Constantinople, May 31, 2018
In its session yesterday, chaired by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople undertook to consider the status of the currently-unrecognized and schismatic Macedonian Orthodox Church, Romfea reports.
The Synod’s decision came in response to a written appeal from the Macedonian church, with the support of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, asking for the regularization of the church’s canonical status. He also asked for an approval of the name “The Archdiocese of Ohrid,” which was an autocephalous Church existing from 1019-1767.
The city of Ohrid is located in present-day Macedonia, although the Serbian Orthodox Church currently has a canonical bishop serving there, Archbishop Jovan (Vraniskovsky), who was persecuted and imprisoned for many years after he left the schismatic Macedonian church to join the Serbian Orthodox Church, from which the Macedonian church had originally schismed in 1967.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate has decided to step into this issue, as it sees itself as the Mother Church for all Balkans Orthodox Churches. The Macedonian church appealed to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church to help it restore canonical communion with the Orthodox Churches of the world, which the Bulgarian Church agreed to do—a move that has upset the Serbian, Greek, and Constantinopolitan Churches.
“This action of the sister Church of Bulgaria was wrong” Patriarch Bartholomew said in April. “It won’t help. It complicates the situation. The Mother Church for all Balkans peoples is Constantinople. True history speaks to this.”
However, the Bulgarian Church has recently made clear that although it wants to help the Macedonian church, it will not do so at the expense of a schism within the 15 autocephalous Churches that are already in communion.
The Synod in Constantinople is taking up this issue and taking appropriate measures “under the essential conditions of the observance of the historical-canonical powers and privileges of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”
The Macedonian issue has obvious parallels with the ongoing issue of Ukrainian Orthodoxy. President Petro Poroshenko, with the backing of the Ukrainian Parliament and the hierarchs of the nation’s two schismatic Orthodox bodies, also recently appealed to Constantinople for the granting of a tomos of autocephaly. The Synod has said it will initiate dialogue on the matter with the other autocephalous Orthodox Churches of the world.
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