by the mercy of God, Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade and Karlovac and Patriarch of Serbia, to all the clerics, the venerable monasticism and the believing people of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric

Mercy and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit with the joyous Christmas greeting


The Almighty God the Father, the giver of existence and all life energy, has created His Church as a union of angles and people, but also of all that is created in Christ, His beloved Son. The world is in unity with God, but it does not exist with the same eternity with which God exists, for God is uncreated and His nature is uncreated, and the world, although it can be said that it has always been thought of as in God, as a creation of His will, it cannot exist independently as God exists, but, before and after its creation it is in unity with Him.

This is why, the Church has always taught that the unity is a constitutive component of the Church, and it cannot be called a Church if it is not in unity with God. This unity with God comprises another unity, and this is the unity of God’s people between themselves in Jesus Christ our Lord. It is not possible to achieve unity with God without having unity with the ones in unity with Him.

The unity in Christ is not an appendix to the Church, but its identity. There is no Church without the personal unity of each of its members, first, with Christ the God-man, but at the same time with all of those who are in unity with Him. This is the way of existence of the Orthodox Church, its teaching, its work and service. The unity is identified with the god-manly unity, the unity with love, and love is the name of God: “God is love”.

There are several names for those who don’t have a real unity with God and with God’s people. They are named either heterodox, either heretics, or schismatics. While the first don’t recognize at all the salvation in the Church, the second and the third have their own, wrong recipe to reach salvation. They call themselves Christians, but they tech wrong, they live wrong, they serve wrong to God. In essence, between them, that is, between the schismatics and the heretics there isn’t much difference. Both are outside of the Church and have as much salvation, as saint Cyprian of Carthage says, as those who were out of the borders of Noah’s Arc. History has proven that if the schism is not cured in time, it will transform into a heresy, and the heresy is a schism, a split, a breakage of the ties with God and with all of those in unity with Him.

All of this is of great importance to those who want to save themselves in the Church and to inherit the eternal life. The Church cannot force anyone to unity, it cannot order anyone to be in unity, but it should and it must direct towards unity with God, Who appeared to the world as Holy Trinity, and with His people who are a god-manly union of persons. In this union each carries his own biological features, but none grounds his future on them. In the Kingdom of God, in which there is neither Jew, nor Greek, as the apostle Paul says, and even the more, there is neither male nor female gender, nothing can be based upon something transitory, timely, that has no constancy or eternity by itself.

So, nothing of the biological features can be centred as a condition for the unity with God and His people, for all of that has a changeable character, susceptible to alteration, perfection or fall, transformation or demise. And the national affiliation, not only because the ethnophiletism as an occurrence in the Church has been condemned at the council in Constantinople in the 19 century, but also because the national affiliation is the most subsidiary of all the biological features of man, is the most inconstant and uncertain. First, because it is very difficult to claim and insist, with certainty, on the purity of a certain nation, but, more important than the first is that for the affiliates of any people to enter the Kingdom of God, they have to change into God’s people.

The problems with the ethnophiletism in the Church appeared very late, even in the 19th century. Maybe they found a fertile ground because the Church was still under the centuries-long oppression of the heterodox, so it actively participated in the liberation of the people and the creation of the national states. It is sad, nonetheless, that some, because of their ignorance of the teaching of the Church and the lack of love, as well as because of the personal interests of certain individuals in the Church, they gave the nation and the state an unsuitable place in the Church, and thus they created problems that still persist and tear down the one body of Christ’s Church.

The argument that each nation, only because it is different from another nation, should have an autocephalous Church is unsupported, as well as the case that a mature local church cannot be self-governed only because it does not have a different nation from the one that already has an autocephaly. The national affiliation cannot and mustn’t be the only criterion for independence. The Church measures by the criterion of maturity in the love and service, and by the pastoral needs, and not by the criterion of the inconsistent biological features. This is why there are so many problems with those who ask for autocephaly on the basis of the separateness of the nation and the state.

As far as the Orthodox Church in the Republic of Macedonia is concerned, with the decision of the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, it achieved autonomy (1959), which, after long negotiations and arrangements has been defined as “wide independence”, having left the issue of the restored Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric to be resolved “according to the canonic and catholic order of the Orthodox Church, having the pan-orthodox agreement of the Fullness of the Church in the Holy Spirit.”

