The decade of
1940-1950 was the period with the biggest and most
relentless persecutions for the Serbian Church, but also Her
greatest and most vigorous resistance at every level. An
indicative example: between the years 1943-1946 were the
unsuccessful attempts by Tito's atheist regime for an
un-canonical recognition by the Serbian
Patriarchate of a new, ethnic "Macedonian" church in the
South (of Jugoslavia) with its seat in Skopje - for obvious
nationalist and anti-Hellenic aspirations.
On the 4th of March of 1945, the first, anti-canonical,
clergy & laity conference convened in Skopje, with the
participation of 300 priests and lay people, in which it was
decided to found the "Archdiocese of Ohrid as an independent
Macedonian church that would not be subservient to any
local or ethnic church". The Serbian Patriarchate then
responded that the clergy & laity conference was
anti-canonical, and on the 22nd of September 1945 it
proceeded with an - especially daring for that era's
political circumstances - decision. In that decision,
the hierarchy of the Serbian Patriarchate stressed - among
other things - the following:
1) that the three provinces of the South (Skopje, Stromnitsa
and Monasterion) had been allocated to the Serbian
Patriarchate in 1922, with a patriarchal and conciliar Tome
of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and as such, they belong to
the Serbian Church.
2) that it is not possible for an independent Church to be
re-established within federal Jugoslavia without the consent
of the Mother Church of Constantinople.
3) that the self-proclamation by any independent,
self-styled "macedonian" church is a dictatorial and
The reaction by the -then- political and ecclesiastic
circles of Skopje revealed their nationalist disposition for
the disbanding of the Serbian Patriarchate as an
institution, and its replacement by the new "Orthodox Church
of Jugoslavia". In the end, nothing of the kind
occurred. The attempts since 1944 to found an
autocephalous "Macedonian Church" in Skopje aspired to the
supporting of the hypostasis of the newly-formed "Slavo-Macedonian
nation". In other words, the new local "church" was
called upon to serve political and racial requisites, and
not any ecclesiastic needs.
Marshal Tito wanted a
"Macedonian Church" in Skopje, and had envisaged it -
backstage - as an autocephalous archdiocese or as a
Patriarchate. The hierarchy of the Serbian Orthodox
Church had preoccupied itself with this issue, in 1958 and 1959.
On the basis of the sacred canons, this political request
could not be satisfied. The only thing that could be done -
providentially - within an ecclesiastic framework (which in
fact was realized in 1959), was to allow a kind of
autonomous status quo to the three metropolises of southern
Jugoslavia, with the consent of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
and naturally under the full supervision of the Serbian
The solution that was given
had initially been accepted, but with much skepticism from
the political side. In 1966, the political request to found
an independent "Macedonian Church" re-surfaced. Then
Dositheos, the Metropolitan of Skopje, on the 18th of
November of 1966 at the
standing Holy Synod of the Serbian Church made the
following, revealing announcement: "We have decided to
ask for an autocephalous status from the Serbian Orthodox
Church. This decision of ours has been brought to the
attention of the executive council of Macedonia (Skopje)."
The Serbian hierarchy's refusal was absolute and
categorical, with their decision No.44 of the 24th of May
1967. The Serbian Patriarchate steadfastly and
correctly insisted ONLY on an autonomous status quo, under
its direct and close supervision. Unfortunately,
thereafter, the political and ecclesiastic carriers in
Skopje proceeded on their own with the anti-canonical, coup
d'etat-style and anti-ecclesiastic self-proclamation of the
autocephaly of the self-styled "Macedonian Church".
Specifically, on the 17th of July 1967, the two bodies (of
the pseudo-synod of 4 hierarchs, and the anti-canonical
clergy & lay conference of 34 members) convened in Ohrid -
the "formerly shining" historical Archdiocese of Ohrid - and
finally proceeded with the establishment of the pseudo-macedonian,
coup d'etat-like and anti-canonical "church" of Skopje.
The reaction of the Holy Synod of the Hierarchy of the
Serbian Orthodox Church was a swift and austere one. In an
extraordinary convening in September of 1967, it preoccupied
itself solely with the subject: "The problem of the
proclamation of the autocephalous of the Macedonian Church".
The decision of the Serbian Church was clear-cut and opined
"The "Macedonian Church" of Skopje with its anti-canonical
and political action has excised itself from communicating
and communing with the whole of the Orthodox Church and has
rendered itself a schismatic religious organization."
This placement of the Serbian Church - canonical from all
aspects - also became the position of the Ecumenical
Patriarchate of Constantinople and the other, local Orthodox
This decision by the Serbian Church was not an unfounded one,
nor was it historically groundless, precisely because - since 1922 -
the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople had ceded to
the Serbian Patriarchate of the Skopje Metropolis with a
Patriarchal and Synodical Tome the metropolises of Skopje, Devron & Velissou, Pelagonia, Prespes
& Ohrid and Stromnitsa, which, since 1912/1913 - after the Balkan Wars -
had been included in the Serbian kingdom.
