The decision by the Constantinople Ecumenical Patriarchate on Monday to recognise North Macedonia’s church as the “Church of Ohrid” was discussed in a meeting between the country’s Prime Minister and its Archbishop Stefan in Skopje on Tuesday.
A meeting of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, chaired by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, said that North Macedonia’s church, led by Archbishop Stefan, is recognised as canonical and valid in the entire Orthodox world.
The Patriarch added that canonical and liturgical unity is established with it and the faithful.
Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski called this decision historic and he added that it was expected.
He also congratulated Stefan on the fact that, as Phanar said, it accepts the hierarchy, the clergy and the people of the Church under Archbishop Stefan in Eucharistic communion, and that they are no longer at odds with the Orthodox world.
In its statement, the Ecumenical Patriarchate noted that the name “Macedonia” and all its derivatives were excluded, and that the country’s church is now recognised only by the name “Ohrid”.
The Church of Serbia must now settle administrative issues with the Church in North Macedonia, added the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The Skopje Orthodox Church seceded from the Serbian Patriarchate in 1967 and proclaimed itself the “Macedonian Orthodox Church”, but was not recognised by any other official Orthodox church.
In November 2009, the so-called Macedonian Orthodox Church added to its name the suffix “Archdiocese of Ohrid”, a self-proclaimed successor of the old Archdiocese of Ohrid.
On Tuesday, North Macedonia’s Holy Synod thanked Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for the decision.
This is a knife in the back of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, for which the Ohrid Archbishopric is part of the historical and spiritual space, as well as the oldest Bulgarian church institution, theologians commented.
Years ago, the MOC demanded that the Bulgarian Orthodox Church be declared their mother church, but as soon as a commission was formed at the Holy Synod of the BOC on the issue, bishops from northern Macedonia began seeking direct assistance from the Ecumenical Patriarchate.