A church statement following a highly-anticipated extraordinary meeting of senior clergy headed by Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Ieronymos II, read:
“The Church of Greece, a pioneer in the struggles of the Nation, believes that every expression in defense of the laws of Macedonia is commendable, as long as it is genuine, selfless and pious, and always in the spirit of a legitimate and democratic manifestation.
“Therefore, in the context of the freedom of expression of His Clergy and Peoples, He respects their right to act in a conscious, prudent and accountable manner.”
On Thursday, an influential group of Greek Orthodox clergy backed a forthcoming Athens rally against the use of ‘Macedonia’ by FYROM.
There had also been public differences of opinion between senior church figures on backing street demonstrations over the emotive issue.
Friday’s five-hour meeting also reiterated the church’s opposition to the use of the term ‘Macedonia’ by Skopje, saying any composite name which included it would “have an impact on the schismatic self-proclaimed church of ‘Macedonia'”.
It also hit out at the “irredentist moods of the Skopje State [FYROM]” adding the Permanent Holy synod “does not participate in political processes and approaches, nor does it accept to play any political games against Her”.
Feb. 17 will see a series of church services in the memory of Pavlos Melas and the Greek struggle for historic Macedonia between 1893 and 1908.