Bishop Petar joined with Archbishop Stefan, in warning that the Macedonian Orthodox Church is facing excessive demands from the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul in order to complete the process of the official recognition of the Macedonian church.

Now it is clear that the issue of the church is not a religious one, but a political issue. We do not have a problem with the canonical teaching of our church or with our faith, but we are exclusively asked to renounce our identity, Bishop Petar said. He confirmed the warning from Archibishop Stefan, that the Greek Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is demanding that the Macedonian Orthodox Church adopts the name Archbishopric of Ohrid, if not in full, at least in its communication with Istanbul.

Previously, Archbishop Stefan revealed that the conditions put before Macedonia by Patriarch Bartholomew are unacceptable, as besides a name change requested by Greece, it also includes a demand that the Macedonian church gives up its religious communities abroad. “We have a name. We will not renounce our name, it is ours and belongs to no-one else. All other Orthodox nations have their diasporas, and if they take over all other diasporas, let them take over ours as well”, Archbishop Stefan added.
Previously, Macedonian church officials have made it clear that Bartholomew is also pushing strongly for the recognition of the Ukrainian church, as part of his feud with the Russian Orthodox Church. This is likely another major request from the Macedonian church, before Istanbul would give full recognition.

Not all bishops in the Macedonian Orthodox Chuch are of the same opinion. Bishop Pimen, who is delegated to the European bishopry and who supported the imposed name change of Macedonia, insists that the demands from Istanbul are not that heavy.

As far as I’m informed, what is asked from us is not to change our Constitution or our name, but only to use the name Archbishopric of Ohrid when addressing the Patriarchate of Carigrad, says Pimen, acknowledging that the other two conditions are also in place – that Macedonia renounces its diaspora and recognizes the Ukrainian church.

The comments from the Macedonian bishops come at a time when Macedonia and Greece are rekindling the dispute over the imposed name change. Greek authorities are reacting angrily after a large majority of Macedonian voters supported VMRO-DPMNE in the elections, and new President and incoming Government are announcing they will not use the imposed name in their public statements.