the Presidential Candidates
of the Republic of Macedonia

Protocol no.77 from 02.04.2004

Dear Gentlemen Presidential Candidates,

Obliged with the decision of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric, in this period of the election campaign for a President of the Republic of Macedonia, we wish to remind you that you should declare your positions on the solution of the church issue in the Republic of Macedonia. Whether someone likes it or not, in the Republic of Macedonia there is a serious religious problem which, unfortunately, as such, has spread out of the borders of our country.

The Republic of Macedonia has been characterized, in international frames, as a country in which there are religious clashes. The remark might be – it is neither the first nor the last. And this is true, but Macedonia is among the few states in which there is an organized governmental persecution of the members of one religious confession. So, the clashes are not simply inter-confessional, but with the interference of the state they become political.

It is a great pity that the seven bishops of the MOC, which is not recognized by any of the Orthodox Churches in the world, have managed to persuade the government authorities to work only for their personal interests, against the interests as of the state also of the Church. At their urging, the state undertook persecutions, arrests and trials of episcopes, priests, even of nuns (women), methods familiar only to the most extreme bolshevism. The political leaders got involved into theological problems and arguments of which they have no knowledge and where they should not be.

For all of the abovementioned harassments, the members of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric had and will always have the most powerful weapon, love. When they persecute us we give them love. When they imprison us we bless them, for this is how Christ taught us to do, this is the sermon of the apostles, this is the faith that enlightened the universe.

The Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric de facto exists as a Church. Humiliated, as once was its founder Christ; in catacombs, as once in Rome during Nero’s persecutions; but with a bright and clear future. Based on truth, its end is the Kingdom of God. This is where the strength to endure comes from in these days of persecution for all the members of the only recognized Orthodox Church on the territory of the Republic of Macedonia, the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric.

The unrecognized MOC has long been in a spiritual ghetto. The consequence of the absolute ecclesiastical isolation is the incessant deterioration in all the spheres of the spiritual life. You are well acquainted with the reputation of the dignitaries of the unrecognized MOC among the believing, but also among the non-believing people in the Republic of Macedonia. There is no co-officiation with any of the Orthodox Churches; there is no inter-university cooperation; there is no participation at international symposiums. And all of this happens with the “aid” of the state.

What we as a Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric think as your duty to answer in your election campaign is the following:

Only if there is a healthy Church there can be a healthy future for the state and the generations to come. No one should fear the Church as its political competitor. Only the bolshevist did this. By thus supporting the unrecognized MOC, the state leaders act as if they wish to remove the Church from the social events, for on many occasions it has been proven that the MOC has no or only destructive influence in the social events.

Having in mind the above given facts it would be polite to grace us with an answer to the following question, which is of great importance to us, and all those who follow the situation with the religious rights and freedoms in the Republic of Macedonia: When will the status of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric be legalized, in other words, when will it be registered as a religious community, since after to requests addressed to the Commission for relations with the religious communities and religious groups we still have not received an answer, although we meet all the conditions to be registered?

President of the Holy Synod of Bishops
Of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric
+ John
Metropolitan of Veles and Povardarje