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North Macedonian schismatics have just been recognised by the Ecumenical Patriarchate

RaphaCam

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Constantinople has just established communion with the schismatic MOC as an autocephalous "Church of Ohrid" (so it doesn't offend Hellenistic sensitivity, of course). The solely canonical and (unlike the UOC) fully autonomous Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric was not mentioned in the acts.

In the past, the newly independent Principality of Serbia got itself an autocephalous church after careful negotiations with the Ecumenical Patriarch. Apparently, strongarming the synod and repeatedly arresting and harassing canonical clergy works nowadays. By the way, Patriarch Bartholomew's letter to the North Macedonian government asking for the release of Archbishop John VI of Ohrid from prison apparently vanished from the EP's website, unlike similar appeals from the US government and Amnesty International. It's not under a different URL, I double-checked.

For information on the persecution of the Orthodox Church in North Macedonia, see this documentary. All kinds of evil were committed against the Orthodox Church by the government to suppress his activities, from destroying temples to arresting the primate's mom.

Are people who oppose Constantinople's ecclesiology still going to be called shills now? Wait until Archbishop Elpidophoros replaces him.
 
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ICXCNIKA

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I didn't think he recognized them as autocephalous rather canonical. Point will be the same. If he interfered in the internal affairs the Serbian Church will need to respond.
 
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RaphaCam

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— Would you gladly forget [the prison in] Izidrovo and everything that happened to you there, or is there after all something that might be beneficial, if only as a memory?

— Christians should not try to forget things. They should only try to forgive. Pushing aside those negative events that are now history is what people want to do who do not understand life as a struggle. History is the best teacher. We learn the most from what we have experienced ourselves, and it’s not important whether it has brought us joy or sorrow. I consider that before the mystery of life, the one who looks the most serious and responsible is the one who accepts life as joyful sorrow. And so I think the memory of these prison woes is beneficial—of course, not for the sake of woe alone, but for the sake of the joy that goes along with it. Those who have experienced prison know what joy I am talking about.

I didn't think he recognized them as autocephalous rather canonical. Point will be the same. If he interfered in the internal affairs the Serbian Church will need to respond.
That's true.
 

Luke

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Since Constantinople established communion with them, are they still called schismatics?
 

RaphaCam

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Since Constantinople established communion with them, are they still called schismatics?
Yes, it refers more to the spirit of schism. The Bulgarian Exarchate was called schismatic and sometimes even heretical by Constantinople while being officially considered a "parasynagogue", which is one step below schism.
 

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Since Constantinople established communion with them, are they still called schismatics?
Yes and no—it depends on the perspective. This is why it is so important to be careful about terms like schismatic, canonical, etc. Not only do they have specific meanings (eg, canonical primarily means having and adhering to a consistent set of rules, and has *nothing* to do with who you're "in communion" with), but they frequently get thrown around by groups who are trying to legitimize themselves and their followers. This is also why it is terribly inaccurate—and even dangerous—to speak about the EO groups (ie, those that share certain liturgical similarities) as though EO is a denomination: that just leads to more tribalism, more of the "who is in communion with whom" game, and more demonic power plays. If a local Church views legitimacy as coming more from their adherence to certain personalities (even if it is a patriarch with an "endless genealogy", Greek or Slavic or otherwise) rather than being rooted more in their rigid and unbiased adherence to the rule of law—and ultimately to Jesus Christ—then they've already left canonical orthodox Christianity, regardless of how they style themselves.
 

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Since Constantinople established communion with them, are they still called schismatics?
Yes. Only the Serbian Church can receive them back. It seemed that they were having beneficial negotiations but this may have been the EP and its sponsors throwing a wrench in the works to punish Serbia.
 

mcarmichael

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Nice to see Constantinople throwing some weight, anyone ever visit a Quaker church?
 
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I wonder how fellow Greeks feel about this rexognization by the EP, I've known some who dont even recognize any type of name Macedonia.
 

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Macedonian issue is on one hand easier than Ukrainian, on othe hand - more complicated.
Easier, as the autonomous Church under Serbian Patriarchate is relatively new and tiny - over decades there was only one Macedonian Church (the one non recognised) and still vast majority of Orthodox Macedonians belong to it. And I know privately clergy from at least two different Orthodoxo (canonical) local Churches have good relations with Orthodox Macedonian clergy.

More difficult, as because of its complicated history, theoretically 3 Churches can be considred as Mother Church for Macedonia: Constantinople, Serbian, Bulgarian - meanwhile the second one is quite recent thing (but it has some influence like Slava celebrated there and over or some chanting), the 3rd culturally and linguistically have a lot in common. And, of cours, Archbishopric of Ohrid is very old thing and actually the name of it is proper one.

Anyway, I hoped that their issue is solved and before Ukrainian one, but I'm afraid now in those circumstances it may cause a chaos like in Ukraine. Hope not, though. Lord have mercy!
 

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My understanding is that the Serbian Church was/is very close to a breakthrough in their talks with the Macedonians and this was Constantinople's last-minute intervention to attempt to set the terms of the resolution in a way that doesn't impinge on their "exclusive prerogatives".
 

