By Efi Efthimiou
The Church of Romania proceeded in a move that constitutes abandonment of the neutrality it had observed on the Ukrainian issue, but also a move away from the canonical tradition of the right to grant autocephaly.
The Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Romania, which met yesterday, proceeded to the recognition of the “Autocephaly” granted to the Church of North Macedonia by the Patriarchate of Serbia.
Ignoring the fact that the right to grant autocephaly to the Orthodox Church is held by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and… pouring water on the “mill” of the Church of Russia, the Romanian Patriarchate announced that it “approves the recognition of the autocephaly granted to the Church of North Macedonia under the name of the Archdiocese of Ohrid and North Macedonia based in Skopje by the Patriarchate of Serbia with the Synodal Tomos issued on June 5, 2022. Its Primate will be commemorated with the title His Beatitude Archbishop Stefan Ohrid, Skopje, and North Macedonia.”
With this move, the Patriarchate of Romania, like the Patriarchate of Serbia, overturns centuries-old traditions in the Orthodox Church and directly challenges the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as the only body responsible for granting autocephaly.
It is also characteristic that with this move, the Church of Romania complicates things even more regarding the issue of the name of the Church in North Macedonia.
In particular, in the statement issued by the Ecumenical Patriarchate last May in which it accepted in Eucharistic communion “the hierarchy, the clergy and the people of this Church under Archbishop Stefan”, it explicitly stated that it excludes the term “Macedonian” and any other derivative of the word “Macedonia” and recognizes the name of the Church as “Ohrid”.
The Patriarchate of Moscow, for its part, referred to the “Macedonian Orthodox Church of the Ohrid Archdiocese” when it recognized last May the “Autocephaly” of the Ohrid Archdiocese given by the Church of Serbia.
Today, the Patriarchate of Romania comes to recognize the Archdiocese of Ohrid, with a third -different- name, causing even more confusion around the status of the Church of North Macedonia.
Read below the announcement of the Patriarchate of Romania
On Thursday, February 9, 2023, the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church met for a working session at “Patriarch Teoctist” Aula Magna of the Patriarchal Palace under the chairmanship of Patriarch Daniel.
The Holy Synod elected by secret ballot the Very Reverend Archimandrite Gherontie Ciupe as assistant bishop to the Diocese of Deva and Hunedoara. The new hierarch will bear the title of His Grace Assistant Bishop Gherontie of Hunedoara. His ordination to the episcopacy will take place in Deva on Sunday, February 19, 2023.
During the same working session, the Holy Synod resolved the following:
- To declare 2024 as a Solemn Year of the pastoral care of the sick and a Commemorative Year of All Holy Unmercenary Healers in the Romanian Patriarchate;
- To approve the program of the International Meeting of Orthodox Youth (ITO 2023), which will take place in Timisoara between August 31 and September 3, 2023;
- To approve the text of the Akathist to Saint Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia (December 2) and to include it in all liturgical books of the Romanian Orthodox Church;
- To approve the text of the service of Saints Barsanuphius and John of Gaza (February 6) and to include it in the liturgical books of the Romanian Orthodox Church;
- To approve the recognition of the autocephaly granted to the Church in the Republic of North Macedonia under the name of “Archdiocese of Ohrid and North Macedonia, with headquarters in Skopje” by the Patriarchate of Serbia by its Synodal Tomos issued on June 5, 2022. Its Primate will be commemorated with the title “His Beatitude Archbishop Stefan of Ohrid, Skopje and North Macedonia”;
- To organise at the level of the Romanian Patriarchate a fundraising campaign for the victims affected by the recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria.
Concerning the situation of the Romanian Orthodox parishes in the Northern Bukovina area, under the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church firmly maintains its stance in favour of respecting the rights and freedoms of Romanian communities throughout Ukraine, just as Ukrainians are respected throughout Romania.
The Holy Synod took note of the results of the social-philanthropic activity of the Romanian Orthodox Church in the year 2022, which indicate a sum of 339,925,775 RON (approximately 69 million euros), including the amount of 42,904,050 RON (approximately 8,7 million euros) offered to support refugees from Ukraine.
Photography courtesy of Basilica.ro / Mircea Florescu