BOSTON – The Ecumenical Patriarchate, in exclusive statements to the National Herald, emphasizes that “at the moment there is no question of autocephaly of the Church of Skopje but of the healing of a schism, for which everyone has a sacred duty, in fact, as the Mother Church of Constantinople did in the case of the Bulgarian schism and in 1945. Also, in its statements, the Ecumenical Patriarchate reveals the communications it has sent to the Serbian Patriarchate, but the latter has so far not responded.
The National Herald had submitted a question to the Ecumenical Patriarchate following letters recently sent to the Phanar from the President and Prime Minister of Skopje, Stevo Pendarovski and Zoran Zaev, respectively.
The full text of the statements of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the National Herald follow:
“The Ecumenical Patriarchate to the National Herald:
“The Ecumenical Patriarchate thanks the esteemed National Herald for the opportunity to briefly present its views on the ecclesiastical problem of Skopje.
“It is a fact that this problem has existed for decades, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate as the Mother Church of all the Churches of the Balkans – and not only those Churches – has made many efforts to date for its resolution, proclaiming the unity of Orthodoxy.
“At this time the issue has entered a new phase. Their Excellencies the President and Prime Minister of Northern Macedonia, following a similar request from this Hierarchy, have asked for the help of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the Church of the so-called Archdiocese of Ohrid, and not the Macedonian Church, to enter into communion with the Orthodox world.
“The Ecumenical Patriarchate, in continuation of its efforts to heal this wound in the body of Orthodoxy, almost a year ago sent a multi-member delegation to Belgrade, which had extensive talks with the Holy Church of Serbia.
“On January 17, 2020, it invited this sister Church to send a delegation from Northern Macedonia to the Phanar, including Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid, to have a conversation here with him and with a delegation of the Church of Skopje, but the Church of Serbia has not yet responded, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate sent it a new invitation, notifying it also about the above letters of the same Excellencies.
“The Skopje side recalls that the Church was not judged to be schismatic for dogmatic or theological reasons, that is, for matters of faith, and invokes the right of appeal to Constantinople, a right which the Ecumenical Patriarchate holds on the basis of decisions of Ecumenical Councils, binding upon all the Orthodox, as in fact they were lived out and applied by the sanctified acts of the Church through the centuries.
“Accordingly, at the moment there is no question of autocephaly of the Church of Skopje but of the healing of a schism, for which everyone has a sacred duty, in fact, as the Mother Church of Constantinople did in the case of the Bulgarian schism and in fact the year 1945, that is, shortly after the tragic events of history in Drama and the wider area of the Eparchies of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Northern Greece.
“Only the devil is not happy with the healing of the divisions, because he himself causes them and desires their perpetuation.
“We are convinced that with the grace of the Holy God our steps will be led to the right path for the good of the Church.”