Archbishop Ieronymos on Friday assured clerics of the Greek Orthodox Church that an agreement for the separation of church and state that is currently under discussion will safeguard their rights.
“The agreement will be re-examined, it will go back to the Hierarchy,” Ieronymos said during a visit to the central offices of the Holy Association of Clerics. “The Hierarchy can approve it, amend it or reject it. If it moves ahead, then we can talk about it again.”
The Archbishop of Athens and All Greece reached a preliminary agreement last month with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that foresees clerics' salaries being removed from the state payroll and instead subsidized with public money, the joint development of disputed real estate assets and the establishment of a “religion-neutral” state.
The agreement has met with staunch opposition from the clergy and from within the Hierarchy, as well as from the political opposition.
“Our priests are our eyes and our hands, and without them we could not survive,” Ieronymos told the clerics. He also submitting a memo assuring that any changes made to their or the Church's status will be enshrined in the Greek Constitution.