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Metropolitan Daniel Speaks with TNH on Greece’s Church and State Crisis

November 30, 2018

ATHENS – His Eminence Metropolitan Daniel of Kaisariani, Vyronos and Ymittos spoke with The National Herald about the issue of the secret meetings of Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, which ended up in a surprise joint announcement on November 6 about church and state relations, including the sensitive issue of the salaries of the clergy. He revealed that “Archbishop Ieronymos ignored the Synod of the Hierarchy, and that “the archbishop didn’t convince the Holy Synod with his arguments.” He added: “I don’t want to comment on the political part of the issue and the presentation of the prime minister.”

He said that “the Holy Synod of the Hierarchy listened to His Beatitude the Archbishop expressing his thoughts and plan and repeating the known decision of the hierarch that ‘we don’t want any change in the way the clergy are salaried by the state.’”

He said “it was said in the Hierarchy’s meeting to the archbishop’s face that he acted in absentia of the Hierarchy.”

Ecclesiologically, he explained that “the archbishop is responsible to explain why he ignored and bypassed the Synod and acted the way he acted. I am not responsible to answer on his behalf because they are his actions. The archbishop did not act Synodically, but on his own.

“The administration of our Church in Greece is synodic. Collectively, the 80 hierarchs plus the archbishop decide on all issues. The archbishop had the opportunity, as it is done for other issues, to tell the hierarch that ‘there is this issue: do I have your authorization to negotiate, and when I conclude with some proposals to bring them to you?’ The Hierarchy wouldn’t have refused it, as it has not in the past, but that is the way he should have proceeded. The constitutional rules state very clearly what the duties and responsibilities of the archbishop are, and also the small Synod of the 12 members. Those two are assignees of the Hierarch comprised by 80 hierarchs.

“Metropolitan Nicholas of Mesogea told the archbishop that this issue is not an issue of the small Synod or the archbishop, but it is an issue that concerns the entire Hierarchy. Also, Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Patra, who is a member of the small Synod, told the archbishop that ‘we cannot decide on this issue; it has to go to the Synod of the entire Hierarchy.’”

Metropolitan Daniel said that “as the government spokesman said, we are going to engage in dialogue with the Church. Costas Gavroglou, Minister of Education, was charged by the prime minister to meet with the archbishop, the ecumenical patriarch, the archbishop of Crete, and the hierarchs of the Dodecanese, and after he completes his round of meetings and arrives to some conclusions, we will see how to proceed.”

He declined to say why he left early prior to the dismissal of the Synod of the Hierarchy. “I didn’t depart early, please allow me not to say details, it was a personal issue,” he said, and added that “the meeting was almost completed and the news announcement was in the drafting process, and there was a personal issue for which I departed.”

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