Macedonian and Bulgarian Churches to unite

The Macedonian Orthodox Church has asked to become part of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. Both sides are currently examining the details of such an arrangement. The Macedonian Orthodox Church separated from the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1967, but its independence was only recognised by the Patriarchy in Sofia. What does this union mean for the churches and societies of Macedonia and Bulgaria?

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Dnevnik (BG) /

Church setting a good example

Dnevnik sees the closer ties between the orthodox churches of Bulgaria and Macedonia in the context of the political and social thaw between the two states:

“The letter from the Macedonian Orthodox Church to Bulgaria's Holy Synod is a sign of its willingness to contemplate their joint future from a different, far broader perspective. The political narrative about the bloodshed during the wars is to be complemented with a narrative of friendship between the Bulgarian Church and the Archbishop of Ohrid. In this way the Bulgarian-Macedonian relationship is being moved forward from the past into the present, which shows us that we need to come closer to each other before we can jointly approach the rest of the world.”

24 Chasa (BG) /

An affront to the other Orthodox churches

By accepting the Macedonian Orthodox Church's application to be annexed the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is putting itself on a collision course with the other Orthodox churches, theologian Blagovest Varbakov writes in an opinion piece for 24 Chasa:

“With its decision the Bulgarian Church conveys the impression to the Serbian patriarchy that the latter is not entitled to become the mother church of the Macedonian Church. ... This is likely to infuriate the [Serbian patriarch] Irinej. ... The Russian patriarch Kirill is also unlikely to give his blessing, because that would mean he would have to do the same for the Ukrainian Church which has been campaigning for its autocephaly [autonomy as a church] for decades.”