Greek Archbishop Accepts Church-State Separation for Clergy Wage Guarantee

FILE - Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, Nov. 6, 2018. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Christos Bonis)

ATHENS – Archbishop Ieronymos, head of the Church of Greece, has agreed not to oppose Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras’ plan to separate Church and State in return for the government continuing to guarantee the salaries of the country’s 9,000 clergymen.

The Church will not go against the atheist Tsipras’ scheme of “religious neutrality,” which the Premier promised he would do when taking power in 2015 but waited more than three years, with elections required to be held by October, 2019.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Archbishop Ieronymos agreed on Tuesday that the government will continue to guarantee the wages of the country’s some 9,000 clergymen and, in exchange, the Church of Greece will not oppose proposals to make the state “religion neutral.”

In a joint televised address, Tsipras referred to an “historic agreement” with the Greek Orthodox Church as part of a constitutional revision aimed, among others, at changing relations between church and state.

Tsipras said that clerics will no longer be considered civil servants paid by the government bute will be paid by the church – guaranteed by the government with an annual subsidy of 189 million euros ($216.09) with no explanation why technically the state still isn’t paying the priests.

According to a joint communique issued after Tsipras’s statements, the two sides will set up a fund – within the framework of law voted through by the former New Democracy government of then-Premier Antonis Samaras – to manage and develop property claimed by both the Church and the state since 1952, along with any other assets the Church voluntarily transfers to this fund. The revenues and obligations from the property development will be equally divided among the two sides, said Kathimerini in a report on the quid pro quo deal.
“What we and this agreement are showing is our intention to move a step forward, with mutual respect for one another,” the Archbishop said.

The agreement is expected to be a benchmark for further talks between the government and church which Ieronymos will present to the Holy Synod, which will meet with Tsipras’ Cabinet later to discuss how to proceed.

4 Comments

  1. Great a Communist Archbishop, next he will tell us he’s an atheist..as long his people get their cut all is good…God is dead in Greece…the people, the state, the clergy all corrupt communist atheists…watch there will be a big earthquake to show whos really in charge.

  2. In a country with more than 90% of the population that calls itself Orthodox it’s strange that a Communist, an atheist, a former anarchist and a LGBT supporter is at the head. Communism – cancer on the body of Greece. Where is the new Ioannis Metaxas or Spyros Skouras who will fight against communism.

  3. Tsipras is very carefully and shrewdly following the Machiavellian maxim expounded in the infamous chapter 18 of Prince. That a ruler must take particular care to appear to be (yet not necessarily actually be) merciful, faithful, humane, upright and religious. Machiavelli then says in the very next sentence that of the five qualities named above none is more important than the last named one, appearing to be religious. His reason was that people judge mainly by appearances.

    Dealing forcefully and directly with the orthodox church was within the power and ability of Tsipras but for the reasons above he chose not to. If anything he has gone out of his way to be conciliatory to the church. Given the crisis, it’s a shame if not a disgrace. Like many neo Marxists he doesn’t have the balls to initiate a direct confrontation. On the other hand the masses would be vehemently opposed. He didn’t have to go out of his way to kiss their behind but then he didn’t really have much of a choice or political room to maneuver. That’s not an opinion but political reality. It’s a neo Marxist trick to appease the masses by conceding on culture agenda. The church is going along because they will still receive the money, and because they don’t make deals unless there is some back end gain. 200 million euros per year would do a lot for the Greek people, even accounting for political mismanagement.

    Unfortunately there is virtually no chance of replacement for a Metaxas. The continuing tide of left wing populism and the economic power of neoliberalism will not permit it. There is too much opposition to economic protectionism and economic fascism, far more than opposition to conservatism. The EU, IMF and World Bank did not exist in the lifetime of Metaxas. The Greece of Metaxas did not boast the industrial capacity of Germany.

    I am an outspoken anti communist because I have had family who in the past were killed by communists. Unfortunately I also had other relatives who very privately espoused neo Marxist sympathies (or did in the past).

    But I have to say the one thing Tsipras exemplifies (and I have commented on this in the past) is that a person does not have to be orthodox in order to be Greek. Of course Tsipras is an atheist on political not religious convictions, but that does not stop him or anyone else from being Greek. There is still too much of a religious stigma in today’s Greece if you openly declare yourself as anything other than orthodox. And people forget that orthodoxy is not the traditional religion of Greece, but that is another matter altogether.

  4. Honestly I read stuff here that makes me weep. Voting in Tsipras shows the maturity of Greeks, including me that we can vote in or out of office an atheist because that is his personal business. Not mine and please do you so love a succession of hypocritical oath takers kissing Cross and Gospels without meaning. Keep up the pretence and reduce the Church to the status of roman empire emperor worship for officials.
    Soviet Russia shows us that state dogma be it atheism or God, quickly becomes dead as with shia islam in Iran.
    I pray for day when church and state in Greece can be clearly separates and the Church free as in Bulgaria where i live. The Constantinian church – state Marriage with constant abuse of the Church and spiritual depravity, is nearing it’s end.
    I suggest some people get real.,enter rhe real world and work out if they worship Christ or a nationalistic idol.

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