Priests protest ban from schools

The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece yesterday strongly condemned an Education Ministry decision banning the practice of priests visiting schools to hear children’s confessions. The decision was made in the wake of appeals by schoolchildren’s parents and the citizens’ Ombudsman, who deemed that schools were not an appropriate setting for confessions. Reacting to the ministry’s circular, the 12-bishop Synod sent a written complaint to Education and Religion Minister Marietta Giannakou, stressing that «the real interests of the children (should) be put above any kind of expediency.» Giannakou said she would reply to the Church’s letter once she received it. Meanwhile, a statement issued by the Synod criticized the move as «turning against the children themselves and depriving them of a unique opportunity to share with a priest their difficult, and occasionally intense, problems.» «At a time when transgressions by schoolchildren are increasing at a remarkable rate… the presence of a spiritual father in school to talk to the children and listen to their questions is regarded as completely indispensable,» the statement said. The Federation of Secondary School Teachers (OLME) called the decision «positive» and «compatible with a new multicultural era.»