RaphaCam

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More difficult, as because of its complicated history, theoretically 3 Churches can be considred as Mother Church for Macedonia: Constantinople, Serbian, Bulgarian - meanwhile the second one is quite recent thing (but it has some influence like Slava celebrated there and over or some chanting), the 3rd culturally and linguistically have a lot in common.
Additionally, even though the UOC has been generally disfavoured by the Ukrainian government over the last eight years and the OCU was state-backed, the UOC still kept a solid relationship with many of the authorities. The Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, for example, still belongs to the UOC. Things got expectably much sourer over the last few months, sure, but the MOC isn't being bombed by Serbia. Actually it didn't even go to war with Serbia in the 90's (on a side note, I worked for one of the guys responsible for that, very interesting man).

The MOC, on the other hand, has been shamelessly persecuted, and they don't even seem to have powerful friends on the inside.
 

RaphaCam

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Looks like that's what happened: news report and original Serbian text
Glory to God!

On a side note, they had already done it in both 1959 and 2002. The MOC resurged when all hierarchs but now-Archbishop Jovan V of Ohrid were pressured into recanting their adherence to the 2002 resolution. Let's see what will be made of their longsuffering jurisdiction. At least they clearly don't have any problem with canonical obedience.
 

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Video from today's Liturgy celebrated by Serbian patriarch Porphirios and leader of the Macedonian Orthodox Church, archbishop Stefan, Belgrade, st. Sava temple
 

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Archbishop Jovan's words were touching:

I do not know when my joy was greater: when I received the tomos for autonomy for the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric from the hand of Patriarch Pavle or today, when a full liturgical communion is established with all the hierarchs of the MOC-OA. If I had to choose, I would give preference to today's joy, because full Eucharistic unity has been established today with our brothers with whom we were not united.
He also praised Archbishop Stefan for withstanding pressure and avoiding gossip. The hierarch who always presided over the jurisdiction that often took part in and even enticed state persecution, even locking up Archbishop Jovan himself and his own family. This man is a living confessor of the importance of canonicity and unity. May his example shine forth in these terrible times of turmoil.

According to Serbian media, both churches will merge, but Archbishop Jovan himself will retire.

 

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I saw the service and it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. However, there are 3 articles on Romfea that seem to indicate that some people are playing games. So this union might be 1) short lived 2) the calm before the storm



 

RaphaCam

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To sum it all up...

Metropolitan Makarios of Sidirokastro, an EP bishop of Greek Macedonia, saying the EP will establish 23 dioceses within the territory of the SOC if the MOC does keep its diasporic churches. He also refers to North Macedonians by a slur.

Bishop Timotej of Debar-Kichev, who notoriously went from layman to bishop in ten days and is widely regarded as a "shadow archbishop" of the MOC, claiming autocephaly is the endgame and they'll go to the EP if necessary.

President Stevo Pendarovski thanking the EP for the tomos and affirming autocephaly is the endgame without mentioning the SOC's decision.

Well, I think the MOC can only be internally divided.
 

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Metropolitan Makarios of Sidirokastro, an EP bishop of Greek Macedonia, saying the EP will establish 23 dioceses within the territory of the SOC if the MOC does keep its diasporic churches. He also refers to North Macedonians by a slur.
Wait, didn't the Greeks just call the Russians ethnophyletist for going into Africa?
 

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I haven't seen anything from the SOC that would lead me to believe that they would ever consider granting autocephaly to MOC.
 

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The SOC has a long history of letting others go autocephalous if they wanted to. In 1865 the “canonical separation “ of the metropolis of Sibiu was completed. Same goes for Bucovina and Dalmatia.
 

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The SOC has a long history of letting others go autocephalous if they wanted to. In 1865 the “canonical separation “ of the metropolis of Sibiu was completed. Same goes for Bucovina and Dalmatia.
When did Dalmatia split off from the SOC?
 

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When did Dalmatia split off from the SOC?
Same as Bucivina, together they formed on single jurisdiction, under Romanian metropolitans. Had to be that way because both Bucovina and Dalmatia were part of Austria proper, whereas Sibiu was part of Hungary.
 

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Same as Bucivina, together they formed on single jurisdiction, under Romanian metropolitans. Had to be that way because both Bucovina and Dalmatia were part of Austria proper, whereas Sibiu was part of Hungary.
So apparently there's extra background in Patriarch Nicodim of Romania recognising the Croatian schism...
 

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So apparently there's extra background in Patriarch Nicodim of Romania recognising the Croatian schism...
anything-‘s possible, but a certain political affinity is more likely IMO.
 

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It probably amused some canon lawyers, though!
If the official statement is anything to go by, no canon lawyers were within a kilometer of this decision. The distinction between "canonical communion" and "liturgical communion" is news to me, and reeks of a new ecclesiology (well, maybe the same pseudo-Cyprianic nonsense we've been dealing with over the last century). While communion is very good, this seems like 1 step forward and 10 steps back, with lip service paid to canonicity even as agreement is made to "allow" non-canonical jurisdictional overlap abroad, among many other non-canonical practices.
 

