By Efi Efthimiou
For… the sake of appearances was, as it seems, the acceptance by the Archdiocese of Ohrid of its name by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, as Archbishop Stefan clarifies that “Ohrid” is the name for the Greek-speaking Churches, and that “we cannot be called anything other than Macedonians”.
It is recalled, however, that the Ecumenical Patriarchate on May 9 proceeded with the recognition of the Church of North Macedonia under the name of Archdiocese of Ohrid while making clear that the term “Macedonian” (church) and any other derivative of the word “Macedonia” are excluded.
In particular, in an interview with a Serbian newspaper, Archbishop Stefan of Ohrid spoke about the name of the Church of North Macedonia.
In the interview, Archbishop Stefan was asked if the name given by the Ecumenical Patriarchate (Archdiocese of Ohrid) is an acceptable name for the Church of the country.
Archbishop Stefan replied that “we know the sensitivity of our name from the Greek-speaking Churches. Therefore, we will not ask them to call us by a name they do not like. Since we are the heirs of the famous Archdiocese of Ohrid, calling us by that name on their part is not a problem for us.
But I am convinced that the brothers and the faithful of the Greek-speaking Orthodox world in general, will understand that we cannot be called anything other than Macedonians, that is, that for us, our Church is both Macedonian and Ohrid.
There will probably be issues to be resolved, but faith and love can move mountains. If both parties show that they act with love, then an agreement will easily be reached between the Greek churches and our own, Macedonian churches.”
When asked when he expects the Church of North Macedonia to receive the Tomos of Autocephaly, he replied that “with several ‘Macedonian‘ Bishops we were in Constantinople and together we celebrated the Divine Liturgy with Patriarch Bartholomew, on the feast of Pentecost, on the birthday of the Church.
I do not know when we could expect an official document for our local Church to pass into the diptych of the Autocephalous Churches, but since we had the opportunity to meet for a few days with the Patriarch and see his love for the Church and his sincere desire to help us, we are convinced that it will be in the near future. We ask the merciful God to give us a little more patience.”