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The Third Orthodox Christian Episcopal Assembly of Oceania

The members of the 3rd Episcopal Assembly of all canonical Orthodox Bishops of Oceania welcomed once again the opportunity to meet in Sydney from October 14-15, 2012, under the chairmanship ex officio of His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos of Australia. The Assembly commenced with prayer at the central offices of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia. Present were:

His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos (Ecumenical Patriarchate)

His Grace Bishop Irinej (Serbian Church)

His Grace Bishop Mihail (Romanian Church)

His Eminence Metropolitan Amphilochios (Ecumenical Patriarchate – New Zealand)

His Grace Bishop Ezekiel (Assistant Bishop)

His Grace Bishop Seraphim (Assistant Bishop)

His Grace Bishop Nikandros (Assistant Bishop)

His Grace Bishop Iakovos (Assistant Bishop)

The Very Reverend Father Michael Protopopov (Representing His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church)

Reverend Father Michael Smolynec and Very Reverend Father Wolodymyr Lulka (Representing His Eminence Archbishop Ioan of Parnassou of the Ukranian Orthodox Church in the Diaspora).

It should be noted that Metropolitan Paul Saliba of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia and New Zealand, was not present at this assembly, due to attending the emergency meetings of Antiochian Orthodox hierarchs which were convened by His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatios. The meetings dealt with discussing the ever-worsening situation and civil strife gripping the Middle East and how the Church and its leadership could respond to the region’s ongoing conflicts.

Nevertheless the Bishops of the Third Episcopal Assembly continued the work of the Second Assembly, held in Sydney in October last year. They carefully listened to the pastoral challenges confronting our respective Churches and heard the Reports of the relevant Committees, noting with pleasure the progress that has been made in the following areas:

*1. The realisation of a Synaxis meeting of Hierarchy and Clergy of all canonical jurisdictions, on Monday 30th April 2012, in Melbourne, for the purpose of furthering brotherly relations in order to carry out the decisions of the Assembly on a local level. The plans are already in place for continuing such Synaxes in Sydney and Auckland (New Zealand) with the anticipation of doing so in other major Australian cities as well;

*2. The timely celebration of the 1,700th Anniversary of the Edict of Milan (2013), which historically granted religious tolerance, given that today’s religious freedom is being challenged. In realisation of the same, a sub-committee is being formed under the chairmanship of His Grace Bishop Seraphim;

*3. The formation of the Orthodox Christian Chaplaincy Council of Victoria (OCCCV) and subsequent appointment of its first co-ordinator (Mr Daniel Bellis) for Hospital Chaplaincy in Victoria;

*4. In accordance with the aim of issuing responsible joint statements on the ethical dimensions of proposed Government legislation, the Assembly issued on 22nd March 2012 its first statement for the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in Canberra regarding the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2012; and

*5. The official website of the Assembly, that will inform our faithful of its work and provide a source of information including a catalogue of Canonical Orthodox Clergy and Parishes of Oceania, is currently under construction and nearing completion.

It was unanimously agreed that:

*1. In concert with the Mother Churches, this Assembly will establish a common practice for the receiving of Orthodox Christians coming from ambiguous and/or non-canonical ecclesiastical circumstances; and

*2. The Assembly decries the unlawful imprisonment of Archbishop Jovan of Ochrid and Metropolitan of Skopje and the continued persecution of the members of the Archdiocese of Ochrid and members of his family. Further to this, the Assembly calls upon the Government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to immediately release Archbishop Jovan and to cease and desist persecuting the Archdiocese of Ochrid, whilst calling upon our faithful to join in prayer on behalf of Archbishop Jovan.

Dated 15th October, 2012.

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  1. We received a comment from Kimberley C which could not be processed and published by the weblog, so on Kimberley’s behalf we publish the following comment, but I cannot verify the truth of this statement since I am not exactly aware of the ecclesial circumstances of the Archdiocese of Ochrid and the Metropolis of Skopje:

    “In 1958 another “Church-People’s Council” was held in Skopje. At this council, the Church in Macedonia declared itself autonomous and elected Bishop Dositej of Toplica to be Archbishop of Ohrid and Skopje and Metropolitan of Macedonia. No other bishop was present at this election, and he received his insignia and scepter from a priest and a layman respectively. Compelled by the Communist authorities, the assembly of Serbian bishops accepted the internal autonomy of the Archdiocese of Ohrid within the Serbian Church, but did not accept it as an autocephalous, or completely independent, Orthodox Church.” -Kimberley C.

  2. Hierarchs of Serbian Orthodox Church allowed to visit Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid for the first time

    Skopje, August 26, 2013

    The Clergy have been allowed for the first time to visit imprisoned Archbishop Jovan (Vraniskovski) of Ohrid, head of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Ohrid, reports the official website of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

    On August 23, 2013, for the first time over a year and nine months in prison, Archbishop Jovan has obtained a permit to meet with his brethren in faith; he has been visited in the Idrizovo prison by Bishops Joakim of Polog and Kumanovo, Mark of Bregalnica, and David of Stobi.

    Earlier, the Hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church who are close to him were each time refused a meeting with him, without any explanation for the refusal.

    Archbishop Jovan has assured the Hierarchs who visited him that he is well, has forwarded his Archpastoral blessing to all the flock of the Archdiocese of Ohrid, and calls upon them to retain joy in their hearts under these very different life circumstances.

    Archbishop Jovan is serving his sentence of 2.5 years on charges of alleged appropriation of Church funds during his stay in the jurisdiction of the Macedonian Orthodox Church, which is not recognized as a canonical jurisdiction in the Orthodox world.


    29 / 08 / 2013

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