But, autocephaly cannot be given to a hierarchy that asks for it not out of ecclesial but out of political reasons, to a hierarchy that has no knowledge of the ecclesiology of the Orthodox Church and does not implement the ecclesial organization of that church teaching, which has within its frames uncanonical bishops, tolerates them and co-officiates with them, and which refutes its given word and signatures put on official papers. Autocephaly is given to a Church when it will pass the test of maturity, and the amount of maturity of the hierarchy of the schismatic Macedonian Orthodox Church was shown recently. The Patriarchate of Pec can no longer be blamed, nor can the entire Orthodox Church be blamed, for reluctance to solve the problem with the schism in the Republic of Macedonia, just as no one can blame the Serbian Church to have national claims over the Macedonian people and their territory. This is clear from the overall position of our Church towards the Church in the Republic of Macedonia and the open brotherly summon into the holiest eucharistic unity with the ecumenical Orthodoxy.

It is very impudent and unverifiable to think and say that neither the Serbian Church nor any other Church in the world understands the pastoral needs of the Orthodox people in the Republic of Macedonia, just as the schismatic hierarchy of that country has lately been propagating. The problem of the schism splits the entire Church of God in the world and it is inappropriate to say that only the few people in Macedonia have a pastoral responsibility, and all the other bishops in the world are irresponsible. It is much better to open the problem as truth and justice and this is when a solution will be found in the spirit of care for the eternal unity in the Church and the salvation in Christ. Who gives the right to the hierarchy in the Republic of Macedonia to risk the salvation of an entire people just to please the worldly politicians? It can be seen that they have no pastoral concern for the people by their recent suggestion to enter into a unity with all the schismatic communities in the world, just as some of them, once before, coming to the Patriarchate said that they would even enter a communion with the black devil just to accomplish what they desire!

And the historical truth is that the Macedonian Orthodox Church, in 1967, with putschistic methods, that is, with a rebellion, without the blessing of the mother Church, but, also, without the blessing of any other orthodox Church in the World, proclaimed autocephaly, and being unrecognized by anyone, with this act separated from the one and only body of the Church of God. With this act, the schismatic organization became graceless secular institution, created by the communists to please their needs. The needs of the communists were clear, they wanted to destroy the unity of the Church on the territory of former Yugoslavia, so that it can control it more easily, and systematically destroy it, and another thing is that they wanted, through the newly-created schismatic organization, to control the Macedonian diaspora, which couldn’t be controlled by any other governmental agency.

What is more important than this historical truth is the eschatological truth, which is much clearer and simpler than the first one. No one can enter the future, that is, no one can inherit the Kingdom of Heaven if he is in a schism with the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. He can read from the same Bible that the Orthodox read, use the same service books that the Church uses, serve the same sacraments that the orthodox hierarchy serves, but despite all this, just as the Blessed Augustine says, he still won’t have salvation. This is where the Blessed Augustine and St. Cyprian of Carthage agree: they agree that the schism is a spiritual desolation which has no salvation.

Recently, we have established a canonical situation within the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric on the territory of the Republic of Macedonia, with a Synod of three bishops, canonically ordained and acknowledged by all the Orthodox Churches. So, the decade-long schism with the Church on the territory of today’s Republic of Macedonia has been surpassed. But, in spite of all that, unfortunately, most of the hierarchs and priests, under the pressure of the government in that country, still remain in a schism.

With this Christmas missive we would like once more, with brotherly love in the God-child, to call into eucharistic unity all the bishops, the honourable clergy, the reverend monastics and the venerable people in the Republic of Macedonia, so that they would meet the children of God together on the path to the Kingdom of God in the true faith, with hope and love in God, in the one, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. For the true Christians, the eternal salvation comes before all, and in the schism there is no salvation, this is how the Orthodox Church teaches. The one that doesn’t have the Church for a mother doesn’t have God for a Father.

We are summoned to unity in the God-child and the Church of God by the equal-to-the-apostles Cyril and Methodius, Nahum and Clement and the entire Church of Christ. We should have in mind that the holy city of Ohrid and Saint Clement of Ohrid were never in a schism with the ecumenical Church. It is shameful, before God and the people, to think that – that hearth of the Slavic sanctity and enlightenment could, today, be separated from the living root of God’s Catholic Church, giving joy to the enemies of the Macedonian people and state, and at the misfortune of all the people of God.

Hoping to receive a response to this humble and affectionate paternal call to the unity in the Church, the pillar and stronghold of the truth, we salute you all with the joyous Christmas greeting:



Your prayer before the newborn God-child
AEM and Patriarch of Serbia

+ Paul