BELGRADE — The Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church says “a new escalation of persecution targeting priests of the Ohrid Archdiocese in Macedonia was disturbing”.
The Synod appealed “to domestic and international public to prevent it”, according to Tanjug.
Bishop of Bačka Irinej said the escalation of persecution against the Ohrid Archdiocese (which is under the jurisdiction of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC)) was “apparent not only in the prison sentence against Archbishop of the Ohrid Archdiocese Jovan Vraniskovski, but also in the arrests made on Monday that even included relatives of some priests”.
The SPC synod appealed to officials of all democratic countries, the OSCE and institutions and organizations for the protection of human rights and religious freedoms to provide any means of assistance and support, so the persecution of Archbishop Jovan and all the incarcerated priests would stop as soon as possible.
A Macedonian court issued orders for six people suspected of involvement in money laundering together with Vraniskovski to be remanded in custody, while thirteen more people had their travel documents taken away from them after a hearing before an investigative judge.
Five of the six suspects whom the court ordered to be detained are at large. The Association for the Improvement of Citizen and Religious Freedoms Anastasija is also under investigation. The organization was founded by Vraniskovski’s followers.
The SPC Ohrid Archdiocese is on trial in Macedonia because of its name, among other things, since the canonically unrecognized Macedonian Orthodox Church also claims right to that name.