Archbishop of Macedonian Church: “Constantinople’s conditions are unacceptable”

Skopje, May 22, 2024

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The demands of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on the Macedonian Orthodox Church-Ohrid Archbishopric are unacceptable says the Church’s primate.

Though the MOC-OA received a tomos of autocephaly from its Mother Church of the Serbian Patriarchate in June 2022, its independence has not been recognized by all Local Churches, including the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Church of Greece, both of which have specifically pointed to the Church’s name—“Macedonian”—as a problem, as Macedonia is also the name of a region in Greece. Constantinople also expects the MOC to sacrifice its multiple diaspora dioceses.

There is a view among certain Hellenophone Churches and certain other hierarchs that true autocephaly can only be granted by Constantinople.

Asked yesterday by a reporter from Televizija Star when the MOC will receive a tomos from Constantinople, the primate, His Beatitude Archbishop Stefan of Ohrid and Macedonia, said no one knows, so the MOC continues to build relations with other Local Churches in the meantime (see below).

“If they give us the tomos, we’ll accept it, but the conditions that are being set are unacceptable for us,” the Archbishop said, namely, “renouncing the name ‘Macedonian Orthodox Church,’ relinquishing the Macedonian diaspora, and recognizing the Ukrainian church that is recognized by Constantinople.”

“We have our own name; it belongs to us and no one else, and therefore no one should ask us to renounce our name, which is the Macedonian Orthodox Church-Ohrid Archbishopric, hence containing two names,” he said.

“When other Orthodox nations relinquish their diasporas, then we’ll also consider ours, but that question will be difficult to resolve or answer positively in response to the request of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,” he concluded.

Abp. Stefan said in an interview in 2022 that Greek-speaking Churches are welcome to refer to them as the Ohrid Archbishopric if they want, but the MOC will continue to refer to itself by its full name of the Macedonian Orthodox Church-Ohrid Archbishopric.

Several other MOC hierarchs have expressed the same conviction as Abp. Stefan in recent statements, including Metropolitans Timotej of Debar and Kičevo, Agathangel of Povardarie, and Petar of Prespa and Pelagonia.

For its part, the Macedonian Holy Synod announced in February 2023 that it will continue to defend and uphold both its autocephalous status and its name.


Overall, the autocephaly of the Macedonian Church is recognized by the Churches of Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Romania, in addition to the Serbian Church that granted it.

Meanwhile, the Churches of Constantinople, Greece, Antioch, Georgia, and Albania recognize the Macedonian Church as canonical but not autocephalous.

MOC hierarchs and clergy have also concelebrated with hierarchs and clergy from the Churches of Jerusalem and and the Orthodox Church in America, though their Synods haven’t formally addressed the issue.

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

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