In an exclusive interview to the Orthodox Research Center “Chrism”, Bishop David (Ninov) of Stobia, Vicar of the Archbishop of Ohrid, spoke about the problem of church schism in North Macedonia, which increasingly resembles the situation in Ukraine. According to the hierarch, politicians who want to use the schismatic “MOC” (the so-called “Macedonian Orthodox Church”) for their temporary political purposes influence the current situation the most, reports Mitropolija.
“Following the example of their colleagues from Ukraine, the politicians of North Macedonia, violating the secular nature of the state defined by the Constitution, take on the role of leaders of the schismatic “MOC” and send letters to the heads of Churches on behalf of the “MOC”. Thus, they humiliate the “MOC”, presenting it as incapable of solving their problems. When the momentary politics relaxes their grip on the “MOC” at least slightly, one can expect a solution to the problem,” said Bishop David.
Answering the question on what advice the bishop can give to the believers of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, who are also subjected to discrimination and violence today, the bishop said:
“St. Cyprian of Carthage emphasized that even the blood of martyrs cannot wash away the sin of schism. The attitude in the spirit of Holy Tradition, which is often emphasized by our Archbishop [John of Ohrid], is that we do not ask for suffering, but when God allows it, we are ready to receive it as a blessing, as our cross, through which we achieve resurrection. You cannot be resurrected without being crucified on the cross. Today, Orthodox Christians of Ukraine are called to testify to the purity of the Orthodox faith by their belonging and loyalty to the canonical Church of Ukraine, the Primate of which is His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine.”
Bishop David noted that the trials and persecutions faced by Orthodox Ukrainians today will help them gain “an exceptionally rich experience of inner life, an experience that cannot be obtained in any university,” and these very trials will help them to obtain a “spiritual doctoral degree.” And this experience will be the most valuable legacy for future generations.
“The tests will pass, according to the words of St. John Chrysostom, who said about difficult life circumstances: “This cloud shall pass”! The cloud of persecution against Metropolitan Onuphry and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church will pass, and the confession of faith will remain forever and ever, recorded in the Book of Life,” emphasized Bishop David.
He also expressed the opinion that the believers of the canonical Church, headed by His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry, should not remain passive, but should “deconstruct the unjust system by all legal means” and, reaching up to the highest courts, actively fight discrimination, violation of the rule of law in the field of human rights and religious freedom.
“The believers of the Church should turn to all those who persecute them and cause them suffering, in the words of the Holy Martyr Plato: torture me even more, so that your inhumanity may be seen even more plainly; meanwhile, the humility and glory of the Church will be seen even more clearly. To paraphrase the words of St. Porphyrios of Kafsokalivia, we must not and will not try to expel darkness from our lives, because this can exhaust us, and we will not achieve anything. We should joyfully strive to be professionals who will let the light of Christ into our lives, and then the darkness will simply disappear,” concluded Bishop David.
North Macedonia belongs to the canonical territory of the Serbian Patriarchate, the legal Primate of the North Macedonian community of believers is Archbishop John (Vranishkovsky) of Ohrid, who is subordinate to the Patriarch of Serbia. Since its inception in 2002, the Orthodox Archdiocese of Ohrid has suffered from persecution by the North Macedonian authorities, and Archbishop John is constantly being prosecuted on trumped-up and false charges.