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Why does the Serbian Orthodox Church revoke its jurisdiction in Macedonia: To whom do we give shrines?


The Serbian Orthodox Church and the "Macedonian Orthodox Church" have definitely been reconciled. This process was crowned with the service of the liturgy of reconciliation, which will be led by Serbian Patriarch Porphyry and Archbishop Stefan of Macedonia. This text will be an attempt to analyze exclusively rational arguments which, on the one hand, speak in favor of reconciling the Serbian and Macedonian hierarchies, and on the other, reveal a slightly different background of current events, which can rightly be called historical.

As a lot has been said and written about the history of the Macedonian church issue in the past years, I would not spend too much time on this aspect. Serbs are invoking the canonical order, recognized in the entire Orthodox Universe, according to which the Serbian Orthodox Church has exclusive jurisdiction in the area of ​​today's Northern Macedonia. On the other hand, the Macedonian side emphasizes the connection with the former Ohrid Church, which in their opinion was Macedonian and which is older than the Serbian one. It is enough to point out that the call of the Macedonians to the continuity of their "Church" with the medieval Ohrid Archbishopric has a basis, just as the call of the Roman Catholic Church among Croats with the Apostolic Church of Dalmatia would have a basis. Even the most liberal pro-Macedonian scientific circles in the world cannot talk about any mention of the Macedonian national name before the second half of the 1767th century. Therefore, the search for some Macedonians in the Ohrid jurisdiction until the end of its existence (XNUMX) is extremely frivolous.

Photo: SOC

Let's deal with the current reasons that were crucial for both sides to sit down and agree on overcoming the split. Also, who is interested in such an outcome? For several days now, we have been hearing very serious Serbian experts welcoming the act of reconciliation, considering it, in a way, a great Serbian victory, ie a defeat of the papist aspirations that Constantinople has undoubtedly shown in recent years. The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church issued a statement in which it gladly accepts the return of the Macedonian Orthodox Church under the auspices of the Mother Church, ie the renewal of the status of this church area from 1959. However, at the very beginning, the SA Parliament itself expresses hope that the issue of the final status of the Macedonian Church will be resolved in the brotherly spirit of pan-Orthodox consent. The conclusion drawn from this formulation could roughly read: the Macedonian hierarchy is no longer divided, the Macedonian Church is returning under the auspices of the Serbian Orthodox Church with the already recognized status of an autonomous church, but that is not its final status. Translated into simpler language, the current autonomous position of the MOC is only a temporary solution, while the final status will most likely imply the autocephaly of the Macedonian Church. This conclusion is imposed for the simple reason that, in the current circumstances, the MOC has the status of the widest possible church autonomy. That is, only one step divides it to autocephaly, which it cannot achieve without the Serbian Church. The same statement also says: "dialogue on the future and eventual final status of the dioceses in Northern Macedonia is not only possible but also purposeful, legitimate and realistic." This once again makes it known that the Serbian hierarchy is willing to meet the needs of the Macedonian hierarchy, considering that negotiations on the status of one of the most important parts of its jurisdiction are not only desirable, but also necessary.

If we step away from the canonical field for a moment, it is worth emphasizing that the historic agreement between the two hierarchies was reached almost 20 years after the collapse of the Nis Agreement, which had similar content, and when the Macedonian side withdrew under pressure from its state and foreign powers. The Nis agreement failed at a time when Northern Macedonia was not yet a member of NATO, at a time when Russia was still a partner of the West, or at a time when the official authorities in Belgrade were still the same ones who overthrew Milosevic and Serbia on October 5th. turned to that same West. However, the historical reconciliation in 2022 took place in significantly different conditions. Northern Macedonia has formally become a member of the North Atlantic Alliance, the West has started an open war with Russia through Ukrainian territory, and Serbia is under increasing pressure to renounce its identity and ties with the East.

