State will keep paying priests’ salaries, Greek gov’t says

There are no plans for the state to stop paying priests’ salaries, the government said on Thursday, adding that the Church of Greece also pays its fair share of taxes.

“There is no such issue,” said Alternate Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas on Thursday when questioned about whether taxpayers would continue to cover some 10,000 clerics’ wages. Mardas made the comment after meeting Archbishop Ieronymos, the head of Church of Greece.

“The paying of clerics’ wages is the reciprocal duty of the state as the Church has handed over its property to the state as part of this arrangement,” said Ieronymos, who added that the Church “is taxed properly and maybe even more than some other bodies.”

The general secretary for religious affairs, Giorgos Kalantzis, issued a statement backing up the senior cleric on both issues. He said the priests’ salaries have been reduced during the crisis by the same amount as other public sector workers and that the Church pays taxes on revenues and property like other organizations. He added that only places of worship and sites used for charitable work, such as retirement homes and soup kitchens, are exempt from property tax.

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