Archbishop Jovan (John) VI

Stop the terror, persecution
and discrimination on religious grounds
conducted by the Government of FYROMacedonia!

Dean Mr Michael Tritos: the imprisonment of Archbishop Jovan is a stain and disgrace for the 21st century civilization!

Filed under: General — January 27, 2014 @ 7:18 pm

The Dean of the Faculty of Theology at the state University of Aristotle in Thessaloniki, Professor Michael Tritos, whose field of expertise is the history of the Slavic Churches, on the occasion of the passed two years of imprisonment of Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid, for Romfea, expressed his personal stance in regard to this subject:

“The case of the imprisonment of Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid represents a stain, and disgrace for the 21st century civilization and for the international human rights and religious freedoms organizations. This hierarch-martyr is being continuously convicted by the criminal courts in Skopje, because he had the courage to proclaim that the ‘macedonian’ church of Skopje is schismatic, since it violates the basic principles of orthodox ecclesiology and prefers ethnophiletistic goals.

Unfortunately, a country that claims it respects the human rights and which tends to join NATO and the European Union, is actually supporting an authoritarian regime, with the silent inaction and indifference of the European Union and the United States of America!

We believe that the solution for the problem of the church in Skopje, in the present conditions, shows great difficulties, due to the stifling embrace of the state upon this church, and its utilization as a public service for purposes foreign to its spiritual mission.

In order to have positive development of this issue, the following preconditions should be met:

  1. Immediate release of Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid, who already passed two years in imprisonment, in the Idrizovo prison, in Skopje.
  2. The authorities should leave freedom to the Church, so that she fulfills its spiritual goals.
  3. The Schismatic church should ask for forgiveness from the mother – church of Serbia, for the coup by which it had separated, and to acknowledge as anti-canonical its actions since 1967 until today.
  4. To accept the name of the luminous Archbishopric of Ohrid, and not of Macedonia.

Under these preconditions, it is possible that initially autonomy is granted, following the example of Finland and Estonia, and later – why not – autocephaly as well.

In that way, an open wound in the body of the Orthodox Church would be closed, and the one-and-a-half million Orthodox that live in Skopje would cease to be victims of every kind of proselytism.”


Patriarch Irinej of Serbia, for Christmas, sent an appeal to the authorities of R. Macedonia and to the international community, for releasing of Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid

Filed under: General — January 9, 2014 @ 1:45 pm

His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia, in his most recent epistle for Christmas, which he delivered to the public on January 3, 2014, addressed the state persecution on religious basis that is performed against Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid and the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric.

In the epistle, Patriarch Irinej of Serbia sent an appeal to the authorities of R. Macedonia and to the international community:

“We wish a virtuous and blessed Christmas to our imprisoned brother and concelebrant, Archbishop of Ohrid and Metropolitan of Skopje Jovan, and all his persecuted and suffering Orthodox Church in the Republic of Macedonia. The government there holds him imprisoned unjustly, and they prohibit freedom of faith and conscience to his faithful flock because they have decided for the unity of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. That ethno-phyletistic schism is the biggest tragedy of our Church in the Republic of Macedonia. Unfortunately, schismatics have placed politics and ethno-phyletism above the unity of the Church.

We appeal to the government of the Republic of Macedonia to immediately and without delay release our father, brother and concelebrant the Archbishop of Ohrid and Metropolitan of Skople Jovan, and to afford full rights and freedom as guaranteed by law to God’s Church, the Archdiocese of Ohrid.

We also appeal to the international community, who before their very eyes see how basic human and religious rights are being violated in the Republic of Macedonia, that they take the measures necessary to prevent further discrimination against the Church and her people.”


Prof. Mirjana Najcevska, Ph.D.: imprisoning Archbishop Jovan in the detention prison was torture by the authorities

Filed under: General — December 17, 2013 @ 1:38 pm

R. Macedonia’s Parliamentary Committee on Political System and Inter-Ethnic Relations, on December 12 and 13, 2013, organized a public hearing on the subject: “Analysis of the respect of the constitutionally guaranteed right to presumption of innocence, the findings regarding the abuse of the measure detention, violation of the freedom of speech and the freedom of the media, as well as the right for public protest in R. Macedonia”.

Politicians, officials, professors, journalists and citizens of R. Macedonia took part as witnesses in the hearing.

Taking part in the hearing was also the expert on human rights, university professor Mirjana Najcevska Ph.D., who in her exposition, amongst other issues, spoke of the treatment of Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid by the authorities, undoubtedly naming his imprisonment in the detention prison as – method of torture by the authorities! Namely, despite the fact that he was already in prison, as soon as the new staged court process against him began, Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid was transferred to detention prison, where he spent one whole year in severe and substandard conditions!

