The leader of the Church of Greece, Archbishop Ieronymos, said that the Church cannot remain indifferent to the name dispute of Macedonia. The Church of Greece vehemently rejects the term “Macedonia” as part of a component of the name of Former Yugoslavic Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Ieronymo0us intervention comes at times when unofficial negations between Athens and Skopje are under way.
“It is a national issue that cannot leave the Church of Greece indifferent,” Ieronymos told the Board of the Holy Synod on Tuesday. The Holy Synod is to deal with the so-called “Skopje issue” today, Wednesday.
According to media reports, the Holy Synod will decide based on similar decisions of the hierarchy of the Church of Greece in the past with regards to the “Macedonian Archbishopric of Ohrid“
In particular, the board of the Holy Synod will support the non-use of the term “Macedonia” by focusing both on ethnological and ecclesiastical issues of the identity of this Archdiocese and, by extension, of the neighboring state.
It is recalled that older decisions taken by the hierarchy of the Church of Greece had stated that FYROM is “appropriating and claiming what it does not own, that is, the Greek name of Macedonia, and thus injuring the Greek dignity and the historic reality.”
In the current board, four Bishops from Northern Greece are participating, expressing the most hardcore opposition in the name dispute. The four are expected to take up the burden of “representing” the image of the Church of Greece in favor of the positions supported by the inhabitants of Macedonia.
Hardliner Metropolit Anthimos of Thessaloniki reportedly dreams of a big rally organized by the Church with the aim to prohibit FYROM from using the name in its new name.
“Macedonia means Greece and Greece means Macedonia,” Anthimos said during his speech at the Epiphany ceremony last Saturday, thus intervening in the ocuntry’s foreign policy.
- “We are uncompromising to the word Macedonia,” the Holy Synod decided on Wednesday. “The issue touches us, we follow it with agony and emotion. It is not only national and political, it is also ecclesiastical,” Archbishop Ieroymos said. It seem that he opposes rallies on this issue. “We stand firm to what we have decided as Christians and as Greeks,” Emmanuil, Bishop of Polyani and Kilkisiou added.
The Church of Greece under Archbishop Christodoulos had supported the Macedonia-rallies in 1992.
Meanwhile, the Association of Municipalities in Greece (KEDE) urged the government to not allow the use of name “Macedonia” by FYROM.
“There cannot be retreat from the standing national position which prohibits the use of the name MACEDONIA by the neighboring state,” KEDE said in a statement.
Albanian media claimed on Tuesday that Athens and Skopje had agreed on the name “Republic of Nova Macedonia” Nova Makedonija. The claims have been dismissed by both sides.
In 1992 Prime Minister Constantinos Mitsotakis (New Democracy) favored a composite name such as “Nova Macedonia.” The heightened public irritation over the Macedonia naming issue caused several ND parliament members, led by Antonis Samaras, to withdraw their support from Mitsotakis’s government and form a new political party, Political Spring. The withdrawal brought down the Mitsotakis government. Years later Samaras rejoined ND.