Translation:Another letter from P.R. Slaveikov - February 1874
I sent you a letter via a trustworthy man two days ago, in which I briefly described to you the situation in Salonika and Macedonia in connection with the unreasonable movement for the restoration of the Archbishopric of Ohrid in union with the Roman Catholic Church. After the meeting with some of the local elders I have understood that there were everywhere wide discussions for a broader plan, namely, to create a Uniate Church in Macedonia.
According to reliable sources, only the cheirotonia of Father Hariton is awaited before action will be taken. Until the blessing of the Pope for the proclamation of the Uniate Archbishopric of Ohrid arrives, the bishops with their eparchies will be constituent apart of the Uniate Church with their seat in Adrianople. Then Father Nathaniel will be appointed Archbishop of Ohrid and the following appointments will be made in the eparchies: Father Panaret for the Pelagonia eparchy, Brother Kozma Prechistenski for the Debar eparchy, Father Nil Izvorov for the Salonika eparchy and Father Dorotej for the Skopje eparchy. The other eparchies, for which there are no candidates proposed, will temporarily be governed by the neighboring archpriests. Father Nil will be Bishop of Salonika, Kukush and Voden. Father Hariton, after his ordination, will also become bishop of the Serez and Melnik eparchies. Father Dionisij, as an archimandrite, will temporarily govern the Strumica eparchy.
I have personal impression, Your Grace, that nobody here is asking for a real union with the Roman Catholic Church. It is simply a means of restoration of the Archbishopric of Ohrid. Catholic circles also feel this and therefore have no great confidence in the people with whom they are negotiating. So I do not think it is too late to actin order to overcome the discontent, which later could be subdued. The Uniate movement is more dangerous in the places where formerly there was a Union because of similar reasons. Kukush comes in the first place, followed by Dojran with sympathy from Strumica, Maleshevo and Voden. The Salonika, Serez, Melnik and Drama villages lag behind them. There is not any powerful stirring of the Uniate propaganda indeed, but where there is smoke there must be fire. The appointment of Bishop Nil is expected for the fire to blaze forth. The Poljanin eparchy will immediately turn into a Union and the Strumica and Voden eparchies will join in, as well as a huge number of villages in Salonika, Drama, Serres and other eparchies. The other Macedonian eparchies will certainly be shattered, too, first the Veles eparchy and then the Skopje one. The Veles eparchy is also dissatisfied with its bishop, Damaskin, while at the same time the citizens of Veles, aroused by a craving for power, believe that they should govern Macedonia in religious matters.
The causes of such a situation in the whole of Macedonia are very obvious. The Macedonian eparchies and towns I have already mentioned are extremely embittered by the serious position of the Church and the people in which they find themselves. The spreading of the idea of restoration of the Archbishopric of Ohrid upon an Uniate basis is also helped by the French and Austrian consuls, who promise full protection before the Turkish authorities and persecution of the Constantinople Patriarchate. The Greeks themselves indirectly help the spreading of the Union in Macedonia, expecting the Exarchate to become weak because of the Union and thus finding allies in the liquidation of the Catholic propaganda in Macedonia. I have concluded this from the talks I had with the Greek consul in Salonika. He was not in the least worried at the danger of the spread of the Union in Macedonia. On the contrary, Greece is seeking support for its economic and national activity in Macedonia. According to the opinion of the Greek consul, the part of the people who will not accept the Union, disillusioned with the Exarchate, will remain under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate.
In the talks I had it was not by chance that the agents and adherents of the Union mentioned that the "Macedonian question" could only be settled through the Union. In order to make full use of the discontent and bitterness of the people against the Exarchate, they strengthen their accusation against the Exarchate. They speak about the Macedonian question upon a religious basis, but at the same time stir up the old separatist trends among the Macedonians - to create a new ethnic region through the Union - in the spirit of Midhat-Pasha's schemes. As the Roman Catholic agents worked out a cultural and national program for the Union in 1860 for the liberation of the Bulgarian people from the Patriarchate, they now also appear with a specific program for the spiritual and national liberation of the Macedonian eparchies through the Union. The Macedonian activists already widely use the expression the Macedonian movement in their language of communication, by which one should understand independent national and church liberation. I must emphasize strongly, Your Excellency, that this is a factor of an important political character - separatism is being spread starting from a religious basis towards a broader national one.
After the talks I had with Father Petar Dimov I felt that he has slowly retired from being drawn into the Union. Today he has officially renounced the Union and sent a letter to You expressing his loyalty to the Exarchate. I also talked to Father Averkij. He told me that he would also withdraw from the movement if appointments for the Exarchate bishops were issued by the autumn. My attitude towards these two Church dignitaries was moderate and friendly, because any repressive measures could stir up spirits.
Your spiritual child
- ^ Cočo Biljarski – Ilija Paskov, "Pisma na Petko Račev Slaveikov po unijata v Makedonija prez 1874 g.“, Vekove, Hoe III, 1, Sofija, 1989, 68.