Serbian Church to reopen dialogue with Macedonian church; Constantinople reportedly to examine the issue as well

Belgrade, May 16, 2019

The Council of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Photo: The Council of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Photo:     

The Council of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, including every hierarch of the Church, which is currently in session, decided yesterday to resume negotiations on the resolution of the status of the schismatic “Macedonian Orthodox Church” and conversations with its representatives, reports the Serbian newspaper Politika.

The question about the Macedonian church was the sole topic at yesterday’s session, the paper reports. The implementation of the decision was assigned to the Holy Synod.

The Serbian Church had not wanted to initiate a resumption of the dialogue while His Eminence Archbishop Jovan, a canonical hierarch, remained in jail in Macedonia, but he was released in 2015 and now freely participates in the sessions of the Council of Bishops of the Serbian Church.

Several sites, including Politika, Romfea, and Nova Makedonija also report that the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople discussed the Macedonian issue at its May 7-9 session. The Macedonian government and church appealed to Constantinople last May to grant autocephaly to the church, after the church had turned to the Bulgarian Church for assistance in regulating its canonical status the previous November.

No other details were released by Constantinople, though this information led to speculation that Constantinople would take an active role in resolving the Macedonian church’s canonical status and that the process towards autocephaly had begun. Mixed signals have come from the Patriarchate, as Patriarch Bartholomew initially declared that they would handle the matter, but later stated that the matter is purely one for the Serbian Church, as it was from the Serbian Church that the Macedonians had split in 1967.

Pat. Bartholomew previously recognized the canonical Ukrainian Church’s jurisdiction over Ukraine and its right and responsibility to handle the schismatic question there, but changed his mind when the Ukrainian government appealed to him for autocephaly last April.

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