Bulgarian Church will consider “Macedonian Church” issue after final approval of republic’s new name

Sofia, January 23, 2019

Photo: romfea.gr Photo: romfea.gr

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church will further consider the issue of the “Macedonian Orthodox Church” after the adoption and recognition of the final new name of the former Yugoslav republic, His Holiness Patriarch Neofit of Bulgaria told reporters, reports Romfea.

“The question of the name of the Macedonian state is still under development. When the details are clarified, the question of the Church will undoubtedly follow,” the Bulgarian primate said.

The Macedonian Parliament has ratified the constitutional amendment that will pave the way for changing the country’s name to “The Republic of Northern Macedonia” as part of the Prespa agreement. The Greek Parliament has yet to vote on it. The Prespa Agreement, signed by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, was announced on June 12. Much of the Greek population and many representatives of the Greek Orthodox Church and Mt. Athos continue to strongly protest the name “Macedonia” being used in the republic’s name in any way, arguing that Macedonia is and always has been Greek.

Patriarch Bartholomew has also said that he will never recognize the schismatic “Macedonian Orthodox Church” as long as the name “Macedonian” is included in its title.

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.

However, the Bulgarian Church has repeatedly affirmed that it will not cause a schism in the Orthodox world over the Macedonian issue.

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.”

The Patriarchate then said that it will not grant autocephaly because Macedonia is the canonical territory of the Serbian Church—although such concerns did not prevent the Patriarchate interfering in the canonical territory of the Ukrainian Church.

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