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news 01 May 12

Russians Urge End to Macedonian Church's Isolation

The Macedonian Orthodox Church should return to communion with the other Orthodox churches, Metropolitan Bishop Hilarion, the Russian Orthodox prelate responsible for external relations, said in Sofia on Sunday.

Novinite.com
Sofia

In a welcome development for the Macedonian Orthodox Church, Bishop Hilarion said its isolation within the Orthodox community should come to an end.

Hilarion spoke while taking part in an ecumenical delegation to Bulgaria headed by Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kiril.

"It is of utmost importance for the Macedonian Orthodox Church to return to the field of canonical communion," Hilarion told Bulgarian National Radio.

"I think that we should not hold too fast to terms such as autocephaly and autonomy. We must create a new model that will satisfy the Macedonian Church and also allow it to enter into communion with other canonical Orthodox Churches," he added.

In 1959, what is now the Macedonian Church was created as an autonomous Archbishopric of Ohrid. However it was still part of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

But in 1967 the Archbishopric declared autocephaly from the Serbian Orthodox Church, which the Serbian Church refused to recognise. In solidarity with the Serbs, the other Orthodox churches have not recognised it either.

The Church's history is complex. Before the First World War, the territories now covered by the Macedonian Church belonged to the autonomous Bulgarian Exarchy, which later became the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

"It is also of utmost importance that this question be settled through dialogue between the Serbian and Macedonian churches. The Russian Orthodox Church is always ready to help in this process," said Hilarion.

Hilarion said that his Church was ready to send monastic envoys to Kosovo to help preserve the Christian Orthodox heritage there.

Highlighting the traditionally warm relations between the Bulgarian and Russian Churches, he said this connection had been enhanced by the fact that the patriarchs - Maxim and Kirill - have been good friends for decades.

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