August 17, 2005

KiM-Info Newsletter 17-08-05

Background information regarding the imprisonment of Archbishop Jovan of Ochrid

How the latest attempt to heal the schism in FYR Macedonia failed

Ecumenical Council

The peace in Church resides on conciliar spirit of love
a fresco showing an Ecumenical synod

Kim-Info service is enclosing an article from the latest issue of Belgrade NIN magazine in which it is explained how the latest attempt to heal the schism in FYR Macedonia in 2002 failed despite readines of bishops who took part in the agreement to overcome the problems. The draft agreement clearly shows that the Patriarchate (Serbian Orthodox Church) is not against eventual autocephaly (full independence) of its dioceses in FYR Macedonia but insists that prior to discussions on final status the seceded dioceses and their bishops should enter the canonical order of the Church and follow the centuries old tradition of the Church in resolving the disputable jurisdictional issues. However, persistantly refusing the draft agreement "MOC" Bishops from FYROM gave no other choice to the Patriarchate at the end but to pursue the unity with those clergy and faithfull who sincerely want to live in Church unity and observe canonical tradition of the Church.

In a latrocinium in July 1967 three dioceses in former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, which had belong to the Serbian Orthodox Church, unilaterally proclaimed their autocephaly (Church independence) without consent of the mother Patriarchate and other Orthodox Churches. The schism was instigated by then Communist authorities and Skopje secessionists who sought an independent Church as a key element of new state and national unity. From its very beginning the MOC has remained very closely linked to political authorities who proclaimed it the only legal Orthodox Church on the territory of FYROM. The Patriarchate repeatedly called its seceded dioceses and their bishops to return to the Church unity but without success. The only FYROM Bishop who decided to return to the Church unity on the basis of the Nis agreement in 2002 was Metropolitan Jovan of Veles who was proclaimed a national traitor and was falsely accused for "spreading religious hatred". After many accusations and amidst the brutal persecution of his clergy and faithful Kyr Jovan, who was in the meantime appointed an Archbishop of the Autonomous Ochrid Archdiocese in FYORM was arrested and imprisoned in July 2005 only because he disagrees with the schismatic Church in Macedonia which remains unrecognized by other Orthodox Churches.

False accusations by MOC that Serbian Orthodox Church is allegedly pursuing "Serbianization" of the Church in FYR Macedonia are completely untrue and such claims are only used as an excuse of MOC hierarchy in front of God-loving people of FYR Macedonia. Using nationalism and wining the state support in persecution of canonical Orthodox Christian clergy MOC bishops are demonstrating a shocking lack of pastoral responsibility and Christian love.

Supporting imprisoned Archbishop Jovan and his suffering clergy and faithful, the Orthodox Church worldwide has clearely demonstrated that the true way towards Christian unity and love is in obedience to Church tradition and not in obedience of wordly authorities and ideas of phyletism.

KIM Info-service

*Phyletism is the heresy of church organization based on ethnicity, a practice that can result in competing autocephalous churches occupying the same geographic region. It was condemned at the Synod of Constantinople in 1872

NIN magazine, Belgrade
August 11, 2005
Agreement violated, ink remains

Authorized representatives of Macedonian Orthodox Church signed an agreement in Nis in 2002 on the constitution of the Autonomous Archdiocese of Ochrid; then, under pressure from the state, they changed their mind. The Serbian Orthodox Church, nevertheless, continued to work in the spirit of the Nis Agreement

St. Nahum monastery on the shores of Ochrid lake

The Serbian Orthodox Church, especially since the collapse of Communism and the arrival of Patriarch Pavle at its head, has been trying in every possible day to resolve the issue of schism with the dioceses in the [Former Yugoslav] Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). It has sent appeals and asked for the help of other local [Orthodox] churches. Many meetings have been held - both in Serbia and Montenegro with representatives of the dioceses which seceded.


These meetings contributed to an agreement finally being reached in Nis on May 17, 2002 on the resolution of the schism and the establishment of eucharistic unity between the Serbian Patriarchate and the Episcopate in the Republic of Macedonia.


According to this agreement, the Serbian Orthodox Church recognizes "the broadest Church autonomy" of the existing dioceses in the Republic of Macedonia. Only the most essential connections presumed by autonomy were kept, two of which were significant as well as symbolic: the election of the head of the Church in Macedonia was to be confirmed by the Serbian Patriarch, and that this head mentions the Serbian Patriarch first during Liturgy.


It was even agreed that the present name of Macedonian Orthodox Church (MOC) be used in internal official communication between the two.


Despite a huge media campaign and protests by Macedonian state officials against the Nis Agreement, it was expected that the other side would accept it. All the more so because, in the meanwhile, five out of the seven Macedonian bishops had accepted it! However, by May 28 the members of the [so-called] Macedonian Orthodox Church had organized a press conference where, obviously under pressure from state officials and media, they relativized the draft agreement they had signed. Their explanation, as relayed by the media, was as follows: "A working document was signed in Nis according to which the MOC would accept autonomous status with a possible change in name to the Archdiocese of Ochrid; however, the final solution will be proclaimed by the heads of the two churches upon signing the proposed version of the agreement."


The only one who subsequently adopted and signed the Nis Agreement was the Metropolitan of Veles and Povardarje, Jovan. And this was to become the reason for his persecution in every way possible.


Although it was not accepted by the Macedonian side, the Serbian Orthodox Church continued to act in the spirit of the Nis Agreement.


