SPC bishop in favor of Macedonian autocephaly

BELGRADE -- Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) Bishop Lavrentije says that the Macedonian Church should be given autocephalous status.

The long-standing dispute between the two churches should be solved without the assistance of the state organs, he told the Belgrade-based tabloid Blic.

He announced that a debate about "a normalization of relations" with the canonically unrecognized Macedonian Orthodox Church could be discussed as the SPC Assembly meets in May of next year.

But the SPC Holy Synod would first have to launch such an initiative, the bishop explained, and added:

"I believe that such an initiative would be welcomed with open arms in Macedonia. Almost all Orthodox churches are autocephalous, why wouldn't the same be true of the Macedonia Church. This needs to be arranged canonically."

Lavrentije also commented on President Tomislav Nikolić's initiative for the two states to help the churches in overcoming their problems, to say that it was "honorable and sincere", but that the issues in question should be solved by the religious authorities themselves.