Consequently, the reaction of the Serbian Church was
absolutely justified and expected, since an organic section
of her jurisdiction had been anti-canonically excised and
with nationalist-racist and anti-Orthodox criteria to boot.
Besides, the involvement and active participation of the
State for a forced concession of autocephaly to the "church"
of Skopje is absolutely anti-canonical and illegitimate,
because according to the canonical order and praxis of the
Orthodox Church, no secular authority whatsoever can be the
prerequisite or the criterion for conceding an autocephaly.
Furthermore, the assertion by the pseudo-macedonian "church"
of Skopje, that it is supposedly related to the historical
Archdiocese of Ohrid (which, ecclesiastically, had been
absolutely independent for 800 years), is an entirely
groundless and historically inaccurate and unfounded one,
for two main reasons:
Firstly, because the Archdiocese of Ohrid was never an
autocephalous (independent) Church. The Ecumenical
Patriarchate of Constantinople had never ceded or recognized
this honorific status to the Archdiocese of Ohrid, which had
always belonged to the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical
Patriarchate. For historical reasons alone, the Mother
Church of Constantinople had ceded to the local Church of
Ohrid a certain form of ecclesiastic semi-autonomy.
Secondly, inasmuch as there can be no comparison whatsoever
between the pseudo-macedonian "church" of Skopje and the
Archdiocese of Ohrid. This is also evidenced by the fact
that the Archdiocese of Ohrid had a mixed flock - of Greek,
Bulgarian and Serbian faithful. In other words, it did not
have that "pseudo-macedonian" character - as so
unhistorically and unfoundedly asserted by the Skopjians.
Furthermore, the Archdiocese of Ohrid was never called
"Macedonian Church". This can be ascertained, from the
official titles and signatures of the Ohrid archbishops, on
numerous official documents. But also, the official language of the
Ohrid Archdiocese was Greek, given that most of the
Metropolitans and Bishops of that Church were Greek, or
possessed a Hellenic Education, as they were all graduates
of the Theological School of Halki. We must also not
overlook the fact that the Archbishops of Ohrid were elected
by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and were
sent from there to Ohrid.
From 1967 and to this day, every month of May a delegation
of pseudo-bishops of the nonexistent, pseudo-macedonian
"church" of Skopje visits the Vatican. What does this
"schismatic, religious organization" of Skopje want from the
Vatican? It seeks spiritual and ecclesiastic
recognition. What does the Vatican in turn seek? The
expansion of the Pope's spiritual and ecclesiastic influence
in Southern Jugoslavia, through a new form of Unia.
On the 15th of March 1992, when the Ecumenical Patriarch
Bartholomew I convened all the Orthodox archbishops and
patriarchs in the Phanar of Constantinople, an ecclesiastic
delegation from Skopje also presented itself, on its own
initiative. Patriarch Bartholomew received the
delegation, but only with the presence of the Serbian
Patriarch, Paul, in order to underline and stress that
Orthodoxy overall recognizes only the Serbian patriarchate,
and no "church" from Skopje. That delegation requested
ecclesiastic recognition by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The
Patriarch however proposed that they return to the bosom of
their Mother Church, which was and is the Serbian
Even to this day, from time to time, discussions are still
taking place for the solution to this entire problem. The
results are negative, because the pseudo-macedonians of
Skopje are seeking independency (autocephaly) of a "church"
with the name "Macedonian".
However this has not been
accepted, neither by the Serbian Patriarchate, nor by any
other Orthodox Church. Of late, the pseudo-macedonian,
schismatic "church" of Skopje is striving to be subsumed by
the Papist "church", in the form of a local, Uniate
There can be no doubt that the anti-canonical and coup
d'etat-like self-proclamation of "autocephaly" by Skopje
aspired to serve political expediencies. In other words, it
was called upon to contribute to the promotion of the
so-called "Macedonian issue", to the detriment of Hellenic
Macedonia, on the part of the Jugoslavian status quo of
Tito, which, as an expansive policy is continuing to this
day. That is why the nonexistent and schismatic
pseudo-macedonian "church" in Skopje is aptly characterized
as a "schismatic religious organization" and is indeed a
submissive instrument of Skopje's politics.
As we have been informed during the recent period of time,
certain schismatic pseudo-bishops of the pseudo-macedonian,
schismatic "church" of Skopje are returning to the Serbian
Patriarchate, where they properly belong - administratively and
spiritually. One such bishop who repented and returned
to the official Serbian Church is John of Velesson, whom one
year ago the Serbian Patriarchate elected as the new
Archbishop of Ohrid.
Already, the first internal rupture within the schismatic
and anti-canonical pseudo "church" of Skopje has occurred.
In the end, canonical ecclesiastic order will prevail.