ATHENS – The head of the Church of Greece, Archbishop Ieronymos, said only the Greek Orthodox Religion should be taught in schools, fighting a plan by the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA party to include other religions.
The Archbishop spoke out against plans by the Education Ministry to religious courses taught in schools, saying they were unacceptable and a danger to society, the newspaper Kathimerini said.
Education Minister Nikos Filis said religion classes must change and be more like religious studies, rather than be taught on the basis of catechism.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, leader of the leftist party, is said to be atheist and one of his pledges was to separate Church and State although he hasn’t moved to do so.
The Archbishop appealed to Tsipras to, “Put an end to this effort, and postpone any such initiative,” and called for a “serious” discussion between the Church and the state.
“Religion courses in school are indeed in a crisis and there is a need for all us, Church and state, to cooperate to make the relevant decisions (but) not within a time frame of five or 10 days, the Church leader said.
Filis said the changes were the result of a pilot program and a months-long dialogue between teachers, theologians and church representatives and that he, not the Archbishop, will set the schools curricula, including religion.
Filis, a college dropout who has provoked critics with his views, said he didn’t understand what he called “incomprehensible acrimony and fearmongering” from the Church although he said he’s willing to talk with the Archbishop.