The Europeans of the Enlightenment called the complex political maneuvers, “Byzantine”, it was a jibe aimed at Eastern Hellenism which they considered backward. In stark contrast to this criticism, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople ended a seven-decade schism with the North Macedonian Orthodox Church.
Patriarch Bartholomew recognized the Church of North Macedonia as “the Church of
Ohrid. At the same time, he excluded “the term ‘Macedonian’ and any other derivative of the word ‘Macedonia'”.
In mid-May, Bartholomew welcomed “the hierarchy, clergy and people of this Church under Archbishop Stefan.”
On May 10, Archbishop Stefan of Ohrid joined Patriarch Bartholomew in a co-liturgy at St. George’s Church in Phanari – headquarters of the Ecumenical Greek Orthodox Church – and then visited Halki Theological School.
Barthélemy said: “We regret to have to speak about us, but it is necessary to reveal the truth.
Bartholomew in a statement said the recognition “heals the wound of schism and pours oil and wine” into the wound of the Orthodox brothers and sisters there.”
He clarified that it was up to the Church of Serbia to settle the administrative problems between it and the Church of North Macedonia.
Addressing the Archbishop of Ohrid, Bartholomew stressed that “it is time to review the ecclesiology of self-sufficiency and misunderstood introversion.
He said that the terminology of Slavic and Greek Orthodoxy is not a dilemma. And added that the Orthodox Church is one. “We can’t afford to be petty. You know better than anyone how much stubborn obsessions cost,” said Patriarch Bartholomew.
He then appealed to the Archbishop of Ohrid to entrust custody of her to the Mother Church.
In a response, Archbishop of Ohrid Stefanos said he had entrusted his church to the “responsibility of the Mother Church for the good and prosperity of the Orthodox family.”
In a statement, Bishop Stefanos also thanked the Serbian Patriarchate for resolving the administrative issues after their recognition by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The Church of Serbia granted autocephaly to the Church of North Macedonia and to Archbishop Stefanos of Ohrid in an official document, which was recognized as a sign that the Church was “worthy of being granted autocephaly.
Recognition of the North Macedonian Church had been blocked by the Serbian Orthodox Church. North Macedonian President Stevo Pendarovski and Prime Minister Dimitar Kovačevski turned to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Constantinople (Istanbul), seeking his intervention to end the crisis. They asked the patriarch to grant autocephalous recognition to the church in North Macedonia.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew thanked the Prime Minister of North Macedonia for his presence at the Phanari.
Relations between North Macedonia and Greece have thawed since the resolution of nomenclature issues that eased the way for the reconciliation of the two churches.
Prime Minister Kovačevski expressed his “warm thanks to the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Archbishop of Ohrid” and spoke of “a great historic day”.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Australia agreed in March to come under the leadership of Archbishop Makarios, the Archbishop of Australia, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople hopes the Church of Ohrid will also be willing to place under the wing of the Orthodox Church. Archdiocese of Australia.
It is unclear what impact the newfound friendship between the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Church of North Macedonia will have on the Macedonian community in northern Australia.
The test will be whether Australia’s clergy and laity in North Macedonia agree to change the name from the “Macedonian Orthodox Church” to the Church of Ohrid.
Clearly, Archbishop of Ohrid Stefan and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew hope the rapprochement will find fertile ground among the Greek and Macedonian diaspora communities in the North.