Greek Bishops Squabble with Archbishop Over Religious Neutrality


The Holy Synod of the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece, Nov. 16, 2018. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Christos Bonis)

ATHENS – Many of the 82 Bishop of the Holy Synod are unhappy that the leader of the Church of Greece, Archbishop Ieronymos, reached a deal with atheist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to allow separation of Church and State in return for the government guaranteeing their salaries.

Both Tsipras and Ieronymos said they would have the final say, cutting out the Bishops but as Education Minister Costas Gavroglou said he wanted to continue discussing the so-called “religious neutrality” idea with the Synod, which has rejected the proposal so far while also wanting further dialogue.

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.