Patriarch Will be Briefed on Tsipras’ Religious Neutrality Deal

Education Minister Costas Gavroglou. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Yorgos Kontarinis, FILE)

Greece’s Education and Religious Affairs Minister Costas Gavroglou is scheduled to go to Constantinople for a second time to explain to Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios an agreement for separation of Church and State the government agreed with Archbishop Ieronymos.

Atheist Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader said it would go ahead despite the Holy Synod opposing the scheme that would move 9,000 clerics off state payrolls to the Church, but with their salaries still paid by the government.

Gavroglou was to brief the Patriarch on the terms as well and discuss the anticipated replacement of Archbishop Demetrios of America, said Kathimerini, which it was told by sources it didn’t identify that Gavroglou would also talk to the Bishops of the Holy Synod although Tsipras already said he will disregard their objections.

Speaking to Antenna TV, Bishop Daniel of Kaisariani said Ieronymos committed “breaches that cannot be erased.” “In the life of the church nothing is forgotten,” he said.

But, Bishop Maximos of Ioannina told state-run ERT that Ieronymos was being unfairly treated and that his critics owe him an apology.

Tsipras said it’s up to the government – him – on how the country’s priests are paid, now currently on state rolls, as he wants the Church of Greece to pay them – with state subsidies.

That came after the Church’s hierarchy said it would oppose a tentative deal that Tsipras made with its head, Archbishop Ieronymos, for the state to pay them through the Church in return for not opposing his plan “religious neutrality,” separation of Church and State.

Tsipras’ office said “the payment status of Church officials is, in any case, the responsibility and decision of the state,” adding the government will soon prepare draft legislation on the main points of the deal.

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