After years of persecutions, the Macedonian authorities have ended up confiscating His Beatitude Jovan’s passport on July 9, without giving any reason why. Archbishop of Ohrid and Metropolitan of Skopje, he is currently the only canonical Orthodox bishop serving in Macedonia.
Under Archbishop Jovan’s leadership, the Ohrid Archbishopric separated from the schismatic Macedonian church sixteen years ago, in order to reunite with the Serbian Church. Consequently, His Beatitude was sent for many years in prison. He was freed only three years ago, but then the authorities restarted to harass him.
This latest violation to religious freedom could be a way to upset the celebrations for the 1,000th anniversary of the Archbishopric of Ohrid. Tensions are currently high, as the schismatic Macedonian church is actually seeking canonical recognition as an autocephalous Church, helped by the Bulgarian Church.
The schismatic Macedonian Orthodox Church is right now the majority church in the country. But the European Court of Human Rights recently ruled that the Republic of Macedonia is guilty of violating the rights of the canonical Ohrid Archbishopric, by refusing to register it as a separate religious community, and has asked the government to pay damages to the Orthodox Archbishopric of Ohrid.