Patriarch Porfirij declared that the Serbian Orthodox Church accepts the full autocephaly – independence – of the Macedonian Orthodox Church.
The decision was announced during his joint service with Macedonian Archbishop Stefan in the St. Clement of Ohrid cathedral in Skopje today. This ends the decades long dispute after the MOC declared its independence in the 1960ies, a move that was bitterly opposed by the Serbian church, which dominated the Macedonian parishes since the Balkan wars 1912-13.
Owing to your prayers, we established unity. And now, brothers and sisters, I bring you another joyous news. The Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church unanimously decided to accept the request of the Macedonian Orthodox Church – Ohrid Archibshopric. We bless and grant you autocephaly, Patriarch Porfirij said.
The move follows the decision by Ecumenical Patriarch Barholomew to declare the Macedonian church in canonical unity with the rest of the Orthodox churches. It’s likely that the largest Orthodox church – the Moscow Patriarchate, will also accept this decision, as it already declared that it will follow Serbia’s lead on the issue.
Greek dominated churches, including the Ecumenical Patriarchate, will likely insist on using the name Ohrid Archbishopric, avoiding the name Macedonian Orthodox Church,
Porfirij left one caveat – that there are “technical and organization details” to be worked out. After this, the Serbian church will notify other Orthodox churches and ask them to also accept Macedonia’s autocephaly. Serbia recognizes a splinter church led by former MOC bishop Jovan, and it will likely ask that some of its top officials are integrated in the Macedonian church.