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In the meantime, NATO officials have marked the Serbian Church as the main disruptive factor in the post-Yugoslav area, and Western structures are attacking the most important institution of the Serbian people on all fronts. This was especially noticeable in Montenegro, with the famous Law on Freedom of Religion, due to when liturgies were organized, then in Croatia where there were attempts to renew Pavelic's "Croatian Orthodox Church", but also in Northern Macedonia, where the canonical Serbian hierarchy was persecuted as in the Turkish and communist eras. It is enough to mention the suffering of the canonical archbishop Jovan, who was illegally imprisoned in Macedonian casemates for several years. And now the question arises, why would the West, which leads or undermines the most important processes in the Balkans, allow the historical reconciliation of the two fraternal church hierarchies at this very moment? Why did the West care right now to return the MOC under the auspices of the Serbian Orthodox Church? And why would Macedonians at this very moment, when they sided with the West against Orthodox Russia, be advised by the same to return to canonical unity with the Serbs, which the same West has viewed for two centuries as little Russians in the Balkans? I think the answer is simple. It is partly in the second part of the May 16 announcement. Namely, it is said that: "The Parliament does not intend to condition the new sister Church with restrictive clauses regarding the scope of its jurisdiction in the home country and in the diaspora after resolving its status, with its recommendation to resolve the issue of its official name in direct Orthodox Churches. " Simply put, the Serbian Orthodox Church intends to recognize the jurisdiction of the MOC over Macedonians in the diaspora after determining its final status, but also to leave the issue of its final name to the Macedonian-Greek dialogue. If the SA Sabor of the SOC wanted to see the rest of the MOC in its composition, it would not allow third parties to interfere in the issue of the name of one of its administrative units. However, it seems that with this announcement, the SA Assembly of the Serbian Orthodox Church sees the MOC as a new sister Church, which is stated in the announcement, unlike Constantinople, generously recognizes its jurisdiction over Macedonians in the diaspora, and leaves it to, analogous to the political name of the state, the MOC similarly resolved the issue of its name with Greek-speaking local churches.

As can be seen from the direct analysis, the Serbian hierarchy intends to fraternally help its Macedonian colleagues to canonically legalize what the League of Communists of Yugoslavia started in the 50s, thus annulling one of the most important legal principles that Valtazar Bogisic expressed in words. that "what is born hump, time does not correct." Specifically, it is about rounding off the Macedonian identity by forming an autocephalous Macedonian church. In that context, I would like to remind the readers that the Macedonian identity is still not recognized on an imaginary basis by either the Bulgarian or the Greek side. In particular, everything that could be characterized as Macedonian in Bulgaria and Greece from today's point of view has been completely eradicated. It turns out that only Serbian political and church elites are dedicated to forming this new identity only in the area that was returned to the Kingdom of Serbia by the Peace of Bucharest in 1913. After the recognition of the Macedonian language in the time of the SFRY, the recognition of the northern Macedonian state in 1991, it was the turn of the Serbian recognition of the MOC, which until this moment was divided not only with the Serbian Church, but also with the entire Orthodox world.

The question of the motive of Serbian dignitaries to work on the abolition of their own church jurisdiction on the original Serbian territory is raised. Let me remind you, in the area of ​​Northern Macedonia there is almost the same - if not greater - number of Serbian Orthodox shrines as in Kosovo and Metohija. In this area are the cradle of Serbian literacy, spirituality, as well as the old Serbian capital. But what is also important, a small group of Serbs still survives in this area, who did not renounce their identity, but also a not so negligible group of Orthodox Christians who, suffering decades of persecution, remained in canonical unity with the Serbian Orthodox Church. In this way, the martyrdom of the Serbian victims, who persevered for so many years because of their fidelity to Christ and the Church of Saint Sava, was annulled and forgotten. On the other hand, hetmanship, manipulation, moral and political suitability and service of the Macedonian hierarchy to foreign interests were rewarded. That the Macedonian structures sincerely wanted to strengthen Orthodoxy, even outside the Serbian canonical framework, had at least the last three decades since the fall of communism. However, even today, most of the temples in this area are not active, that is, there is no active liturgical life in a large number of local shrines.

