The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) – the leading voice of the Macedonian diaspora, congratulates all Macedonian Orthodox practitioners in Macedonia and throughout the world celebrating the conferring of autocephaly to the Macedonian Orthodox Church – Ohrid Archbishopric, by the Serbian Orthodox Church.
UMD is pleased and cautiously optimistic that the autocephaly of the Macedonian Orthodox Church – Ohrid Archbishopric will be ratified and sanctified soon. This act will reverse 255 years of subordination and restore the Macedonian Orthodox Church – Ohrid Archbishopric to its autonomous and rightful equal status amongst the Orthodox churches in the world.
On May 24th, Macedonian Archbishop Stefan, and the Serbian Patriarch Porfirije conducted a joint liturgy in the St. Clement of Ohrid Cathedral, in Skopje, Macedonia, on the holiday celebrating the life and accomplishments of Saints Cyril and Methodius, our beloved Macedonian Byzantine brothers, theologians and missionaries who spread the Christian faith and the Cyrillic alphabet throughout Eastern Europe.
“And now we bring you one more piece of good news – that the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church has unanimously met the pleas of the Macedonian Orthodox Church and has accepted and recognized its autocephaly,” declared Serbian Patriarch Porfirije. “We are sure that all other churches will receive this news with joy.”
Archbishop Stefan responded with the words, “Let God allow that this act of love be eternal.”
This decision takes place on the cusp of the 55th anniversary of the self-declared restoration of the Ohrid Archbishopric in 1967 by Macedonian Church leaders. Earlier this month, a historic decision was made by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, presided over by Bartholomew I, to end the long schism with the Macedonian Orthodox Church – Ohrid Archbishopric. However, the announcement fell short of recognizing “Macedonia” or any derivatives such as “Macedonian,” only referred to the church as the “Church of Ohrid.”
Macedonian Archbishop Stefan will travel to Istanbul on June 12th for a joint liturgy with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
Tuesday’s joint liturgy by Macedonian Archbishop Stefan and the Serbian Patriarch Porfirije symbolizes the recognition of the Macedonian Orthodox Church – Ohrid Archbishopric, as the direct and only successor to the medieval Ohrid Archbishopric, also known as the Ohrid Patriarchate.
In 1767, the Ottoman Sultan abolished the Ohrid Archbishopric unilaterally, without cause or legitimate justification, and transferred its dioceses to the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. For 255 years neighboring countries of Macedonia have each tried to lay claim to the Ohrid Archbishopric and have disputed the Macedonian Orthodox Church, faith and perpetuated the schism.
UMD has long advocated for the recognition of the Macedonian Orthodox Church as the direct and only legitimate successor to the Ohrid Archbishopric, and for Macedonian Orthodox followers in Albania, Bulgaria, and Greece to freely practice their religious faith without prejudice or persecution.
“I came across a poignant quote the other day: Wiser than Solomon, stronger than Samson, more patient than Jobe, and I would add more courageous than Alexander…that to me represents what the Macedonian peoples have had to become in order to continue to exist, which is why we will persevere regardless,” said UMD Advisory Council Member Mark Mitskovski, whose family has been involved since 1958 in the restoration efforts of the Macedonian Orthodox Church-Ohrid Archbishopric in the Republic of Macedonia and abroad with the creation of the American-Canadian Macedonian Orthodox Diocese.
In 2010, UMD met with representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul, and subsequently, as an informal member of the International Religious Freedom Roundtable in Washington, D.C. urged support and recognition of the Macedonian Orthodox Church.