Macedonian Orthodox Church

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The Macedonian Orthodox Church - Archdiocese of Ohrid or MOC (in Macedonian: Македонска Православна Црква or МПЦ) is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox fhurch of the Republic of North Macedonia. Formerly, it had separated from the Church of Serbia in 1967 with a unilateral declaration of autocephaly, which was not recognized by other Orthodox churches, considering it an archdiocese of the Church of Serbia .Communion was restored with the Serbian church in 2022. On 5 June 2022 the Macedonian Orthodox Church was granted full autocephaly[1], recognised by many Orthodox churches, including the Patriarchate of Constantinople.[2]


Formerly known as Vardarska Banovina (Province of the river Vardar), in March 1945, the People's Republic of Macedonia was created, as one of republics of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, governed by the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. In Skopje, a Resolution to create the Macedonian Orthodox Church was submitted to the Serbian patriarchate which had since 1919 exercised sole jurisdiction in the area. This resolution was rejected. During World War II there was also an initiative to create an Armenian-Macedonian Church in the territory of occupied Greece, but this plan was supported only by few ethnic Armenians and Aegean Macedonians in the zone of Kastoria. After the war another resolution, submitted in 1958, proposing the Ohrid Archdiocese of St. Clement as a Macedonian Orthodox Church, was accepted (June 17, 1959) under strong pressure from the Communist authorities. Dositej Stojković, auxiliary bishop of the Serbian patriarch, left Belgrade and was proclaimed the first Metropolitan of Skopje. In order to prevent schism, the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church granted autonomy to three Dioceses in Macedonia. A Macedonian was consecrated bishop. But two of them soon consecrated new bishops who were without the proper qualifications. Soon Macedonians started to organize churches in diaspora without approval of the Patriarch and bishops who were responsible for the dioceses in diaspora. During the so-called Third Clergy and Laity Assembly on July 19, 1967, in Ohrid, the Macedonian Orthodox Church was proclaimed as autocephalous with strong public support.

In 2022, communion was restored, with the Serbian Orthodox Church recognizing the Macedonian Orthodox Church - Archdiocese of Ohrid as autonomous. On 5 June 2022 the church was granted full autocephaly, recognised by many Orthodox churches, including the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Relations with the Autonomous Archdiocese of Ohrid

The two churches had been negotiating the details of a compromise agreement reached in Niš, Serbia in 2002, which would have given the Macedonians de facto independent status just short of canonical autocephaly. However, the agreement, signed by Metr. Jovan (Vraniskovski) from the Macedonian side, was rejected by the Macedonian government and the MOC's holy synod. In turn, the Serbian Orthodox Church granted full autonomy to the Archdiocese of Ohrid, its embattled branch in the Republic of Macedonia, in late May 2005 and appointed Jovan as its archbishop.

The later chain of events turned into a vicious circle of mutual accusations and incidents involving the patriarchate and, partly, the Serbian government on one side, and the MOC, backed by the Macedonian government on the other. The Macedonian side regarded Jovan as a traitor and Serbian puppet. Jovan complained of a new state-backed media campaign against his church. "They are creating an unstable, explosive atmosphere among the population and are virtually inviting people to lynch us," he told Forum 18 News Service.[3] The government has denied registration of his church[4], attacked its places of worship and launched a criminal case against him. He was arrested, removed from his bishopric and then expelled from the country. He returned in 2005 and, after attempting to perform a baptism, he was arrested, sentenced to 18 months in prison[5] and jailed with "extremely limited visitation rights."[6]

In September 2005 he was also accused of embezzlement of church funds at the time when he still was MOC clergyman. In turn, the patriarchate denied a Macedonian delegation access to the monastery of Prohor Pćinjski, which was the usual site of Macedonian celebration of the national holiday of Ilinden (St. Elijah) on August 2).[7] Macedonian border police often deny Serbian priests entry into the country in clerical garb.[8]

On March 19, 2006, following a successful court appeal, Abp Jovan was released after spending 220 days in prison.[9]

In August 2006, Abp Jovan was again convicted of embezzlement of MOC church funds and voluntarily surrendered himself to imprisonment after a short period in hiding. An appeal has been lodged on his behalf with the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

In 2023 in was the Serbian and Macedonian Church decided that the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric under Jovan is to be abolished, and its dioceses trasferred from the Serbian to the Macedonian Orthodox Church. As of 2023 its dioceses are in the process of mering into the Macedonian Orthodox Church. [10][11]


Since 1999, the Macedonian Orthodox Church has been headed by Archbishop Stefan of Ohrid and Macedonia. He presides over the Holy Synod of Hierarchs of the MOC, consisting of himself, and nine metropolitans and assistant bishops.

The 10 dioceses of the MOC are governed by ten bishops, with around 500 active priests in about 500 parishes with over 2000 churches and monasteries. The church claims jurisdiction over about 20 active monasteries, with more than 100 monks.

Dioceses in the territory of Republic of Macedonia

  1. Diocese of Skopje, headed by Archbishop Stefan of Ohrid and Macedonia;
  2. Diocese of Tetovo and Gostivar, headed by Metropolitan Josif;
  3. Diocese of Kumanovo and Osogovo, headed by Metropolitan Josif;
  4. Diocese of Debar and Kičevo, headed by Metropolitan Timotej;
  5. Diocese of Prespa and Pelagonia, headed by Metropolitan Petar;
  6. Diocese of Strumica, headed by Metropolitan Naum;
  7. Diocese of Bregalnica, headed by Metropolitan Ilarion;
  8. Diocese of Povardarie, headed by Metropolitan Agatangel

Dioceses abroad

  1. Diocese of America and Canada, headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Metodij
  2. Diocese of Australia and New Zealand, administered by His Eminence Metropolitan Petar
  3. Diocese of Europe, headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Pimen of Europe



See also

External links