Church warned to reform

On the eve of a meeting by top churchmen to discuss the alleged trial-fixing, corruption and sex scandals besetting the Church of Greece, government sources warned yesterday that unless swift internal action is taken the State will be forced to intervene in the running of the Church. «We conveyed the message, by every means, that there can be no leeway whatsoever for delays… and that if the Church fails to act with the required speed and effectiveness the State will be forced to intervene,» the source told Kathimerini. Meanwhile, reactions grew to an article posted on the official Church website on Wednesday – but disowned by the Church yesterday – bemoaning attacks against the clergy by what it called «a political and journalistic circus.» Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said he did not consider himself a member of any circus, while opposition leader George Papandreou denounced the «libelous» text and called for a referendum on separating Church from State. Today, the plenary session of the Church’s 80 bishops, chaired by Archbishop Christodoulos, will discuss ways of reforming the Church after weeks of scandalous allegations involving at least three bishops and two priests – Iakovos Yiossakis, who already faces charges of antiquities theft and is allegedly at the heart of a trial-fixing scandal involving several judges, and Serapheim Kouloussousas, a former close aide to Christodoulos who has been linked with a gay sex scandal. Kouloussousas left the Church this week, and is reportedly planning to enter the fashion business in Paris. The Church has already suspended Panteleimon, Bishop of Attica, for six months pending an investigation of claims he tried to influence judges. Panteleimon, who reportedly came under renewed pressure from his peers yesterday to resign, has also been implicated in a separate gay sex scandal. The Church officially regards homosexuality as an abomination. Today, Christodoulos – who dissident bishops say should be investigated for his alleged links with shady figures, including former protege Apostolos Vavilis, a convicted drug dealer – is expected to propose allowing state auditing of Church finances.

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