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Church of Serbia for North Macedonia: The dialogue is fair and realistic

On the issue of the church of northern Macedonia, the Holy Synod of the Bishops of the Patriarchate of Serbia discussed and took decisions.

In its announcement at the end of the meeting, the Holy Synod issued a statement expressing the hope that the canonical status of the Church of North Macedonia (Ohrid Archdiocese) will be resolved.

He added that in the dialogue on the future and possibly final status of the Bishops in North Macedonia, “which is not only possible, but legitimate and realistic”, the Serbian Patriarchate will be guided by the ecclesiastical principles and rules, “without any interest in “geopolitical data” or unilateral initiatives”, and that it is not subject to anyone’s influence or pressure.

It is emphasised that “with gratitude to the Lord and joy, the Synod welcomes the acceptance of the most widely recognised canonical status, which is the status of the widest possible autonomy, that is, full internal independence, granted in 1959”.

And he added: “since this eliminated the reasons for the discontinuation of the functional and canonical communion, which resulted from the unilateral proclamation of Autocephaly in 1967, a fully functional and canonical communion was established.”

The Holy Synod of the Church of Serbia stated that with the establishment of unity and on the condition that canonical order will prevail throughout the territory of the Serbian Orthodox Church, “the dialogue on the future and final status of the Bishops in North Macedonia is not only possible but appropriate and realistic.”

Finally, he clarified that he will not make the new sister Church subject to restrictive clauses regarding the extent of its jurisdiction within and in the diaspora after the resolution of the status, with the recommendation to resolve the issue of its official name through fraternal dialogue with the Church of Greece and other Local Orthodox Churches.

It is noted that on May 9, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in a surprise move last week, announced that it accepts in Eucharistic communion “the hierarchy, the clergy and the people of this Church under Archbishop Stephen.”A few days earlier, a secret meeting had been held between Patriarch Porfirije of Serbia and the Archbishop of the non-recognized “Macedonian Church”, Stephen, in the city of Nis, where the restoration of relations and the beginning of the dialogue on the final status were agreed. The meeting was revealed by Bishop Photios of Tuzla in his Sunday sermon on May 8.

It is recalled that the Orthodox Church of Skopje seceded in 1967 from the Serbian Patriarchate and declared its autocephaly as the “Macedonian Orthodox Church”, but it was not recognized by any other official Orthodox Church in the world.

In November 2009, the so-called “Macedonian Orthodox Church” added to its name the suffix “Ohrid Archdiocese”, a self-proclaimed successor of the old Ohrid Archdiocese.