Church of Serbia, Northern Macedonia, Ends Decades of Conflict

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Skopje, Northern Macedonia – The head of the Serbian Orthodox Church said on Tuesday that he would recognize the full independence of the church in neighboring northern Macedonia, signaling the end of a decade-long religious conflict.

The Macedonian Church unilaterally declared its independence from the Serbian Church in 1967, when the two predominantly Orthodox republics were still part of Yugoslavia.

Serbian religious leaders at the time condemned the move as isolated, and the isolated church was not recognized by other Orthodox churches.

The decision was announced on Tuesday during a joint liturgy with the Archbishop of the Northern Macedonian Church, Stephen, at the Cathedral of St. Clement of Ohrid in the northern Macedonian capital, Skopje, by Patriarch Porfriz, leader of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

“Brothers and sisters, we are here to make you happy,” said Porfriguez, a senior bishop of Serbia who unanimously accepted the change. An official declaration of the church’s independence is being prepared, he said, adding that acceptance invitations to be sent to other Orthodox churches must be followed.

“God is one, his church is one, and our faith is one. So today we rejoice. A miracle is happening in front of us. We are part of that miracle, “said Porfridge. Hundreds of people in the service applauded his announcement.

The news that the church and the Orthodox world were not at odds was widely viewed as a historic event in northern Macedonia.

The official recognition of the church’s autosephalism – named entirely by the Macedonian Orthodox Church – Ohrid Archbishopric – is the first official announcement by Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians.

“We have been waiting for a long time to hear this news. This day, ”said Archbishop Stefan, thanking Bartholomew and Porphyriz for their support.

On May 9, the Ecumenical Patriarch officially resumed contact with Ohrid Archbishopric, referring to the Macedonian Orthodox Church.

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