Archbishop seeks details of church, state separation


Commenting on the government’s plan to revise the Constitution, Archbishop Ieronymos urged Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras Monday to clarify what his proposal to establish the “religious neutrality” of the state actually means in terms of its relationship to the Church.

SYRIZA last week finalized its proposals for changes to 23 articles of the Constitution, including the “recognition of the religious neutrality of the state,” as well as granting citizens the right to elect a Greek president when Parliament is unable to appoint one.

“We will have to clarify first what we mean by religious neutrality. I believe the opportunity will arise and I will cooperate,” Ieronymos said Monday after a meeting of the Church’s Holy Synod.

“I don’t know what the prime minister means; he will tell us.”

The archbishop of Greece added that he prefers the German model, where the state is “religion-neutral” and “helps the Church.”

“I would like to live in Germany and be religion-neutral,” he said.

New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis is set to present his party’s proposals for the constitutional revision during a meeting of the party’s parliamentary group Tuesday.

The main opposition has criticized the timing of the review, accusing the government of using it to “hide its political decay and the decline to which it has led the country.”

The parliamentary debate on the revision of the Constitution will start on November 14, according to a decision by the House’s conference of presidents Monday.

Parliament will also decide on the deadline that will be given to the Constitutional Revision Committee – the body responsible for examining the government’s proposed amendments – to deliver its report.