Yesterday, 11 May, after years of persecution, harassment, arrests, and imprisonment, His Beatitude Jovan Vraniškovski, Archbishop of Ohrid and Metropolitan of Skopje, renowned throughout all of Orthodoxy and recognised canonical prelate of the ancient Autonomous Archbishopric of Ohrid, received a sentence of 2½ years in prison under false charges of alleged fraud and embezzlement. This was the result of a politically-motivated and staged Stalinist pseudo-trial, an event obviously demanded by the schismatic organisation calling itself the “Macedonian Orthodox Church”. The only reason for his sentence was his unwavering commitment to the unity of Christ’s Church. He insisted on being in communion with the SPC, thereby being in union with universal Orthodoxy worldwide; he waged a persistent spiritual battle against the schismatic mentality and opposed anti-Ecclesiastical ethno-phyletism.
In contemporary Europe, if not in the whole civilised world, this case was unique; the authorities formally ordered the performance of an act of vicious violence and atrocity upon the Orthodox Church and Her lawful senior representatives. In the process, they flagrantly violated both their own laws and international norms and conventions. Fortunately, several diplomats, along with Orthodox figures, as well as members of organisations and institutions dedicated to the protection of human rights and religious freedom, attended the “trial”, and, thus, we can make an accurate report and present a clear picture of the sad and ugly scene staged in the Veles courtroom to the public.
The Holy Synod of the SPC, the canonical Mother Church of the Autonomous Archbishopric of Ohrid, condemns with the deepest moral indignation the unrivalled violence and persecution conducted under the guise of legal order; we always keep the Autonomous Archbishopric of Ohrid in our prayers and in all evangelical love, especially with their Shepherd, who gladly accepted and endures suffering for our forefathers’ faith as well as for the unity of Christ’s Holy Orthodox Church. In summation, the Holy Synod of the SPC calls upon:
- all sister Orthodox Churches throughout the oikumene
- all other Christian Churches in the world
- the World Council of Churches, the Conference of European Churches, and other Christian organisations
- the spiritual leaders of major world religions
- the governments and relevant public authorities of legally-recognised states
- international institutions
- institutions and organisations devoted to human rights and religious freedom
- all people of good will
to provide spiritual, moral, legal, and any other possible support to the prisoner of conscience Archbishop Jovan, and to contribute to his release from prison as soon as possible.
12 May 2012
Official Website of the Autonomous Archbishopric of Ohrid