Bucharest, February 10, 2023
Updated 2/13/23, 4:45 PM
The canonicity and autocephaly of the Macedonian Orthodox Church-Ohrid Archbishopric has been officially recognized by the Holy Synod of another Local Orthodox Church.
Meeting in Bucharest yesterday under the chairmanship of His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel, the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church resolved:
To approve the recognition of the autocephaly granted to the Church in the Republic of North Macedonia under the name of “Archdiocese of Ohrid and North Macedonia, with headquarters in Skopje” by the Patriarchate of Serbia by its Synodal Tomos issued on June 5, 2022. Its Primate will be commemorated with the title “His Beatitude Archbishop Stefan of Ohrid, Skopje and North Macedonia.”
Macedonian and Romanian hierarchs had already concelebrated in Sweden in October.
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 and 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.
On February 13, the Romanian Church’s Basilica News Agency issued a follow-up statement, explaining that the Romanian Synod recognizes the right of a Mother Church to grant autocephaly to its daughter Church, while recognition of that autocephaly belongs to the whole Church, eventually in the form of a tomos signed by all primates without distinction:
On February 9, 2023, the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church approved the recognition of the autocephaly granted to the Orthodox Church in the Republic of North Macedonia by the Patriarchate of Serbia through its synodal tomos issued on June 5, 2022.
During the synodal session, the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of May 9, 2022, to restore canonical and Eucharistic communion with the Orthodox Church of the Republic of North Macedonia, led by Archbishop Stefan, was taken into account. Furthermore, the Ecumenical Patriarchate entrusted the Church of Serbia with the regulation of administrative aspects concerning the organisation of the new Church in North Macedonia.
Another topic considered by the Romanian hierarchs was the issue of autocephaly and the means by which it is granted and recognised, which was analysed during several working meetings of the Inter-Orthodox Committee for the preparation of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church.
The point of view of the Romanian Orthodox Church regarding autocephaly, which was also presented at the Meeting of the Preparatory Committee of the Holy and Great Council in Chambesy (2011), is as follows:
“The Holy Synod of the mother Church is the canonical authority that can grant autocephaly to a daughter Church through a synodal tomos signed by the Primate of the mother Church together with all the bishops of that Holy Synod. The recognition of the new autocephaly belongs to the entire Orthodox Church, achieved through a tomos of recognition of autocephaly signed, without any distinction, by all the Primates of the autocephalous Orthodox Churches, in the order of the Diptychs, within the Synaxis of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches.”
Given this information, the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church respected the decisions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to receive into Eucharistic communion the hierarchs, clerics, monastics and believers pastored by Archbishop Stefan and to leave it to the Patriarchate of Serbia to regulate the administrative aspects between the two Churches.
After recognising the initial synodal tomos issued on June 5, 2022, by the Patriarchate of Serbia granting autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in the Republic of North Macedonia, the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church expects the Ecumenical Patriarchate to initiate (consultations) and issue a final tomos of autocephaly to express a pan-Orthodox consensus on this topic of autocephaly recognition.