the President of the Commission
for Relations with the Religious Communities in
the Republic of Macedonia

Protocol no.24 from 24 January 2004
Subject: Request for an opinion on the registration of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric

Revered Mr. Mojanovski

Compelled by the decision no. 16/2004 of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric, as a president of the same, We have the honour to inform You that on 25/12 December 2003 there was a constitutional session of the HSB of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric which is in the range of the autonomous Churches, such as: the Finish, the Estonian, the Ukrainian, and is recognized by all the Orthodox Churches in the world. This means that the canonical hierarchy of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric has a liturgical and canonical unity with all the orthodox Churches and is recognized as part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

It is an Episcopal Church, just as all orthodox Churches are, and this means that it has the following structure: a bishop (episcope), a presbyter, deacon and God’s congregation. For a local Church to be recognized as autonomous it is necessary to fulfil the condition of having at least three bishops in its Synod. With the constitution of the Holy Synod of Bishops this condition has been fulfilled, so since December 25, 2003, the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric functions as an autonomous Church. The episcopacy is domestic, the three of them are citizens of the R. Macedonia.

We emphasise this because in several of your recent statements, we suppose for political reasons, completely unsubstantiated, arbitrary and incompatible with you academic title, you speak and write of the threat of the Serbian hegemony spread by the Serbian Orthodox Church. In spite of you belonging to a somewhat older generation that finds it slightly more difficult to cope with the informatical society, still, because of the position you take you should be informed that all sorts of national-romanticism and nationalistic propagandas are outdated. No one in the world wants to rule territories, but to rule economies. Yet, because Your statements show that this is not very clear to You, we emphasise that all the episcopate in the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric is with a Macedonian citizenship and by origins Macedonian.

We would like to believe that you are not taken in by the provincial speculations about who are the traitors and who are the patriots of the Macedonian citizens, but Your statements do not give this impression, unless interpreted through the aspect of the daily-political needs of the institution that appointed you.

We write this to you because by putting yourself in defence of one religious community, in this case the schismatic episcopate that names itself the Synod of the MOC, You offend the religious feelings of those who do not wish to accept this episcopate as their own and do not want to follow them into the ultimate isolation and heresy to which they are being led. By observing Your statements one might think that You are utmost confused. Although standing at a responsible position where all information of the nature and operation of the religious communities arrive, You still haven’t understood that the schism is an essential need of some of the bishops who seat in the so-called Synod of the MOC. Through the schism they protect their own interests and their own canonical obstructions to have a clerical rank. We do not want to believe that they have engaged you to be their advocates.

In fact, You have a right to prefer one or another, even to aid the schismatic Synod, but because of the position you take You shouldn’t do this at the damage of the other citizens who have different religious beliefs than Your own. Still, allow us to say that We are not very convinced that you make a difference between a Church, a schism, a heresy or a sect. A Church exists when the above-mentioned structure exists but only when it has the recognition of the other Churches in the world. In the case when it is not recognised, the given structure is either a schism or a heresy. However, in this case, only the high hierarchy of the so-called MOC is in a schism which slowly transforms into a heresy. The people, that is, the believers, who can receive Communion, the body and blood of Christ in the temples and monasteries of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric and any other Orthodox Church in the world, are not in a schism. Only the so-called bishops of the schismatic Synod cannot do this, and wherever they go in the other orthodox Churches the rank they have will not be recognized.

So You, being a limb of the Government, which means the Government of the Republic of Macedonia, stand behind seven unrecognized bishops and protect their interests. These are not the interests of the MOC, because the real Macedonian Orthodox Church is the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric. This is the legitimate Church, recognized by all other Churches in the world, so whoever wants to be orthodox is welcome, the doors are open, and whoever wants to be schismatic let him be with the schismatic Synod. The Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric doesn’t mind the state having in its register the schismatics, just as it has in its list the various sects, but it does mind if the state apparatus prohibits its spiritual and pastoral functioning on the territory of the R. Macedonia.

We are saying all this in the context of the anticipated legislative changes for the operating of the religious communities. We believe that Your Learnedness is not unfamiliar with the fact that the Republic of Macedonia is a signer of the international conventions that guarantee the religious rights of the citizens. The Republic of Macedonia, as a candidate for the European Union shouldn’t, and in our opinion mustn’t present itself as a country similar to Saudi Arabia where people have no religious rights, although, until the present it has presented precisely that. Even today we are still suffering the humiliation and maltreatment exactly from the state apparatus to which You serve Mr. Mojanovski. But, being an episcope of the Church of God we are a successor of the apostolic tradition and we support their life, we suffer through this with the grace that God profusely endows, just as once the glorious apostles: Peter, Paul and all the rest who did not spare their lives for Christ, Who is “the path, the truth and life”. We even thank You for that, for with all the persecutions, maltreatments and humiliations undertaken by the “institutions of the system”, and suffered by our humbleness with God’s strength, You have made stronger those around us, You made the monks more decisive in their decision to approach us. Long ago it has been said: “The blood of the martyrs is seed for new Christians”. Indeed, You still haven’t spilled blood, but Your maltreatments are utterly uncivilized. By barging in and searching the private apartments of the believers, by not registering firms and associations of citizens to those for whom you suspect to be members of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric and by openly siding with a schismatic Synod, you humiliate the reputation of the Orthodoxy on these early-Christian territories, as well as the reputation of the state before the international institutions that are interested in the human rights.

It is not ours to warn you that your political estimate is wrong. These people for whom you think support you, tomorrow, when they find out the truth, they will curse you. Because of the embargo for public appearance in the media, the people are uninformed for the nature of the problem of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric. But, we won’t be uncomfortable in blaming you for this as well, for in alliance with the schismatic Synod of the MOC you come out before the public, you humiliate and offend the believers of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric and you did not ask for its representative to come out with you. Not only because this is not democratic, since regarding the religious rights and freedom the Republic of Macedonia doesn’t even have a “D” of the word, but because it is very provincial to sit with someone and gossip a person not present.

And finally to give the reason for this letter to You. We ask of You to inform us in the shortest period possible whether the Commission for relations with the religious communities has any need to register in the registry of the religious communities the existence of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric? We believe You are familiar with the fact that this name is older than the Macedonian state. In all civilized countries, a Church older than the state in its continuity is just accepted by the same, without the need to apply for registration. However, because although as a state we are still very far from democracy, even from civilization, if one judges according to the religious rights and freedom of the believers of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric, we submit this request that you give us and opinion to whether there is a need for registration of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric in the registry of the religious communities?

It essentially exists, it has the necessary number of members who would give their signatures in case of registration, but instead of the necessary number of 50 people foreseen by the Legislation of the religious communities and religious groups, the following day, after we receive Your answer, we will give you 500 signatures of our members, and in a few days 5000 if you require them. We are writing this so that you will not underestimate the political power of the members of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric, because, as we said before, you have a wrong estimate in your taking sides. Then again this is irrelevant and Your only duty is to follow the legal procedure regarding our request, and the rest will come later. Of course we believe in the deep responsibility that You will carry, especially now when the Republic of Macedonia is applying for acceptance into the European Union.

Having in mind that you might prolong the answer to this request under the excuse that you do not respond because the court has not registered an entity with the name Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric, we leave You the possibility to answer us as to a natural person who has sent the above request to the address:

Jovan Vranshikovski
Ul. Kochanska no. 2/23
Bitola 7000

Christ is born!

President of the Holy Synod of Bishops
+ John
Metropolitan of Veles and Povardarje and Exarch of Ohrid