ATHENS – With atheist Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras saying it’s a done deal, the Holy Synod on Dec. 11 was set to review an agreement he reached with Archbishop Ieronymos for “religious neutrality,” separation of Church and State.
The deal would see 9,000 clerics taken off state payrolls and onto Church ledgers but with their salaries guaranteed by the government, which Tsipras said would allow him to hire 10,000 public workers in what critics said was a transparent bid to buy votes as he plummets in polls after reneging on anti-austerity promises.
“I will speak last and when I do you will see that all this noise is nothing but a bubble,” Ieronymos said ahead of the meeting, rejecting criticism of the agreement that would also see the state and church sharing use of church properties.
Many of the 82 Bishop of the Holy Synod are unhappy they were cut out and not informed and as
Education Minister Costas Gavroglou saying he wanted to continue discussing the deal with the Holy Synod, which has rejected the proposal so far while also wanting further dialogue.
Speaking to Antenna TV, earlier 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.
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.