Archbishop calls Synod meet

The head of the Church of Greece confirmed yesterday that he will call an extraordinary meeting of the institution’s top clerics to discuss recent scandals, while the government insisted that it had no plans to separate the Church from the State in the wake of damaging revelations. Archbishop Christodoulos said that he intends to call a meeting of the Orthodox Church’s hierarchs – a 102-member synod that normally meets only once a year – to tackle corruption allegations that have rocked the Church in recent weeks. Christodoulos did not say when the Church’s highest administrative body would convene, but it is thought that the meeting will take place by the end of the month. «I am aware of the Church’s problems and what has been said and heard these days has caused me sorrow,» said the archbishop, who has been meeting with bishops repeatedly this week as well as sitting in on sessions of the standing Holy Synod, the Church’s ruling body. In the wake of claims by a Mount Athos priest on Thursday that he wrote a recommendation letter in 2002 for convicted drug dealer Apostolos Vavilis, who was due to stand trial, Christodoulos also pleaded that letters issued by clerics should not be taken out of a religious context. The government, meanwhile, reiterated that it would not seek to reform the constitution and implement a clearer separation between Church and State. «At this moment in time, when the Church of Greece appears to be wounded, we should not approach the problem on political or ideological terms,» said Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras. «The government has no intention of starting a dialogue to change the status in the relationship between Church and State,» Education and Religion Minister Marietta Giannakou told Parliament.

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