The cohesion of Archbishop Ieronymos’s inner circle is reportedly at stake as its members are said to have resorted to an acrimonious blame game of sorts after the deal with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to remove clerics from the state payroll fell through last week.
The knives reportedly came out after the rejection of the proposal – part of the tentative deal which sought to change the relationship between the state and the Church of Greece – last Friday by the Holy Synod.
A church source told Kathimerini that in the days leading up to the meeting of the Holy Synod, members of the archbishop’s inner circle, who were the chief negotiators, rallied behind the deal only for their stance to change in the wake of its rejection.
“After Friday it has been ‘It’s not my fault, it’s his fault,’” said the church source.
Apart from blaming each other in the wake of the deal’s rejection, aides to Ieronymos have also lambasted government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos for publicly promising 10,000 public sector jobs would be made available with the removal of clerics from the state payroll.
The deal’s defeat also suggested a large number of bishops doubt the leadership of Ieronymos, who has been accosted for allegedly acting without consulting senior church leaders.
However, the fact that Tsipras did not move unilaterally to pass the deal into legislation has somewhat softened the criticism against the archbishop.
Moreover, Bishop Chrysostomos of Dodoni gave his backing to Ieronymos on Tuesday, telling Skai TV that he “wasn’t obliged to inform the church hierarchy about the deal beforehand.”