GI priests get the go-ahead

Greek Orthodox priests and monks will soon be trading their cassocks for military uniforms, after the Ministry of Defense adopted a motion whereby members of the Church can now be called up for national service, the army said yesterday. «The idea for priests and monks to play a greater role in society by fulfilling their obligations to it will help them develop and mature,» a Greek Orthodox leader told Agence France-Presse news agency. Greek men are obliged to complete 12 months of national service but members of religious orders have so far been exempt from this duty. [The move for priests to do their service in the military was among a set of measures proposed in February by Archbishop Christodoulos, the head of the Church of Greece, following a series of scandals involving clergy of various ranks.] The Orthodox Church, reputed for its nationalism, lobbied against the establishment of an alternative civilian national service that came into being in 1997 under pressure from the EU. (AFP)