The outspoken Bishop of Thessaloniki yesterday called on the government to withdraw a recommendation it has proposed to schools that makes it easier for students to skip religion classes. The Education Ministry issued a circular last week instructing teachers that schoolchildren at primary and secondary schools can miss the classes without their parents having to provide a reason, as is now the case. Bishop Anthimos said that this was the latest in a series of moves by governments over the last few years to erode the influence of the Orthodox Church. «Religion lessons have to be compulsory and untouched as part of the curriculum for the education of Greek children, just as the constitution states,» said Anthimos during his Sunday service. The bishop also cast doubt on the government’s claims that Greece needs to adopt the measure to comply with European Union regulations.