Mitsotakis steps into church war

As senior Greek churchmen formulated a list of proposals yesterday ahead of today’s opening session of the council of the Church of Greece’s bishops, who will discuss the ongoing turf war with the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate, the feud took a new political twist. Honorary New Democracy Chairman Constantine Mitsotakis stepped in yesterday on the side of the Church of Greece – both bodies claim jurisdiction over 36 northern Greek sees liberated from the Turks after 1912 – and called on the government and Greece’s political parties to follow suit. «The interests of Orthodoxy and our country are paramount,» he said, warning that the dispute is of a political and «national» nature. This prompted a swift dismissal from government spokesman Christos Protopappas, who accused the former PM of «pouring oil on the fire.» The government – as well as ND – has adopted a neutral stance, insisting that the churches must solve the dispute on their own. And a statement from the Patriarchate called Mitsotakis’s proposal «an insult.»