Bishops push back against church-state deal

Bishops push back against church-state deal

The Church of Greece's Hierarchy said on Friday it had voted to retain the status of civil servants for clergy, essentially rejecting a key element of the tentative deal with the government on changing church-state relations.

The meeting of the Hierarchy aimed at discussing the agreement reached between Archbishop Ieronymos and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras earlier this month, whose main points center on moving clerics off the state's payroll, jointly developing disputed real estate assets and establishing a “religion neutral” state.

In a press release issued after the meeting on Friday, the Hierarchy said it will continue its dialog with the government and assign to the Standing Holy Synod the establishment of a committee consisting of Hierarchs, lawyers, experts and representatives of the clergy to study the issues.

It also said however it will “insist on the existing payment status” for clerics and laymen of the Church of Greece.

The decisions of the committee will be submitted to the Hierarchy of the Church for final approval.

Earlier in the meeting, the metropolitan bishop of Messinia, Chrysostomos, walked out of the proceedings without making any comments to the press.

Chrysostomos, a vocal opponent of the plan, reportedly departed after being chastised by Archbishop Ieronymos for his overly critical tone.

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