Prespa, North Macedonia, December 20, 2021
Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople is consistent in his actions, and if he started something, he will see it through, said one bishop of the “Macedonian Orthodox Church” (MOC) when asked about the status of the unrecognized MOC’s search for autocephaly.
Thus, Petar (Karevski), the MOC hierarch of Prespa and Pelagonia, is certain the process of recognition of the MOC by Constantinople will begin soon, he said on North Macedonian television, reports religija.mk.
His comments come just after Pat. Bartholomew received a large MOC delegation in Constantinople to discuss the autocephaly process.
Perhaps this work may be postponed a bit because of the pandemic and other conditions, “but I hope that through his wisdom he will take certain steps as soon as possible so that we as a people and as an Orthodox Church can be just as respected as others because we are not schismatics, as some call us,” the MOC hierarch said.
Recall that the MOC separated from the Serbian Orthodox Church in the 1960s and has been considered schismatic by the Orthodox world ever since, although, unlike the situation in Ukraine where the canonical Church is the largest confession and the schismatics are divided amongst themsleves, the MOC unites the overwhelming majority of the North Macedonian population.
On December 8, OrthoChristian reported that monks of the MOC’s Bigorsky Monastery received Holy Communion at a Liturgy celebrated by Bishop Philotheos of Oreoi, vicar of the Greek primate Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens, although the Greek Church doesn’t canonically recognize the MOC or share canonical communion with it.
OrthoChristian also reported that a MOC delegation met with Pat. Bartholomew and that the discussion went well for the unrecognized church, although the Patriarch stipulated that it must remove the word “Macedonian” from its title if it wants to receive autocephaly.
The story was covered by North Macedonian and other outlets a week later, after which Petar of Prespa was asked about the status of the autocephaly project.
MOC hierarchs, including Petar of Prespa, have repeatedly expressed confidence over the past few years that their negotiations with Pat. Bartholomew will continue to move forward and that they will eventually receive a tomos of autocephaly from him.
North Macedonian politicians have also called upon Constantinople to grant autocephaly to the MOC.