Separation talk angers the Church

The Church of Greece yesterday voiced its opposition to any ideas the government may have about separating the Church from the state and suggested that it would mobilize popular support if the ruling conservatives go ahead with such a reform. In a statement, the Holy Synod said that those involved in drafting a law that could put distance between the two institutions were «self-appointed, apprentice sorcerers of alienation.» Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos confirmed yesterday that Education and Religion Minister Marietta Giannakou had met with the non-governmental organization Union for Human Rights, which has put forward a proposal toward changing the law to bring about a separation between the Church and state. At present, the state funds the Church with priests being granted the financial status of civil servants. The Holy Synod said that efforts to change this were designed to turn Greece into an atheist country. It said this was happening against the will of the Greek people and that only they had the responsibility to make such a decision.