Serbian hierarch: Phanar has no power to resolve inter-church disputes

12 August 2019 22:44
Archbishop Jovan (Vraniskovsky). Photo: Facebook Archbishop Jovan (Vraniskovsky). Photo: Facebook

It is unacceptable that in the 21st century there should be one Church to independently resolve issues of other Orthodox Churches, assures Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid.

The primacy of power in the Orthodox Church is unacceptable and only the Pan-Orthodox Council is in a position to resolve inter-church disputes. The hierarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Archbishop Jovan (Vraniskovsky) of Ohrid and Metropolitan of Skopje said this in an interview with the Serbian publication Politika, commenting on the situation with the unrecognized Macedonian Church.

The hierarch recalled that the meeting of the bishops of the Serbian Church decided to resume negotiations with representatives of the non-canonical church structure in order to regulate its status, but the beginning of this process was delayed through no fault of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

According to him, the Macedonian Church wants to sit on two chairs: first, its bishops proposed that the Bulgarian Orthodox Church become the Mother Church of the unrecognized structure, and then turned to the Ecumenical Patriarchate with a request to be an appellate judge for them.

He stressed that such a request to the Ecumenical Patriarchate regarding the status of the Macedonian Church is meaningless, since "the Ecumenical Patriarchate is not competent to resolve inter-church disputes, only the Pan-Orthodox Council is responsible for this".

“The Church is one, administratively divided into 14 autocephalous Churches,” said Archbishop Jovan. “Each Local Church needs to take care of the state of the Church in the entire ecumenical community. However, some administrative processes are in the jurisdiction of one of the Local Churches. The issue of ecclesiastical autonomy of the part which is under the jurisdiction of the Local Church also applies to such.”

Speaking about the possibility of the "Ukrainian scenario" in relation to the unrecognized Macedonian Church, the hierarch expressed the hope that "the Ecumenical Patriarchate will not undertake such a non-canonical procedure".

“It was the Ecumenical Patriarchate that vested the Serbian Orthodox Church with jurisdiction over the territories of modern Northern Macedonia, and now there is no reason to question this jurisdiction. However, as stated by the Metropolitan Amphilochios of Montenegro and the Littoral, one can expect everything after what happened in Ukraine. Nevertheless, this would cause the greatest damage to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, whose primacy of honor is not in doubt today, but the primacy of power is unacceptable in the Orthodox Church. It’s unacceptable that in the 21st century there should be only one Church, which will solve at its own discretion the issues of concern to other Orthodox Churches,” summed up the Serbian hierarch.

Recall that earlier the Macedonian media stated that Patriarch Bartholomew did not intend to grant autocephaly to the non-canonical Macedonian Church believing that the solution to this issue falls within the competence of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

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