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Politics

Mitsotakis, Archbishop Ieronymos Ιssue Joint Message on Vaccination Effort

December 13, 2021

ATHENS – Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece with Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece confirmed the importance of consistently promoting the vaccination program, especially in areas with low vaccination coverage, at a meeting held on Monday.

According to a joint press statement, both sides urged the importance of the strict observation of prevention and protection measures against Covid 19. The PM was accompanied by Education Minister Niki Kerameus.

Mitsotakis Meets Holy Synod, More Priests Hirings Mulled

After the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA eventually moved toward more separation of Church and State, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is making it closer and will be the first to attend a meeting of the Holy Synod and discussing hiring more priests.

The New Democracy leader ousted the Leftists in July 7, 2019 snap elections as SYRIZA was moving, 4 ½ years after being elected, to take priests off the state’s payroll and put more distance between the government and Church.

On the agenda at the Dec. 13 meeting, said Kathimerini, is the idea of adding 4,000 more priests to the current roster of some 6,000 and revising the Church’s charter.

Leader of the Church were said to welcome Mitsotakis’ oming as a sign that relations will be tightened although the Prime Minister has been reluctant to get tougher on some clerics resisting COVID-19 measures and hasn’t required them to be vaccinated nor enforce health restrictions in Church.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis attends the meeting of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece on Monday. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Dimitris Papamitsos)

The payroll for priests and renewal of a charter will be on a list of priorities that will be handed to Mitsotakis by Archbishop Ieronymos, drafted by the Church-State Relations Committee, a body effectively disbanded by SYRIZA.

It was revived by New Democracy which has more traditional ties with the Church, an influential bloc that political parties must deal with and which Prime Ministers have been delicate in dealing with.

Shortly after winning elections in 2019, Mitsotakis’ Conservative government ended SYRIZA plans to take priests off state payrolls, clerics paid almost 30,000 euros ($33,791) annually, not including other gratituties for services.

That costs the government about 200 million euros ($225.27 million) annually out of the state budget, ensuring there is no separation between the two powerful institutions, giving the Church huge sway.

SYRIZA, whose party head is former premier Alexis Tsipras, an atheist, had made a deal with the Church to take the priests off state payrolls and instead offer an annual subsidy to a special church fund, Reuters said in 2019.

But members of the clergy complained that they did not want to lose their civil servant status and Mitsotakis said then that his government had no plans to amend constitutional articles concerning the status of the Orthodox Church.

The Greek Orthodox Church has played a leading role in the life of the country for many centuries and is considered its official religion under the constitution. For many Greeks, their national identity is intricately bound up with their religion, the news agency noted.

 

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