The Serbian Orthodox Church decided today to recognize the independence of the Orthodox Church in North Macedonia. The SOC patriarch Porfirije announced the news in Skopje, emphasizing that the decision was made unanimously at the recent Holy Assembly of Bishops of the SOC.
The decision arrived only days after the Ecumenical Patriarchate recognized the Ohrid Bishopric with no mention of Macedonia in its name, noting that the status issue should be resolved with the SOC.
In order to become self-autonomous, the MOC needs to receive consent from its canonic church, in this case the SOC.
The SOC, however, soon approved canonical unity with the Ohrid Bishopric, authorizing the MOC the widest possible autocephaly.
The recognition of the MOC’s independence marked a canonical end of the half-century-long rift between the SOC and its former branch – which called itself the Macedonian Orthodox Church – but one that the Serbian Orthodox Church has not recognized until today.
“The Holy Assembly of Bishops of the SOC has unanimously decided to meet the request of the Macedonian Orthodox Church – Archbishopric of Ohrid and bless, accept and recognize autocephaly,” the Patriarch Porfirije said in a church in Skopje today. The patriarch’s announcement was met by a warm round of applause of the gathered Macedonian priests.
The Serbian patriarch described the announcement as “joyful news” and “God’s miracle,” noting that the flame of love that is shared actually multiplies and gets bigger despite the borders.
When we share the flame of love, we do not become poor, on the contrary, the flame then turns into fire and covers the whole tissue, it becomes bigger and wider. And in this moment, our hearts are filled with grace with your love, your prayers, your calmness and joy, and it has spread to the heavens, to the extent that we found a place for all of you in our hearts
The Holy Assembly of Bishops of the SOC and its Macedonian counterpart now need to work out technical and organizational details, after which the autocephaly will be made official, the patriarch explained.
All local Orthodox Churches will then be informed „according to their canonical order and invited to accept the autocephalous status of the MOC – Ohrid Bishopric,“ the patriarch said.
The Patriarch repeatedly underlined that the God is the one that sets borders, which are overcome through “brotherly love.”
„Although God draws boundaries, they are changing, they have changed and five of them will surely change, but the Church of Christ is the only thing that does not change, it is eternal, it is a pillar and a fortress of truth,“ the patriarch said.
Your love and your prayers helped to overcome temptations and allowed God to work miracles, to show, to understand that we need each other, that we cannot do without each other, that we are one body, that we are one in Christ
In addition to Patriarch Porfirije, the SOC delegation in North Macedonia also included Metropolitan Joanikije of Montenegro and the Littoral, Bishop Vasilije of Srem, Bishop Irinej of Backa, Bishop Fotije of Zvornik and Tuzla and Bishop David of Krusevac.
Before Patriarch Porfirije announced the news in Skopje today, the terms used in recent days by both the Serbian Orthodox Church and the pro-governmental media, when the SOC and the MOC were referred to as „two sister churches“, practically announced that the Serbian Orthodox Church recognizes the MOC independence.
The next step in the full recognition of the MOC is to be entitled by the Fannar.
Archbishop Jovan could pay a visit to Fannar as early as the beginning of June.
The name of this church remains to be determined, bearing in mind the latest decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to recognize the church as the Ohrid Bishopric, and taking into account the number of monasteries which will fall under the jurisdiction of the MOC.
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