The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece issued strongly-worded public statements outright rejecting the use of the word “Macedonia” or any form of the word– sending a strong message to the Leftist government of Alexis Tsipras which is in the midst of negotiations with Skopje.
In its statement, the Church’s Holy Synod unanimously rejected any potential compromise that may be in the works to allow the northern republic to use a form or composite of the word Macedonia in its name.
Although the government has been quiet about its negotiations, various reports have leaked claiming that a compromise was in the works that would allow a composite like “Northern Macedonia” or even “New Macedonia” to be used.
Again, none of these names have been confirmed but numerous hints have come from both sides about a compromise name that is being negotiated between representatives of the Greek government and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia that would bring an end to the near-thirty year stalemate between the two nations.
The Church was immediately criticized by unnamed government sources inside the foreign ministry, according to reports in Kathimerini, CNN Greece and other media, stating that it should stick to ecclesiastical issues and leave the foreign policy issues to the government.
Greece’s Archbishop Ieronymos was quick to respond to such criticism that this issue was very much a matter of interest to the church, as the church feels the concerns of its faithful.
But the church’s concerns also have a direct ecclesiastical connection to a potential resolution with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
The Holy Synod also stated that it has been following with great concern, decisions by the Bulgarian Church to open discussions with other Orthodox Churches in the region about the status of the so-called ‘Macedonian Orthodox Church,” a body that is self-recognized and hasn’t been recognized by other Orthodox Church bodies.
The Church in FYROM used to be an archdiocese of the Serbian Church but split away in 1967 and unilaterally announced its autocephaly (or independence) from the Serbian Church.
Since then, the Church has remained unrecognized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and all the other canonical Orthodox churches, in support of Serbian opposition.
The Church of Greece, which considers the ‘Church of Macedonia” to be schismatic, said developments by Bulgaria to interfere in the matter could “give rise to troublesome developments” in a statement issued by its press office.
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