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If the official statement is anything to go by, no canon lawyers were within a kilometer of this decision. The distinction between "canonical communion" and "liturgical communion" is news to me, and reeks of a new ecclesiology (well, maybe the same pseudo-Cyprianic nonsense we've been dealing with over the last century). While communion is very good, this seems like 1 step forward and 10 steps back, with lip service paid to canonicity even as agreement is made to "allow" non-canonical jurisdictional overlap abroad, among many other non-canonical practices.
It was a general ironic comment on the abuse of canon lawyering, but referring to Romania's communion with the Croatian state church while both countries were under Axis governments.

What's the issue with "canonical and liturgical communion", though? I understand no distinction should be made, but is there more to it than mere redundance?
 
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What's the issue with "canonical and liturgical communion", though? I understand no distinction should be made, but is there more to it than mere redundance?
I think so. It seems there is an implication being made that two local Churches can be in communion liturgically without being in communion canonically, or that canonicity is some special esoteric status (by "transmission" or by fiat, as opposed to...actually following the Church's canons). Both of those claims would be utterly false, and stand opposed to the Ecumenical Councils themselves.
 

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Just to remind, we have in Orthodox Church some oddities, e.g two Estonian autonomous Churches, two Moldavian autonomous Churches, OCA treated by some as autonomous and some as autocehpalous, differenes in order of dypticha etc. And all of this doesn't break Communion.
 

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Just to remind, we have in Orthodox Church some oddities, e.g two Estonian autonomous Churches, two Moldavian autonomous Churches, OCA treated by some as autonomous and some as autocehpalous, differenes in order of dypticha etc. And all of this doesn't break Communion.
Yeah, plus asking a church to withdraw from the diaspora while basically no one else does would be special treatment. "Akribia for you, economy for everyone else" isn't a good starting point to make a deal.
 

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Constantinople needs to accept that it has canonical boundaries just like everyone else. If others don't belong in the diaspora then neither do they.
Patriarch Bartholomew and the Greek American lobby made Archbishop Iakovos (who marched with MLK) step down because he agreed the US should stop having overlapping jurisdictions, so I think it's more about keeping Slavo-Macedonians on a leash.
 

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Yeah, plus asking a church to withdraw from the diaspora while basically no one else does would be special treatment. "Akribia for you, economy for everyone else" isn't a good starting point to make a deal.
True, but there should be no exception for anyone subject to the Councils, and an agreement that explicitly says "We are not even going to *try* to follow the canons." should have been laughed out of the room, not embraced as an achievement.

And as far as akribia vs economia, that is a modern "Pop Orthodox" belief that has little basis in ancient tradition. St Basil, for example, notes that akribia is *part* of economia (ie, that being strict with the canons is the normative way to build up the Church). Occasionally, strictness (akribia) is contrasted with custom (such as in St Basil), but there the point is to make sure that the canons are being interpreted both strictly *and* in a manner consistent with custom (ie, not in a "strict constructionist" sort of way with the canonical text). Yet that is kind of ironic, because such a customary reading means the canons apply (strictly) to *even more situations*, not less. In other words, using both the letter and the spirit of the law means that the law is just as strict, but just as strict in regards to ever more things—there is no situation where the canons are ignored for "pastoral" reasons or some other nonsense, which is just a cover for spiritual abuse, non-canonical clergy, etc.
 

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How could ignoring canons (being laxer, presumably) be a cover for spiritual abuse?
 

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How could ignoring canons (being laxer, presumably) be a cover for spiritual abuse?
Lots of spiritual abuse is predicated on the ability to treat people differently, usually in secret: to reward more or less, to punish more or less, etc. Even if a canon is burdensome, the fact that it is public knowledge, publicly and consistently enforced, and subject to synodal review eliminates *entire categories* of abuse. This is why penances are designed the way they are (eg, there are *no* private penances in the legitimate canons, even for murder: every bit of weeping, kneeling, standing, etc is 100% public, to prevent abuse) and keep everything in the light.
 

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Lots of spiritual abuse is predicated on the ability to treat people differently, usually in secret: to reward more or less, to punish more or less, etc. Even if a canon is burdensome, the fact that it is public knowledge, publicly and consistently enforced, and subject to synodal review eliminates *entire categories* of abuse. This is why penances are designed the way they are (eg, there are *no* private penances in the legitimate canons, even for murder: every bit of weeping, kneeling, standing, etc is 100% public, to prevent abuse) and keep everything in the light.
I’ll ponder your point; I’m having mixed reactions. It's hard to square the notion of 100% public with the concept of the home church, the icon corner, and personal repentance, love covering a multitude of sins, as well as the practical point that fellow laity may be in a place where knowing 100% of your junk would lead to abuse of a different kind. At the same time, I definitely see how isolation tactics and a "he who wields the book" mentality could lead to a place of control/manipulation/idolatry between an errant priest and a vulnerable layperson.

I don't know that anyone in my parish has read the canons to the degree that they could quote them at will. If so, they've kept it to themselves. So while they may be publicly available, I wouldn't consider that public (i.e., common) knowledge.
 
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