New Greek Prime Minister overturns previous government’s plans to distance Church and state

Athens, July 18, 2019

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Kyriakos Mitsotakis led Greece’s New Democracy Party to a landslide victory on July 7 and was sworn in as the struggling nation’s new Prime Minister the next day by His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece.

On Tuesday, Mitsotakis assured His Beatitude, the primate of the Greek Orthodox Church, that his government would not advance the plan to remove priests from the category of civil servants, thus effectively overturning the decision of the previous leftist administration under former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, reports Russian Athens.

Tsipras’ administration also pushed through plans on the joint development of disputed real estate assets and the establishment of a “religion neutral” state. Article 3 of the constitution currently states that “The prevailing religion in Greece is that of the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ,” and the preamble states that the constitution is “In the name of the Holy and Consubstantial and Indivisible Trinity.”

The new PM stressed that articles 3 and 13 of the constitution, which define the relationship between Church and state, will not be changed.

“I look forward to a very substantial cooperation with you. There are many issues that we need to address, but always in good faith and by respecting the constitutional requirements of Articles 3 and 13 of the Constitution, for which, as I have already informed you, there will be no changes in the constitutional revision,” Mitsotakis told Abp. Ieronymos in front of cameras at Maximos Mansion, reports Greek Reporter.

In November of last year, Tsipras and Abp. Ieronymos concluded a preliminary agreement on the exclusion of about 10,000 clerics from the state wage fund, which met fierce resistance from the Holy Synod.

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