A war broke out between the Greek government and the Church of Greece after the latter expressed its objection for the use of term “Macedonia” in the under negotiation name of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). Government officials compared the stance of the Church with this of far-right Golden Dawn party.
“Has the Church’s leadership decided to align with the neo-Nazi entity of Golden Dawn?” government sources allegedly from the Foreign Ministry and accused the Church of going beyond the bounds of its authority by involving itself in state and serious foreign policy matters.
“Would the Church care to tell us what name for FYROM would be willing to negotiate about?” the sources reportedly also said and complained that the Church did not even bother to be informed about the government’s positions on the issue and how it deals with the matter.
The Church leadership that declares to be so interested on national issues “must be particularly careful and focus on the national interest and not on serving the private interests of the hierarchs and, most probably, on their personal “political interests” using as pretext the concern of their parishes.
Church officials responded immediately describing the statements as “profoundly insulting and offending views,” and called on those responsible for leaks to speak openly.
The Foreign Ministry dismissed claims by conservative New Democracy that the leakage came from the ministry.
Archbishop Ieronymos sent a letter to Prime Minister reminding him that the name “Macedonia” is also of ecclesiastic importance due to the Archbishopric of Ohrid.
Alexis Tsipras responded with another letter to the leader of the Church of Greece saying among other that “National issues require a broader national unity.”
“National unity is grounded in prudence, dialogue, respect for different opinions, and distinct roles. And it is undermined by cries, manifestations of intolerance and extremities that, in the name of the nation, led to national defeats in the past,” Tsipras said in his letter. He reassured Archbishop Ieronymos that the government will take into account the ecclesiastic concerns.