Greek Holy Synod Warns SYRIZA Against Separation of Church and State

The Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church has issued a warning towards the government not to raise the issue of the separation between the church and state.

At a meeting on Wednesday, the leadership of the church said that there should be no redefinition of the historic relationship between Greeks and Orthodoxy.

“The Church […] can never ask for separation from its people. The Church has been, is and will be a mother figure for the people”, a statement said.

It added that if the government has the consent of the people to proceed with separation, “it must adhere to the obligations it has assumed towards the Church”.

This is the latest salvo in a battle between governing SYRIZA, and a religious establishment that still holds huge political sway.

Last week it emerged that Alexis Tsipras was forced to cancel plans to visit Mount Athos as a number of influential orthodox clerics vetoed his visit on the grounds that he is an atheist.

More than 70 per cent of Greeks are of the Orthodox faith, but fewer than 50 per cent are regular churchgoers. The church plays a huge part in Greek life.