Bulgarian Church recognizes autocephaly of Macedonian Church, but without title “Ohrid”

Sofia, December 20, 2022

Abp. Stefan of Ohrid (left) and Pat. Neofit of Bulgaria (right). Photo: romfea.gr Abp. Stefan of Ohrid (left) and Pat. Neofit of Bulgaria (right). Photo: romfea.gr     

Another Local Church has recognized not only the canonicity of the Macedonian Orthodox Church-Ohrid Archbishopric (MOC) but also its autocephalous status, as granted it by the Serbian Orthodox Church.

At its session on December 13, the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church “accepted with spiritual joy” the tomos of autocephaly given to the MOC on June 5.

The Bulgarian Synod had already accepted the canonicity of the MOC back in June, though without reference to its autocephaly.

In the tomos, the Serbian Church recommends that the MOC “resolve the issue of its official name through fraternal dialogue with the hellenophone and other Local Orthodox Churches.”

Greek-speaking Churches objects to the title “Macedonian,” as Macedonia is also the name of a region in Greece, while the Bulgarian Church objects to the title “Ohrid,” as it understands itself as the continuation of the ancient Ohrid Archbishopric.

Thus, according to the Synodal decision, until a pan-Orthodox decision on the name of the MOC, its primate will be commemorated by His Holiness Patriarch Neofit during the Divine services as “His Beatitude Stefan, Archbishop of North Macedonia.”

Thus, the autocephaly of the MOC is now recognized by the Churches of Russia, Poland, Ukraine, and Bulgaria, in addition to the Serbian Church.

Conversely, the Church of Greece explicitly rejects the MOC’s autocephaly on the grounds that only Constantinople can grant autocephaly, though it nevertheless accepts the MOC as canonical, following the earlier decision of Constantinople.

The Antiochian Patriarchate has also accepted the canonicity of the MOC and entered into communion with it, though with the “aspiration that the general Orthodox consensus about the name and legal status of this Church will be reached as soon as possible.”

MOC hierarchs and clergy have also concelebrated with hierarchs and clergy from the Churches of Jerusalem, Romania, the Czech Lands and Slovakia, and the Orthodox Church in America, though their Synods have not formally addressed the issue.

Thus far, there have no been Synodal decisions from or concelebrations with hierarchs or clergy of the Churches of Alexandria, Georgia, Cyprus, and Albania.

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James12/20/2022 6:14 pm
"Canonicity." Oh, yes, that old technical term of Orthodox theology.
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