By Efi Efthimiou
The Archdiocese of Ohrid is attempting to stand up for what has been taking place lately (and especially since the beginning of the year) around its status.
The Holy Synod of the Church of the neighboring country – which has returned to Eucharistic communion (after decades of isolation) with the other Orthodox Churches just a few months ago and after a relevant decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate – met on Tuesday and issued a statement regarding its declarations of recognition by the other Orthodox Churches.
The Holy Synod of the Bishops of the “Orthodox Church of Macedonia – Ohrid Archdiocese” welcomes the decisions of those Churches that “recognized the Archdiocese as an Autocephalous Church or entered into Eucharistic communion with it.”
The statement says also, “the Macedonian Orthodox Church-Ohrid Archdiocese (MOC-OA) is the custodian of the order and canons that refer to its established name as MOC-OA and its autocephalous status and is guided by its sacred canons, doctrines, sacred scriptures, and sacred tradition”. The Primate and the Bishops-Members of the Holy Synod adhere to them unequivocally, maintain them and do not abandon them.”
This stance is not surprising. We recall that shortly after its recognition by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Archbishop Stefan, in an interview with a Serbian newspaper, pointed out 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”.
And then, however, the Archbishop of Ohrid had thanked Metropolitan Antony of Volokolamsk for the recognition of the “canonical autocephaly by the Russian Orthodox Church” during the recent tour of the Russian hierarch in North Macedonia, with the latter assuring that he would have “the full support of the Moscow Patriarchate”.
The issue is, however, that the decision of the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on May 9, 2022, which “recognizes as the name of this Church the “Ohrid” (meaning the area of this jurisdiction only within the limits of the territory of the state of North Macedonia), as promised in writing to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and its Primate, excluding the term “Macedonian” and any other derivative of the word “Macedonia”, is not heard.
The Churches that have recognized the new ecclesiastical entity in the Balkan country, with the exception of Bulgaria, which is awaiting a pan-Orthodox decision on the name issue, do not refer to the “Ohrid Archdiocese” when speaking about the Church of the neighboring country, on the contrary, they include names that include the name “Macedonia”.