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North Macedonia requests church autocephaly from Ecumenical Patriarch

North Macedonia’s President Stevo Pendarovski has appealed to the global seat of Orthodoxy in Istanbul to recognize the independence of his country’s Orthodox Church, Greek state-run news agency ANA-MPA reported on Monday.

“I turn to you, on behalf of a large portion of my fellow citizens, who identify themselves as Orthodox Christians and whose only wish and need is to reconcile with their close ones and focus on a common future, coexistence and true freedom,” Pendarovski told Vartholomeos in a letter quoted by North Macedonia’s MIA news agency.

“Let me ask Your Holiness to esteem the call of our people and our Church to use Your prerogative and finally give our citizens of the Orthodox Christian faith the opportunity to be equal with the other Orthodox Christians across the globe,” he added.

He said that the Ecumenical Patriarchate “is an example of how one can remain consistent in [their] values, but at the same time face the current challenges dynamically.”

The Orthodox Church of North Macedonia unilaterally declared its ecclesiastical independence from Serbia in 1967, but Serbia’s Church has blocked its recognition.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate has been examining a request to recognize the breakaway Church since May 2018.

In October 2018, the Patriarchate granted self-rule to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

He presented a decree of independence to the head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in January 2019.

The move was widely condemned by the Russian Church, which has since severed ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate.  {kathimerini]

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