What was loudly spoken by prof. Mirjana Najcevska Ph.D, in the Assembly of R. Macedonia is certainly known to everybody, starting from the fact that what is happening to Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid had not happened to anyone in our recent history! It is a disgraceful school example of state torture on religious basis, taking into account that in the last eleven years Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid is imprisoned for the seventh time, and by a new verdict, he is being sentenced to an additional three years of imprisonment! This is known to everyone, but only few are not afraid to speak of it publicly!

We are addressing an appeal to the domestic and the international public, for ceasing the mentioned torture on religious basis, for taking in account the calls of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, of the World Council of the Churches, of the Conference of European Churches, for looking into the international reports that speak of the violation of the religious freedoms in R. Macedonia, and for finding the strength for immediate release from prison of Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid, and for respecting the religious beliefs of the Church whose prelate he is, the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric, with the purpose of reaching the high standards of the advanced democracies, and for a better future of all citizens of our homeland.


Stojan Andov: the verdicts against Archbishop Jovan are incomprehensible to the civilized world!

Filed under: General — November 17, 2013 @ 10:46 am

The first President of the pluralistic Assembly of R. Macedonia, who on three terms presided the Assembly, the renowned politician Stojan Andov, in his article in the weekly magazine “Fokus” (nr. 942, from 25.10.2013) once again spoke of the court verdicts against Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid and Metropolitan of Skopje.

The Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric has already indicated that the intervention of the state through the interference of the judiciary, for providing the Macedonian Orthodox Church (MOC) a religious monopoly, makes our country a factor of instability in the region!

We are witnesses that the court which persistently denies the registration of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric is the same court which sentenced Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid to three years of imprisonment, and the other Bishops, monastics and faithful people of the Archbishopric to a conditional prison sentence. In that way, the court has turned into an instrument of persecution of the religious freedoms in our homeland, causing destruction of the civilization values!

In his article, Stojan Andov writes that not a small number of court processes are received as purges of stalinistic character of the elements that are considered inappropriate by the authorities, and that is exactly what leads our homeland towards a dangerous state. He also highlights that: “the verdicts against Bishop Jovan Vraniskovski, for the civilized world, are of incomprehensible reasons, and are regarded as an outcome of the government’s insisting to court sentences motivated by religious intolerance!”

In the direction of respecting the human rights and religious freedom, it is necessary for the government to fully liberate itself from the communist heritage of persecution of the Church, the politicians and the publicity to liberate themselves from the memory of conflicts, in order to be able to pass from a state of conflict to a state of conciliation. The normalization of the state of the respecting of religious freedoms is one of the basic conditions without which it is not possible to continue on the path towards the advanced democratic polities!


The World Council of Churches condemned the imprisonment of Archbishop Jovan and the violation of the religious freedom of the Orthodox believers in R. Macedonia

Filed under: General — November 14, 2013 @ 6:12 pm

The Tenth General Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) is taking place in Busan, South Korea, from 30 October to 8 November. Taking part in the assembly are 2.190 representatives of the topical Orthodox Churches, the Anglican and Protestant communities, as well as observers of the Roman-Catholic and other Churches that are not members of the WCC, who assembled to discuss the most important issues regarding the Christianity in the world.

The World Council of Churches has expressed deep concern over the issue of respecting the rights of the Orthodox believers R. Macedonia. During the General Assembly, the Council issued a public Statement about the politicization of religion and the rights of religious minorities, stating:

“The Government of R. Macedonia categorically denied the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric the right to register as a religious community. The government’s involvement in the legal system of the country resulted in the unlawful confinement of the head of this Church.”

The World Council of Churches urged the governments of all countries to strengthen the mechanisms that would ensure survival and protection of the rights of religious minorities. Furthermore, the states are encouraged to implement anti-discrimination laws in order to protect individuals and communities that are being persecuted for professing their faith.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew: our beloved brother, Archbishop Jovan is persecuted solely because of his adherence to the canonical Church

Filed under: General — October 13, 2013 @ 6:37 pm

In his homily during the Divine Liturgy which he officiated during the celebration of 1700 years of the Edict of Milan, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew spoke of several burning issues for the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church.

Patriarch Bartholomew also indicated the persecution that is being performed against Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid and the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric, the canonical Church in FYR Macedonia! In his addressing, he stated:

“… furthermore, in our orthodox ecclesiastical milieu, various schisms, apostasies, and even heresies are appearing; thieves and robbers who do not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climb in by some other way (John 10, 2-3). Hierarchs are being persecuted, as for example His Beatitude and our beloved brother, Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid; priests, monastics and faithful people are being persecuted because they respect the canonical order, they recognize their spiritual adherence to the canonical Churches and they do not enlist in the anti-canonical – supported by various state factors – seemingly ecclesiastical formations, and thus, as the blessed John the Chrysostom says, they are being persecuted “only because the bear Christ’s name”.

