NEWS

Government, main opposition spar over church-state relations in constitutional debate

GIORGOS BOURDARAS

TAGS: Politics

In their first debate over changes to Greece’s Constitution, the government and the main opposition clashed over possible changes in the relations between church and state.

The Parliament’s Constitutional Revision Committee, the body responsible for examining the government's proposed amendments, debated on Thursday Articles 3 (par. 1,2,3) 13 (par. 5), 33 and 59, which concern church-state relations.

As part of the revision which started in 2018, the then government of SYRIZA had proposed making the state “religion neutral,” a position reiterated in Thursday’s debate.

“The state considers all Greeks equals. An atheist Greek is Greek, a Jewish Greek is Greek. And the state should address all of them in a neutral way. For this reason, only religiously neutral political modes of communication with the state should be provided for in all procedures,” said SYRIZA MP George Katrougalos.

Responding to Katrougalos, New Democracy MP Kostas Tzavaras accused SYRIZA of “trying to integrate ideologically-based narratives that contain leftist tropes” in the Constitution and added that Article 3 (which includes reference to the Church dogma and the reference to a “prevalent religion")  will not be abolished because "it violates the character of the Greek state."

He conceded that changes could be made in the type of oath required by politicians in specific ceremonies, adding however that these do not require constitutional changes. 

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