Education minister to brief patriarch on church-state deal


Education Minister Costas Gavroglou was dispatched to Istanbul on Saturday to brief Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios on a tentative agreement reached last week between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and  Archbishop Ieronymos.

His trip comes after Vartholomaios, the spiritual leader of the world's Greek Orthodox Christians, held a meeting with Greece's general consul in Turkey on Friday to express his displeasure at not being briefed on the details of the agreement, which has sparked reactions from the clergy in the Church of Greece, but also the political opposition.

Ieronymos on Friday said that he would be convening an extraordinary meeting of the Holy Synod next week to discuss the agreement and clerics' objections.

These are mostly centered on the announcement that the salaries of the country's some 9,000-10,000 clergymen would be taken of the public payroll and subsidized by the state to an equal amount, in exchange for the Church agreeing to make the state “religion neutral” as part of an upcoming constitutional review.

The preliminary agreement also foresees the setting up of a fund to manage and develop property claimed by both the Church of Greece and the state.