Athens, March 21, 2019
The Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church rejected the proposed plan to remove Greek clerics from the state payroll as civil servants during its session yesterday, reports the Greek Reporter.
A deal had been worked out between the primate of the Greek Church His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and Prime Minister Tsipras in November in which the Greek state would instead pay a stipend of approximately $228 million (200 million euros) per year to the Church to fund the clergy.
“Our goal is to define the framework for the settlement and resolution of the historical ambiguity and to strengthen the autonomy of the Greek Church against the Greek state, recognizing [the Church’s] contribution and historical role in [the state’s] birth and formation,” the statement explains.
The Synod resolve to uphold its November decision, drawing a “red line” on the issue of clergy payments.
Attempting to save at least some elements of the deal, Abp. Ieronymos proposed that the dialogue between the Church and state continue, excluding the controversial issue of the clergy payroll. According to Romfea News, that leaves the issues of the permanent posts of clergy and Church employees, compensation for Church property expropriated in 1939, and the management of Church property for discussion.
No decision has yet been made on this proposal. The archbishop also criticized the opposing bishops for not offering an alternative solution to the problem.
“The hierarchy expressed its total opposition to the attempted constitutional revision and hoped that the next Parliament will not abolish or amend the Articles of the Constitution that refer to the cultural and social idiosyncrasy of [their] nation and the protection of the family which is the cornerstone of society,” reports Romfea.
Greece’s Education and Religious Affairs Ministry issued an angry response to the Synod’s decision on Wednesday evening, saying, “In a democracy, dialogue between the state and Church cannot be held with ‘red lines’ and a barren refusal,” reports the Orthodoxia News Agency.
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