Serbian structure in N. Macedonia dissolved, hierarchs integrated into autocephalous Macedonian Church

Belgrade, May 22, 2023

Abp. Stefan, primate of the MOC (center), Met. Jovan, previously of the SOC’s Ohrid Archbishopric (right). Photo: Abp. Stefan, primate of the MOC (center), Met. Jovan, previously of the SOC’s Ohrid Archbishopric (right). Photo:     

The Bishops’ Council of the Serbian Orthodox Church met from May 14 to 20 this year. The Council is a larger body of the Holy Synod, with the participation of every hierarch of the Serbian Patriarchate.

One of the main topics the hierarchs dealt with was the canonical status of the Serbian Church’s Ohrid Archdiocese, with its four hierarchs, which continued to exist in North Macedonia even after the Macedonian Orthodox Church-Ohrid Archbishopric returned to communion with the Church after decades of schism and was granted autocephalous status last year.

The Holy Synod of the Macedonian Church voted last month to receive and integrate the Serbian Church hierarchs into the MOC.

And now that decision has been confirmed by the Serbian Bishops’ Council, reports the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The Council’s press release states:

At this year’s session of the Bishops’ Council, special attention was paid to the topic of the final resolution of the canonical status of the hierarchs of the Orthodox Ohrid Archdiocese in light of the Bishops’ Council’s decision last year to return to the Macedonian Orthodox Church-Ohrid Archbishopric to canonical status and establish liturgical unity, and the subsequent decision to grant a tomos of autocephaly. To this end, the Council decided to grant a canonical release to the hierarchy of this autonomous Church by the Serbian Orthodox Church and integrate it into the Synod of the Macedonian Orthodox Church in accordance with the sacred canons and statutes of our two Local Churches, as well as the previously reached agreement of the Synods of all three Church structures .

The Council also expressed its grief and offered its condolences over the two tragic shootings that took place in Serbia earlier this month. And as previously reported, the hierarchs made a statement on the situation in Kosovo.

The Council discussed the state persecution of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and “once again raises its voice in defense of disenfranchised and persecuted brothers of the same faith, appealing to the relevant international institutions to prevent this injustice.”

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