Every soberly-thinking man will understand that these words are loudly witnessing across the world, that the state apparatus of FYR Macedonia is not capable of practicing the Edict of Milan, hence it demonstrates that our homeland is brought back to the times before the Edict and not all citizens are equally allowed to enjoy religious freedoms!

Despite all this, may St Constantine the Great be a motivation and an example for every political leader!

It should not be forgotten that the Edict of Milan was signed by two Emperors who at the time of the signing were not Christians, but they knew what was the interest of the state: “may each one have the free opportunity to worship as he pleases; this regulation is made that we may not seem to detract from any dignity of any religion” (from the text of the Edict of Milan)!

No matter how hard they try to mislead and misinform the domestic public by spreading untruths about Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid and the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric, the reality is revealing them, hence certain political figures, schismatics and journalists in the Orthodox world are being recognized exactly as those who raise their hands against Christ himself!


The Assembly of Canonical Bishops of America urged the faithful to pray for the release of Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid

Filed under: General — October 1, 2013 @ 10:13 am

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America (, held its fourth annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois. Forty-three Bishops representing eleven Church jurisdictions were present at the meeting. At the end of the meeting, an official announcement was published.

During the Assembly, the Bishops devoted time also to the state persecution on religious basis, which is performed upon Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid and the canonical Church in R. Macedonia, the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric. In the mentioned announcement, the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America states:

“We have also been apprised and are deeply concerned about the arrest and detention of Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as a result of exercising his fundamental human right of religious freedom. We urge our faithful to stand in prayer and solidarity for a prompt and positive resolution to this issue.”


Stojan Andov: Archbishop Jovan is a political prisoner

Filed under: General — September 22, 2013 @ 7:08 am

The first President of the pluralistic Assembly of FYR Macedonia, Mr Stojan Andov is one more renowned FYR Macedonian politician who indicates to the domestic public that Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid is a political prisoner!

In his article for the weekly magazine “Fokus” (issue 935, 06.09.2013), Mr Stojan Andov stresses that serious warnings are being sent by the international community in regard to the political prisoners in FYR Macedonia, amongst which Mr Stojan Andov is highlighting the name of Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid.

It is not the first time that some distinguished FYR Macedonian politician, as is Mr Stojan Andov, who was on three terms the President of the Assembly of FYR Macedonia, publicizes that Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid is a political prisoner.

The former Prime minister of FYR Macedonia, Mr Ljubco Georgievski, in an interview also underlined that for him it was an undisputable fact that Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid was a political prisoner (“Fokus”, issue 891/892, 27.07.2012) and that the church issues in FYR Macedonia should not be solved by persecutions and imprisonments of Bishops, monastics and faithful people of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric (A1on, 30.05.2012).

In the last 11 years, the proverbial Macedonian judiciary has for the seventh (7) time placed Archbishop Jovan behind bars! He is today in the Idrizovo prison, with visibly deteriorated health!

In the passed years, in FYR Macedonia the respecting of the religious freedoms is being seriously violated, and the government is continuing to protect the monopoly of one church, on the account of the others, which distances it from the standards of the advanced democracies.

Absence of state persecution on religious basis and full respect of the religious freedoms of all citizens equally – that is the required condition for FYR Macedonia to join the societies with high civilizational achievements!


First visit to Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid, in the Idrizovo prison

Filed under: General — August 30, 2013 @ 6:04 pm

On December 12, 2011, His Beatitude Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid and Metropolitan of Skopje was imprisoned in the Idrizovo prison, near Skopje.

After one year and almost nine months in a prison cell, Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid was for the first time given the opportunity for a one-time visit of his brothers Bishops of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric, in the visiting area of the Idrizovo prison.

On August 23, 2013, Their Graces, Bishop Joakim of Polog and Kumanovo and Administrator of Debar and Kicevo, Bishop Marko of Bregalnica and Administrator of Bitola and Bishop David of Stobi and Administrator of Strumica, visited His Beatitude Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid and Metropolitan of Skopje, and had brief conversation with him, conveying to him the love, but also the plead of the faithful people, for his blessing and prayers.

Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid ensured the Bishops that he was feeling slightly better with his health, and he sends to all members of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric his archpastoral blessing, encouraging them to keep their joy always, in the various life circumstances.


The Economist: A bishop behind bars - Theology in Handcuffs

Filed under: General — July 28, 2013 @ 5:30 pm

IN A recent posting, I noted that the European Union had put forward some detailed ideas about how religious freedom should be fostered outside its borders; and also that it still gave its own 28 members lots of leeway in handling church-state relations. That is not just a hypothetical point. Countries that aspire to join the EU find their governance, legal systems and performance on human rights (including religious freedom) scrutinised closely; once they squeeze through the gates, the pressure slackens.

