NEWS

Church against cohabitation

In the most emphatic fashion, the Church of Greece's Holy Synod yesterday declared its opposition to the government's bid to give unmarried couples greater rights by stating that any form of relationship other than a couple married in an Orthodox Church is tantamount to «prostitution.» The Synod's reaction signals an about-turn for Archbishop Ieronymos, who last week appeared to accept that changing the bill was beyond the Church's sphere of influence. However, this was completely overturned yesterday when the Synod issued a statement saying that it did not approve of the government trying to make its proposals part of the country's legal framework. The new law is set to allow unmarried couples to make their relationship official and legally binding by signing a simple notarial contract. This would give each partner the same rights as if the couple were married. The Synod said that the draft law constituted a «catastrophic bomb» being placed under the foundations of Greek society. «The Church accepts and blesses the established wedding, according to Orthodox traditions, and considers any other type of similar relationship to be prostitution,» the Synod said in a statement. Sources said that Ieronymos had wanted the Synod to adopt a more moderate approach in line with his comments last week but most of the other 12 members of the Synod seemed to favor a more outspoken stance. «That was the opinion of one person, this is the opinion of 13,» said Bishop Anthimos of Thessaloniki, a member of the Synod, explaining the difference between Ieronymos's position last week and this week.

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