The Struggle for a Bulgarian Church in Macedonia during the Revival Period - Списание "Македонски преглед"

четвъртък, 23 август 2018 г.

The Struggle for a Bulgarian Church in Macedonia during the Revival Period

The national Church Question was not merely a movement for the restoration of the Bulgarian autocephalous Church. Considering the specific structure of the Ottoman Empire, the national Church granted the status of millet, which in turn equaled cultural and national autonomy. Therefore, the Church Question was much more a political than a religious one, and thus – of paramount importance.  The Bulgarian Church Question, having started about 30 years prior, was put forward in its full weight in the post-Crimean War years (1853–1856). 

On Easter 1860 in St. Stephen’s Church in Constantinople, the Bulgarians renounced the Patriar- chate’s authority. The Easter Action, as the event would later remain in history, quickly attracted grand support from the people, but it took 10 years of persisting struggles to gain an official sanction in the form of the Sultan’s firman for the establishment of an independent Bulgarian church with the name “Exarchate”. 

In Macedonia, due to the more complicated circumstances, the movement – at first for liturgy in mother tongue and native bishops, and later for forsaking the Patriarchate and joining the self-affirming Bulgarian church – occurred with some delay and showed certain specifics, although in its essence it was not much different than that in the other Bulgarian lands. 

In order to avoid trivialities and annoying repetitions, in the course of this overview, only the more peculiar and significant episodes from the Church movement in Macedonia shall be presented here.  The problem was most quickly (although not thoroughly) solved in the Polenitsa (Doyran) bishopric. And it was not the Constantinople events than influenced the eparchy, but rather the other way around – this bishopric actually predetermined to a great extent the Easter Action of 1860.  

The Bulgarians in this place used an efficient method, although full of risks – a Union with the Catholic Church. What happened, more precisely? Kukush, a central city of the bishopric, had a lively Bulgarian spirit. Here in the course of some years taught Dimitar Miladinov (who came up with the idea for the creation of a local high school), and Rayko Zhinzifov. 

Over time, Kukush residents had tried to rid themselves of the Salonica-dependent metropolitan Meletios, and to obtain a fellow bishop. 

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