Russian Church Wants Macedonian Church to Return to CommunionDiplomacy | April 29, 2012, Sunday // 17:15| views
Hilarion Alfeyev, bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church, metropolitan of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Department of External Church Relations and permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Moscow (C). File photo.
The Macedonian Orthodox Church should return to communion with the other orthodox churches across the world, stated Russian Church external relations chair bishop Hilarion in Sofia Sunday.
Metropolitan bishop Hilarion is part of a large ecumenical delegation to Bulgaria headed by Russian Patriarch Kirill.
"It is of utmost improtance for the Macedonian Orthodox Church to return to the field of cannonic communion," said Hilarion in an interview for the Bulgarian National Radio.
"I think that we should not hold to fast to terms such as autocephaly and autonomy. We must create a new model to both satisfy the Macedonian Church and to allow it to enter in communion with other cannonical Orthodox Churches," commented Hilarion.
In 1959, what is now the Macedonian Church was created as an autonomous Archbishopric of Ohrid, which was granted by the Serbian Orthodox Church.
In 1967, the Archbishopric declared autocephaly from the Serbian Orthodox Church, but has not been recognized as separate by other churches.
However, in 1874 the territories now claimed by the Macedonian Church were recognized as belonging not to the Serbian, but rather to the autonomous Bulgarian Exarchy, now succeeded by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
This has led some Bulgarian historians to claim that it is the Bulgarian Orthodox Church which has to claim that the Macedonian Church is in schism.
"It also of utmost importance that this question be settled via a dialogue between the Serbian and Macedonian churches. The Russian Orthodox Church is always ready to help in this process," said Hilarion.
He recalled that the Balkans are a very complex region and expressed his hope that Christian Orthodox values will persist there, something that he said the Russian Church has a deep commitment in.
Hilarion stressed the traditionally very good and warm relations between the Bulgarian and Russian Churches, which he said is now boosted by the fact that their patriarchs - Maxim and Kirill - have been good friends for decades.
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