tomos from the Ecumenical Patriarchate for autocephaly of the Ohrid Archbishopric.

Source: MIA

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