Greek Orthodox Church Synod Rejects Deal to Cut Church and State Ties

Archbishop Ieronymos and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. File photo

The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece on Tuesday rejected the deal which had been worked out between Archbishop Ieronymos and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in November of 2018.

The agreement between the two men had included the end of Greek Orthodox clerics being included on the Greek state payroll as civil servants.

However, the November deal had provisions stating that the Greek state would instead be obliged to provide a stipend of approximately €200 million per year to the Church, from which funds the clergy would be paid.

Archbishop Ieronymos admitted on Tuesday that the Holy Synod would not accept the deal, and accused the bishops who had opposed it without bringing any alternative solution to the table.

In an effort to save some elements of the deal, Ieronymos proposed that the dialogue between the Church and the state continue, excluding the issue of the clerics’ payroll, the question which had sparked the most widespread reaction.

However, no decision has yet been made on this proposal.

Commenting on the events, Costas Gavroglou, Greece’s Minister of Education and Religious Affairs, said that the government wishes to continue its dialogue with the Church. Gavroglu added that the country’s Council of State has already ruled that the clerics must not be treated as civil servants.