After the hierarchs in the Republic of Macedonia continued to persist in schism, the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church at its regular May session in 2003 passed a decision on the constitution of the Holy Synod of the Autonomous Archdiocese of Ochrid. On that occasion, two new bishops of the Archdiocese of Ochrid were also elected: Joakim and Marko. At the same time, Metropolitan Kiril of Polog and Kumanovo, who spearheaded support of the schism, was "placed under prohibition of conducting religious service, suspended from administering a Diocese and canonical proceedings were initiated against him" by the Assembly.


At the autumn session of the highest body of the Serbian Orthodox Church the same year, the Holy Assembly of Bishops annulled every act of the schismatic hierarchs in the Republic of Macedonia relating to the Patriarchal Exarch of the Autonomous Archdiocese of Ochrid, Kyr Jovan, "passing other relevant decisions regarding the same issue in the spirit of catholic (universak) order of Orthodoxy".


Draft agreement on reestablishment of Church unity

(“Nis Agreement”) 


Having in mind real spiritual and pastoral needs and the decisions of the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church numbers 47/1958, 6/1959 – register book 57 dated June 17/1 1959, the Serbian Orthodox Church, i.e. the Pec Patriarchate recognizes the broad Church independence, i.e. the broadest ecclesiastical  autonomy of the existing dioceses of the Orthodox Church in the Republic of Macedonia, leaving the issue of final status, in accordance with the canonical and catholic (universal) order of the Orthodox Church, to a future all-Orthodox consensus by the fullness of the Church in the Holy Spirit.


In terms of concrete substance this presumes the following:


1. In its internal life and in its spiritual-pastoral activities, the aforementioned Orthodox Church has independence in accordance with generally accepted canonical norms. Accordingly, it has its own Holy Synod of Bishops and head.


2. The aforementioned Church is governed on the basis of the generally accepted canonical order of the Orthodox Church and its own Constitution.


3. The head represents his own Church before the Serbian Orthodox Church, and establishment of eucharistic community and canonical unity with the Serbian Orthodox Church is attestation of Church unity with other Local Churches.


4. The head is to be addressed with His Beatitude or Beatitudeness (Blaženjejši) and wears a white hood with a diamond cross.


5. The election of the head is confirmed by the Serbian Patriarch, first by serving a Holy Liturgy together with him.


6. Taking part in the act of enthronement of a newly elected head are the Serbian Patriarch or his envoy and one of the bishops of the aforementioned Church.


7. The head during Holy Liturgy, at the point, "Among the first mention"  makes mention of the Serbian Patriarch, and at the Great Entrance he may make mention of the heads of other Local Churches as well. Local bishops of the dioceses and vicar bishops make mention of the name of the head [of the aforementioned Church].


8. The head or his deputy take part in preparation and consecration of holy peace with the Serbian Patriarch as a sign of unity with the Holy Spirit.


9. In the election and enthronement of the head of the aforementioned Church, the Serbian Patriarch informes the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Local Churches. On his part, the head can also inform regarding the same by his letter too..


10. The establishment of new dioceses and redistribution of existing ones is to be decided by the Holy Synod of Bishops, which then officially informs the Serbian Patriarch.


11. In the event that a bishop is tried or in another matter of similar weight when, according to the canonical order of the Orthodox Church, a council of no less than twelve bishops is to make a decision, the number of bishops necessary to meet this minimum number will be provided from the dioceses of the Serbian Orthodox Church.


12. The bishops of the dioceses and their vicar bishops are elected by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the aforementioned Church.


13. The head, upon concelebration with the Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade and Karlovci, and Serbian Patriarch, stands to his right side.


14. In accordance with ancient church tradition and historical practice, the aforementioned church will bear the name of the Archdiocese of Ochrid. The Archdiocese of Ochrid may, on the basis of a now decades-long practice, use the name it has used thus far in internal official communication with the Pec Patriarchate.


15. For the same reasons, the head officially bears the title of Archbishop of Ochrid and Metropolitan of Skoplje; internally, he may use the title he has used thus far.


16. The aforementioned Orthodox church will participate in all-Orthodox conferences, consultations and ceremonies and, with the acquiescence of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in meetings of the heads of autocephalous and autonomous Orthodox churches.


17. In the spirit of these decisions it is necessary to harmonize the constitutional regulations relating to the agreement on establishment of canonical unity.


In Nis, on May 17, 2002


Metropolitan Petar of Australia (MOC)


Metropolitan Timotej of Debar and Kicevo (MOC)


Metropolitan Naum of Strumica (MOC)


Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral (SOC)


Bishop Irinej of Nis (SOC)


Bishop Irinej of Backa (SOC)


Bishop Pahomije of Vranje (SOC)


Autocephaly Vs. Autonomy

Two separate forms of having self-governance in Chruch are AUTOCEPHALY and AUTONOMY. Autonomy has some limits that autocephaly does not.

Autocephaly means:

a. the right of a Church to resolve all problems on its own canonical authority, independently of all other Churches, and
b. the right of the Church to appoint (elect and ordain, consecrate and install) its own bishops, including the head (primate) of the Church.
c. autocephaly may be achieved only with consensus of the mother Church and in full canonical order of the Church.

Autonomy means:

a. the right of the Church to resolve all problems, except perhaps as agreed otherwise with the mother Church; and
b. the right to appoint (elect) its own bishops, including the head (primate) of the Church, except that the election of the primate only becomes valid after it is confirmed by the highest authority of the mother Church.
c. historically in most of instances the autocephality is preceded by autonomous status.

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