Greek Synod: Legality of new IDs is a state matter, the Synod will continue to study citizen concerns

Athens, September 7, 2023     

The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece offered a preliminary response to the question of the new digital IDs that are being issued starting this month.

Electronic identification cards have been a volatile issue in Greece for decades. Holy elders such as St. Paisios have warned about them, and the clergy and the people have rallied against them a number of times over the years, including several rallies leading up to the roll-out of the new IDs this month.

Two dozen Orthodox missionary and academic associations signed a text protesting the government’s plan for this month; hierarchs have taken various stances, with some counseling vigilance against the possibility of something nefarious, while others have simply said Christians should wait and see what the Synod will say.

In its statement yesterday, the Synod mainly addressed the question of the legality of the new IDs, saying that is a matter entirely for the state to handle, while nothing that the hierarchs will further address all the ramifications of the new IDs at a later date.

The Synod’s statement reads in full:

The Permanent Holy Synod of the Church of Greece regarding the new police IDs, which the competent Greek state has decided to issue, publishes the following positions, addressed the holy clergy and the devout people:

1. The Holy Synod is aware of the concerns of some Christians; hence, it asks everyone to trust the Church and its responsible pastors, who are vigilant about all matters concerning the lives of the faithful.

2. Any views or reservations reproduced from para-religious notions about the police IDs of citizens are not purely of Orthodox origin.

3. The theories suggesting that the doctrine of the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ is offended by the form and content of the new police ID, as regulated by the current Ministerial Decisions (2018, 2019, 2023), are not theologically strong.

Additionally, phrases about an “electronic dossier” imposed by the “New World Order” and “globalization” have non-religious origins, as they don’t aim to protect the individual freedoms of citizens but insinuate that the Greek Republic, its services, and its respective elected government are “instruments of the Antichrist.”

4. In 2019, the Council of State evaluated the legality of the Ministerial Decision of 2018 for the new police ID (decisions 2388/2019, 2389/2019). On the one hand, it rejected legal disagreements about the protection of personality, religious conscience, and personal data of the citizen; on the other hand, it partially annulled the Ministerial Decision of 2018 regarding a provision, which allowed direct use of the ID by citizens as a card for digital governance services since this function was not legislatively anticipated.

Since then, the state complied and issued two corrective Ministerial Decisions (2019, 2023).

In any case, the judgment regarding the legality of the police ID falls under the jurisdiction of the country’s judicial power, which has already decided and pertains to an administrative matter of state-citizen relations.

5. Nevertheless, the issue is being studied in all its ramifications and will be referred to a future extraordinary session of the Sacred Hierarchy.

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