Nationalism was always strong in the area and the Orthodox clergy lost no time in claiming a right to independence from the Serbian Orthodox Church. After twenty years of dispute, even the diplomatic skills of Patriarch German were insufficient to prevent the Macedonian Orthodox declaring their church autocephalous, which the Yugoslav government welcomed. To this day, neither the Serbian nor any other Orthodox Church has recognised the Macedonian claims, but with the advent of independence for the 'Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia' (the country's official name) the prospect of a quick resolution to this problem is more distant than ever.

The Serbian Orthodox Church embodies the spirit of the nation, but to an exaggerated degree. This did not put it in a strong position, under German's successor Patriarch Pavle, to mediate between warring ethnic factions in the post-communist debacle. The Orthodox churches were deeply scarred by the experience of communism, yet survived with remarkable resilience. The period since the collapse of communism has seen their strong revival everywhere.

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