Constantinople’s conditions are unacceptable for the Macedonian Church—Metropolitan of Prespa

Prespa, North Macedonia, March 12, 2024   

Photo: Photo: Another hierarch of the Macedonian Orthodox Church-Ohrid Archbishopric is speaking out about the issue of his Church’s autocephaly.

Yesterday, OrthoChristian reported on a recent statement of His Eminence Metropolitan Agathangel of Povardarie in which he firmly defends the full autocephaly and of the MOC-OA, granted by the Serbian Patriarchate, against those who say autocephaly can only come from Constantinople and that the MOC must cease identifying as “Macedonian.”

His Eminence Metropolitan Petar of Prespa and Pelagonia also recently addressed similar issues as a gudest on the show Studio 10 on TV 24, reports the MOC-OA’s site

Referring to the Macedonian Holy Synod’s recent decision to create a commission to “study the status” of the schismatic OCU (which it previously declared it would not concelebrate with), Met. Petar said the issue should be studied completely, because there are clergy and hierarchs of the MOC-OA who do not truly understand what is happening in Ukraine.

With the granting of a tomos to the Ukrainian schismatics by Constantinople, “the problem was not only not solved, but also further complicated,” the hierarch stressed.

Further, “Metropolitan Petar emphasized that it’s necessary to put an end to the notorious lies being promoted in the Macedonian public, that the receipt of a tomos by the Patriarchate of Constantinople is unconditional.”

In fact, Met. Peter explains, there exists an official document with three conditions:

  1. That the MOC-OA be named as simply the Church of Ohrid

  2. That any version of the name “Macedonian” is impermissible, even in communication with Local Orthodox Churches that have no objection to the name “Macedonian Orthodox Church”

  3. That the territory of the MOC-OA be limited to the territory of North Macedonia, which means giving up its diaspora

Met. Petar revealed in an interview last April that Constantinople is so against the idea of the MOC-OA using the title “Macedonian” that it insists it not even refer to itself as such for its own internal uses. However, as stated last February, the MOC Synod explicitly understands itself as the guardian of the Church’s statutory order and norms, including its full name of “Macedonian Orthodox Church-Ohrid Archbishopric.”

And in his recent comments, Met. Petar appealed to Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople that communication between the Churches should go through official channels, and not simply through Bigorsky Monastery and its abbot Bishop Partenij, who is known to a major supporter of the Constantinople within the MOC-OA.

“The rules must be respected; communication must go through the relevant commission, and not through Bp. Partenij, who promises them something that cannot come to pass,” said Met. Petar.

And if Constantinople wants to grant a tomos to the MOC-OA, “it should be without conditions. Otherwise, such a tomos wouldn’t be acceptable to us,” the Metropolitan stressed. Met. Agathangel had stressed precisely that the tomos from the Serbian Church came without any conditions or pressure.

It was unanimously decided at three separate sessions of the Macedonian Synod that the Church will not give up the name of “Macedonian Orthodox Church,” Met. Petar noted. It is acceptable for Greek-speaking Churches to refer to the MOC-OA as simple the “Church of Ohrid,” but the MOC-OA will continue to use its full name internally, he explained.

Regarding the issue of the MOC-OA’s diaspora, consisting of dioceses in Europe, North America, and Australia, Met. Agathangel said in his recent statement that the Church must not “leave its diaspora to those who have not sown there, and therefore have no right to reap.”

Likewise, Met. Petar stated: “The diaspora is ours, we created it. A diaspora is a feature of an autocephalous Orthodox Church.”

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