Differences continue to emerge within the Greek Orthodox Church over approaches to the ‘Macedonia’ issue, with Sunday’s major rally in Thessaloniki exacerbating a rift among senior clergy.
There also appears to be uncertainty over whether church authorities in Athens should endorse a large rally expected in the Greek capital on Feb. 4 to protest the use of the term ‘Macedonia’ in any future name for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
Ieronymos II, the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, in comments broadcast on Greek channel ERT and posted by the Proto Thema news site, said although the church overall remained opposed to the use of ‘Macedonia’ “prudence, unity and sobriety” should prevail.
He also pointed out that only nine senior bishops took part in Sunday’s demonstration in Thessaloniki out of 82 senior clergy.
However, his comments were later taken up by the outspoken Metropolitan of Thessaloniki, Anthimos, who called for the church, through the Holy Synod, to reexamine its position on the popular rallies.
In a radio interview, the northern bishop did not confirm if he would take part in the Athenian protest, saying: “It is a matter for the Archdiocese of Athens what will happen at the rally. I cannot go to a foreign metropolis.”
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is due to meet his FYROM counterpart this week on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
A list of UN-backed proposals for a new FYROM name were released last week, causing more upset in Greece as each formulation included the word ‘Macedonia’.
Greece views use of ‘Macedonia’ by FYROM as a claim on Greek territory, identity and history.