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Nordmakedonien: Faithful demand recognition of autocephaly, name, and diaspora

05. April 2023

The status of the Macedonian Orthodox Church-Ohrid Archbishopric was finally decided by the tomos of autocephaly granted by the Serbian Orthodox Church last year, reads a declaration-petition circulating among the Macedonian faithful. The petition, which calls for the Holy Synod to defend the Church’s full name, autocephalous status, and its diaspora dioceses, has the official backing of at least one diocese—the diaspora Diocese of Australia and New Zealand. The tomos from the Serbian Church placed no limitations on the MOC’s right to have diaspora dioceses, like the majority of Local Churches, and it didn’t dictate a name to the MOC, but rather called on it to work out its name in concert with the fullness of Orthodoxy.

Conversely, when the Patriarchate of Constantinople recognized the MOC as canonical, it demanded that it stop referring to itself as “Macedonian,” and dictated that it be confined to the borders of North Macedonia. The MOC would thus lose its four diaspora dioceses in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, which would presumably be transferred to Constantinople. The Church of Greece explicitly follows Constantinople’s requirements, and rejects the MOC’s autocephalous status. Several other Local Churches have accepted the MOC’s autocephaly, though a few accept it only as autonomous.

His Eminence Archbishop Stefan of Ohrid, the primate of the MOC, has suggested that the Greek-speaking Churches can refer to the MOC-OA simply as the Ohrid Archbishopric, while it will continue to refer to itself by its full name of Macedonian Orthodox Church-Ohrid Archbishopric. This option is specifically rejected in the declaration-petition. At the same time, the Bulgarian Church understands itself as the continuation of the historic Ohrid Archbishopric, and thus rejects that title for the MOC-OA, though it does recognize its full autocephaly. The MOC Holy Synod issued a statement in February about guarding the Church’s name and autocephalous status, though it’s known that at least one Macedonian bishop is inclined to accept the dictates of Constantinople.

The declaration-petition posted on the site of the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand reads:

1. As an Orthodox Christian, I claim that I work and will work until the end of my earthly life in the interest of the Macedonian Orthodox Church-Ohrid Archbishopric.

2. In all my living and behavior, as an Orthodox Christian I will witness the Orthodox Faith, the Macedonian nation, language and culture and everything else that makes the Macedonian special, in the true sense of the word, that distinguishes us with all the special qualities and virtues as a people, Church, and nation, especially today when our Church and national identity is threatened by para-church and para-national groups and communities.

3. I unconditionally confirm that I will never deviate from the name of our Church: Macedonian Orthodox Church-Ohrid Archbishopric with the addition of Justiniana Prima, according to the title of our Archbishop.

4. I reject a name for internal and external use except for its statutory name: Macedonian Orthodox Church-Ohrid Archbishopric.

5. I reject any attempt to change the title of the head of the MOC-OA in relations with other Local Churches and with everyone, in the homeland and the world, except: Archbishop of Ohrid and Macedonia and Justiniana Prima.

6. The MOC-OA is the sole owner of all churches and monasteries in the state of Macedonia, as well as churches and monasteries in Macedonian Orthodox dioceses outside the borders of the state of Macedonia.

7. The dioceses of the MOC-OA and those that due to a more successful mission will be created outside the homeland are and can be solely under the jurisdiction of the MOC-OA.

8. I believe that the Macedonian Church issue has been resolved by the conciliar Tomos on autocephaly of the Macedonian Orthodox Church-Ohrid Archbishopric from the Serbian Orthodox Church-Peć Patriarchate of June 5, 2022, as an official document that confirms the organization and borders according to the canonical order of the MOC-OA , and which all Orthodox autocephalous Local Churches should unconditionally accept.

9. I call, support, and encourage the Holy Synod of Bishops of the MOC-OA to unity in defense of the name and status of the MOC-OA, in accordance with the statutes of the MOC-OA and all the decisions of the Archdiocesan-Church People’s Councils since its restoration, up to today .

10. I warn that no one has the right to deviate and work against the above declared and I declare that I will take categorical action against all those who dare to work against the interests, dignity, name, status, and statutory organization of the MOC-OA.

(Quelle:, 2. April 2023)