Belgrade, June 6, 2022
His Holiness Patriarch Porfirije of the Serbian Orthodox Church handed His Eminence Archbishop Stefan of Ohrid a tomos during the Divine Liturgy in Belgrade yesterday, thus fully confirming the autocephaly of the Macedonian Orthodox Church-Ohrid Archbishopric.
The decision to grant autocephaly was initially announced May 24 at a joint Serbian-Macedonian Liturgy in Skopje, which came just a week after the Macedonian Church was received back into the Serbian Church after 55 years of schism.
This marks the first time since the Antiochian Church granted autocephaly to the Georgian Church in the 5th century that a Local Church other than Constantinople or Moscow has granted autocephaly.
At the same time, the Macedonian tomos notes that their autocephaly must be submitted for approval to the other Local Churches of the Orthodox Church, and a new statement from the Macedonian Church indicates that it will defer to Constantinople.
The text of the tomos was published by the Macedonian Diocese of Australia and New Zealand:
Porfirije, by the grace of God, Archbishop of Peć, Metropolitan of Belgrade and Karlovac and Serbian Patriarch, with the holy hierarchs of the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church, grants to His Beatitude Archbishop Stefan of Ohrid and Macedonia, in accordance with the sacred and holy and established canonical order of the Most Holy Orthodox Church of Christ, and especially in accordance with the 34th Canon of the Holy Apostles, and based on Decision 55.65 of the Holy Bishops’ Council of the SOC of May 7 of the current year, which fulfills the petition of the Holy Synod of Hierarchs of the Macedonian Orthodox Church-Orchid Archbishopric, (SAS No. 65 of May 18 of the current year) and to the Church to which it refers, autonomous within the Serbian Patriarchate, the canonical status of an autocephalous Orthodox Church, thus blessing, granting, and recognizing the requested canonical status of an autocephalous Orthodox Church, with the Synod entrusting the Bishops’ Council of the SOC to resolve the necessary technical and organizational issues, after which the Serbian Patriarch will officially and publicly announce the above Synodal Decision, sign the corresponding tomos, and submit it to all sister autocephalous Churches for adoption, because the SOC is not the only factor for autocephaly, but rather the fullness of the Orthodox Church, which is why the reception of other Orthodox Churches is also needed.
And bearing in mind the new Church-historical and other circumstances and with the primary goal that the Christ-named people of God enjoy the greatest spiritual benefit and progress on the path of salvation, as well as the management of Church affairs to take place without difficulties, expediently, canonically and piously, our holy SOC, as the heir of the ancient and glorious Patriarchate of Peć, synodally blesses, approves, grants, and recognizes the autocephalous status of the Church of God in the Republic of North Macedonia, which today is called the Macedonian Orthodox Church, which is the successor of the ancient and glorious Ohrid Archbishopric, and due to which its title includes its honorary name, and which covers the canonical space of the previous and so-named autonomous Church of our Serbian Patriarchate of 1959.
The autocephaly of the new sister Church is full autocephaly, which means that the SOC does not condition it with provisions that limit its canonical jurisdiction and pastoral care for its faithful Orthodox people in their home country and in the diaspora.
At the same time, the SOC warmly recommends His Beatitude the primate and the Holy Synod of the new sister autocephalous Church resolve the issue of its official name through fraternal dialogue with the hellenophone and other Local Orthodox churches.
The holy churches and monasteries, especially the great holy sites from the Nemanjić period and the more recent period of Serbian presence, church constructions and cultural creation, on the territory of today’s North Macedonia, as well as the entire movable and immovable property of the SOC within its borders are ceded to the use of the new sister autocephalous Church.
For the proof, confirmation, and enduring testimony of everything that is thus canonically arranged and determined, to His Beatitude Archbishop Stefan of Ohrid and Macedonia, our beloved brother in the Lord Jesus Christ and concelebrant of Our Humility, with all the Reverend and Most Reverend and God-loving hierarchs gathered him, our beloved brothers and concelebrants in the Holy Spirit, we issue this our Patriarchal and Synodal tomos, the original of which, true and unharmed, is preserved in our holy Patriarchate
We pray to God—for His grace, Who called us to His eternal glory, through Christ Jesus our Lord, by the grace of the Holy Spirit and the prayerful intercession of His Holy Church, to give our youngest sister and autocephalous Church every blessing, every good spiritual fruit in the indissoluble bond of love and unity with the SOC and with all the holy Local Orthodox Churches throughout the world. To Him be the glory, honor, power, and worship, ever glorified in the Trinity, unto the ages of ages. Amen.
To him, always glorified in the Trinity, may it be glory, honor, strength and adoration for ever and ever. Amen.
In the Serbian Patriarchate in Belgrade, on the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council,
May 23/June 5, in the 2022th year of the Lord
Archbishop of Peć, Metropolitan of Belgrade and Karlovac, and Serbian Patriarch, Porfirije, Chairman of the Holy Bishops’ Council of the SOC
There seems to be some level of disagreement within the Macedonian Church on what exactly will or needs to happen next.
It’s known that Abp. Stefan and other Macedonian hierarchs will travel to Istanbul to concelebrate with Patriarch Bartholomew on the feast of Pentecost.
In publishing the text of the tomos, the Australian-New Zealand Diocese of the Macedonian Diocese specifically referred to Constantinople in the title of its article: “The SOC officially recognized the full autocephaly of the MOC-OA with a tomos, and in contrast to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, with no conditional clauses limits its autocephaly and structure in terms of its name, the scope of its jurisdiction in the home country, and the pastoral care for the Macedonian people in the diaspora.”
This refers to Constantinople’s own decision to recognize the Macedonian Church as canonical, which suddenly occurred on May 9, just three days after a Serbian bishop revealed in a homily that negotiations between the Serbian and Macedonian Church were going well and that they hoped to resolve the latter’s caonical status within the month.
According to the decision of the Constantinople Synod, the Macedonian Church is recognized only with the title of the “Ohrid Archbishopric,” as Greeks reject to the use of the word “Macedonian,” and it is deprived of its dioceses abroad, in North America, Europe, and Australia. However, the Serbian Bishops’ Council placed no such restrictions on the Macedonian Church when it received it back into communion, nor do any such restrictions exist in the tomos of autocephaly granted yesterday.
But a statement on the central Macedonian Church site today refers to the tomos from the Serbian Church “as a kind of recommendation with which our holy Church is presented as ready and worthy of autocephaly.”
We inform that in the next period, during the official visit to the Phanar for Pentecost, which we await with great joy, and when our acceptance in the pan-Orthodox liturgical and canonical unity is formalized, the Ecumenical Patriarchate will be informed about the decision of the SOC to close all administrative issues between the two Churches. We express our full-Church hope that in the future, that is, when it will be decided, the finalization of our ecclesiastical question will begin with the issuance of a universally recognized tomos by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, in accordance with his legal and historical prerogatives.