As it happens, there is one would-be EU member whose recent record on religious freedom may fall short of the standard which the Union, albeit a tad hypocritically, expects from its aspiring neighbours. If the country were already inside the door, it might get off more lightly. But that doesn’t make things any better. The country in question is Macedonia, where an internationally recognised Christian bishop has been locked up on charges which many human-rights campaigners regard as trumped-up. The World Council of Churches says he is the victim of persecution; the Conference of European Churches has called for his release; Amnesty International once called him a prisoner of conscience.

Who is he? On July 2nd, Archbishop Jovan Vraniskovski of Ohrid (to use the title he uses, and most of the Christian world recognises) was given a three-year jail term for “embezzlement”; given that his current stay in jail (the latest in a series) has already lasted 18 months, he seems set to remained incarcerated until the end of next year. To explain his bizarre story, it helps to go back to the 1960s, when relations between communist Yugoslavia’s republics were volatile and mostly conducted by party apparatchiks behind closed doors. Those apparatchiks controlled virtually everything that happened in the country, including the limited religious life which the communist system tolerated. As a way of cutting Serbia down to size, the party bosses agreed in 1967 that it would be a good idea if the republic of Macedonia had its own Orthodox church, instead of being part of the Serbian one. (more…)

The Conference of European Churches urges Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski for immediate release of Archbishop Jovan!

Filed under: General — July 13, 2013 @ 5:28 pm

The Assembly of CEC has learned with great concern about the arrest and detention of Archbishop Jovan in R. Macedonia. It is believed that his detention is a result of him exercising his human right of religious freedom. Reaffirming that freedom of religion and belief is a fundamental right guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human rights and the European Convention on Human Rights to which R. Macedonia is a party.

The CEC Assembly affirms the call by the World Council of Churches on the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief to carefully investigate this case.

The CEC Assembly calls on the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe and the EU Special Representative on Human Rights to urgently look into this case. In particular, the CEC Assembly requests that the institutions see whether the detention conditions are in line with standards as set out by the Council of Europe.

We urge the government of R. Macedonia and H.E. Nikola Gruevski, Prime Minister of R. Macedonia, to assure a fair trial and immediately release of Archbishop Jovan, pending his trial, in accordance with R. Macedonia’s national criminal law provisions.

We request the member churches of CEC to join in prayer and solidarity with Archbishop Jovan by sending letters of protest to the responsible authorities.


FYRMacedonia Sentences Orthodox Archbishop To 3 Years Jail

Filed under: General — July 11, 2013 @ 11:37 am

SKOPJE/BELGRADE/BUDAPEST (BosNewsLife)– A FYR Macedonian court sentenced the archbishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) in Macedonia to three years in prison on what his denomination and activists called Wednesday, July 3, “false charges” of money laundering, while fourteen co-defendants received suspended jail terms.

Additionally Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid, also known as Zoran Vraniskovski, must handover SOC properties, including church buildings, to the state for allegedly laundering some 250,000 euro ($325,000), his church said. Bishop Marko of Bregalnica, whose civilian name is Goran Kimev, Bishop David Ninov of Stobi as well as fourteen “priest-monks, abbesses, nuns and other faithful people of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric” each received two years suspended sentences for financial wrongdoing, the SOC added.

Among those sentenced are also Archbishop Jovan’s mother and sister, trial observers said. “The court told them that if they repeat the same deed in the next five years they will be facing two years of imprisonment each,” the SOC complained in a statement to BosNewsLife.

Tuesday’s ruling by Judge Ivica Stefanovski of the First Municipal Court of Skopje, FYR Macedonia, is “the seventh imprisonment sentence for Archbishop Jovan, who is a political prisoner in Macedonia already for a long period of time,” the SOC said.

The independent Centar 9, or Center 9 in English, a Belgrade-based Balkan rights group, said the 47-year-old church leader suffered years of persecution. “Once he was in prison because he has baptized a child and another time time because of having a prayer service in a private home,” explained the group’s General Secretary Drasko Djenovic in an interview.


“All persecution was in the last 10 years - since 2003,” he told BosNewsLife.

The Council of Bishops of the Serbian Church calls to free Archbishop Jovan VI of Ohrid

Filed under: General — May 29, 2013 @ 8:17 am

Belgrad, May 22, 2013

On the first day of its work, the council of Bishops of the Serbian Church has addressed all democratic institutions of Serbia and the whole world, calling upon them to help release Archbishop Jovan (Vraniskovski) of Ohrid, who is still detained in the Macedonian prison in Skopje.

Bishop Irenej of Backa who had spoken with the media representatives on behalf of the council, has expressed his hope that other Churches and religious organizations would give prayer and moral support to the imprisoned hierarch—the head of the canonical autonomous Archdiocese of Ohrid.

According to Bishop Irenej, the imprisoned hierarch is kept “in inhuman conditions”, lacks necessary medical aid and his health has greatly deteriorated.