Following recent protests in Athens and Thessaloniki surrounding the ‘Macedonia’ name dispute, Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece has come out and defended the Greek Orthodox Church’s role in reaching a resolution on the matter.

“The Church … cannot stay silent and passive, particularly when our country’s national interests are threatened or are at stake,” Archbishop Ieronymos told the Holy Synod.

Despite Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ request for the Church to abstain from getting involved, the institution has taken an active role in backing the campaign against the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) using a variant of the name ‘Macedonia’, given that Macedonia is a region in Greece.

The Archbishop went on to refer to Greece’s past, when the Church and its leaders played a role in matters of national significance.

“The Church was never indifferent to national or social issues at any historical period, but it directly or indirectly helped in understanding and ultimately solving them,” he said.