Constantinople changes attitude about autocephaly for Macedonian Church

Constantinople, October 17, 2018

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His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew believes the solution to the problem of the schismatic Macedonian Church is within the competence of the Serbian Orthodox Church, reports Romfea.

With reference to Macedonian media, Romfea reports that Pat. Bartholomew responded to the schismatic Macedonian Church’s written request for autocephaly under the name “Archbishopric of Ohrid” in the negative. “This region is not under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, but is under the jurisdiction of the Serbian Orthodox Church,” the patriarch writes.

The Macedonian Church, which formed as a schism form the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1967, reached out to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in November for assistance in becoming a canonically-recognized autocephalous Church. The Bulgarian Church agreed to help, which greatly angered the Churches of Serbia and Greece, and also the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

The Macedonian Church then appealed to the Ecumenical Patriarchate as well for the regularization of its canonical status, to which it responded that it would take up the issue and take appropriate measures “under the essential conditions of the observance of the historical-canonical powers and privileges of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”

Constantinople has now changed its mind, just after its invasion of the canonical territory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia has been one of the most consistent supporters of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the dispute with Constantinople.

Pat. Bartholomew also said in September that he would not grant autocephaly to the Macedonian Church—based on political reasons—as long as it used “Macedonia” or any derivative thereof in its title.

However, note that Pat. Bartholomew’s letter insists there are no parallels between the Ukrainian and Macedonian situations, arguing that Constantinople never transferred the Kiev Metropolia to the Russian Orthodox Church, while the ecclesiastical provinces that make up the territory of Macedonia today were transferred to the Serbian Church in 1922.

No Orthodox Church in the world accepts Constantinople’s historical arguments that it has always been the Mother Church for Ukraine.

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