Balamand, Lebanon, October 19, 2022
The Antiochian Orthodox Church is the latest Local Church to officially recognize and enter into communion with the Macedonian Orthodox Church-Ohrid Archbishopric.
The MOC was previously in schism from the Serbian Patriarchate and the broader Orthodox Church for a span of 55 years. Beginning in 2017, it launched a concerted effort to resolve its status. Finally, the Serbian Bishops’ Council announced in May that the Macedonian Church was being received back into the Serbian Church with the status of broad autonomy, then on June 5, His Holiness Patriarch Porfirije granted the MOC a tomos of autocephaly during a concelebration in Belgrade.
The statement issued by the Antiochian Holy Synod following its session held in Balamand, Lebanon, over the past week under the chairmanship of His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East reads:
The Fathers gave thanks to God, expressing their joy for the return of the Orthodox Church in the Republic of North Macedonia to the eucharistic communion with the universal Orthodox Church. They also expressed their aspiration that the general Orthodox consensus about the name and legal status of this Church will be reached as soon as possible.
Thus far, the canonicity of the MOC has been formally recognized by the Synods of the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Bulgaria, and Russia, and the Church of Greece. Among these, the Synod of the Russian Church explicitly recognized the MOC as both canonical and autocephalous.
Both the Bulgarian and Greek Churches also mentioned, as does the Antiochian Synod, the issue of the name of the MOC. The Greeks object to the name “Macedonian,” while the Bulgarian Church rejects to the name “Ohrid Archbishopric,” as it understands itself as the modern-day successor to the historical Ohrid Archbishopric. Moreover, while recognizing the canonicity of the MOC, the Greek Church explicitly rejects its autocephaly, arguing that only Constantinople can grant autocephaly.
MOC hierarchs and clergy have also concelebrated with hierarchs and clergy from the Churches of Jerusalem, Romania, Ukraine, the Czech Lands and Slovakia, and the Orthodox Church in America, though their Synods have not formally addressed the issue.
The Antiochian Synod also formally accepted the resignation of Metropolitan Joseph, the former head of the Archdiocese of North America, at its recent session.