The next question is: what did the Serbian church, but also intellectual and political elites want to achieve with such an agreement? Will Macedonian dignitaries now become brothers to the Serbian people? Will it stop the brutal falsification of church history there? Will the renaming of Serbian holy kings and martyrs, the founders of the local monasteries, stop, or will Serbian saints continue to bother the Macedonian brothers? For those who have not visited the Serbian shrines there, let me say that the Macedonian brothers have been removing inscriptions on the frescoes of Serbian saints for years, changing their names, and there are places in historical memories for Byzantines, even for "hateful" Turks and Bulgarians, but not for the largest founders in the country, the Serbs. Therefore, is it in the interest of Serbian spiritual and secular pastors to form new identities on a fragmented Serbian being or to preserve their own tradition?

Objectively speaking, it is worth saying who gained what with this agreement, and who lost what. Each agreement represents a kind of compromise. In this particular case, the Macedonian side sacrificed the current recognition of autocephaly, returning to the SOC, in order to get the same in the second canonically allowed way in the second step. The Serbian side agreed to help in the process of its own extermination in the area of ​​Old Serbia, that is, it agreed to recognize the MOC in the regular canonical way, without getting anything, making bigger concessions than those to which Constantinople itself would be ready at this time. is by any chance the Macedonian issue under his jurisdiction. The Hellenic world got another rounded pro-Western NATO colony, which in no way can be a country in favor of a growing Russia. The Albanian and Bulgarian factors received the definitive abolition of Serbian influence in Northern Macedonia, because there is no longer any lever of pressure with which Belgrade could influence the behavior of Skopje's elites. The West gained a narrowing of the space of the Serbian Orthodox Church, and thus a weakening, for them, of the main disruptive factor in the Balkans. The Vatican practically got the door open for its proselytism in this area without any fears of reactions from the Serbian Church and its dignitaries.

Many will object to this text with a counter-question: what is the alternative? The alternative, gentlemen Christians, is the fight for the Truth, as the supreme value of Orthodoxy, no matter how unpleasant and politically incorrect it may be, and no matter how much our former and current brothers did not like it. The alternative, gentlemen Serbs, is the struggle for Serbian national interests, and not the enslavement to Yugoslav traditions. Especially in the new, changed geopolitical circumstances, when the amputation of one part of the Serbian spiritual heritage is completely unreasonable. The alternative is, consecrated church fathers, confession of faith and martyrdom, and not negotiating with the robbers of Serbian saints. Do not forget that the only bearer of Orthodoxy in Old Serbia is the people of St. Đorđe Kratovac, Sv. Zlate Meglenske, Sv. Deacon Habakkuk, priest Tasa Konević and archbishop Jovan Vraniškovski and countless other martyrs, not the people of the union of Goca Delčev, the founder of the Society against Serbs, Dame Gruev and war criminal Todor Alexandrov.

Finally, I would like to ask a personal question to our elites. From now on, whose will be the graves of our ancestors who bled for the liberation of Old Serbia, that is, who will take care of them? Macedonian brothers, who keep the body of the union of Goca Delcev as the main shrine in their Cathedral in Skopje? I would not say. Will it now be possible to hold a memorial service on the grave of my great-grandfather Milan Ilić, a Serbian soldier who died on Kajmakčalan, buried in the village of Bač near Bitola, or his cousin, Duke Petko Ilić Nagorički, buried in Stari Nagoričan near Kumanovo? Will the fraternal Macedonian hierarchy do that, which by its actions annulled everything for which those concerned laid down their lives? The answer is crystal clear: No! What will happen to the remaining Serbs, guardians of non-monastic traditions? Like the Serbs in Kosmet, they will remain an unpleasant witness to the deeply strategically and fundamentally wrong decisions of the Serbian elites. The year before last, Let's Not Give Shrines in Montenegro, turned into We Give Shrines in Northern Macedonia. That is why the message of this text to the Serbian elites who look at us from the Dinaric heights and the Pannonian lowlands is their southern compatriots: Do you think that by erasing one of the most important parts of your own spiritual heritage you have successfully solved an important church and national problem? Unfortunately, you didn't. You think Montenegro is far from Macedonia, and Vojvodina even further, but Macedonia will knock on your door tomorrow