Support for move to scrap oath-taking

A suggestion by Archbishop Ieronymos, the head of the Church of Greece, in last Sunday’s Kathimerini that the taking of religious oaths – particularly by politicians – should be abolished, has received the support of several bishops and political parties. Ieronymos drew some criticism for his comment that the «abolition of the religious oath does not create any problems for the Church.» The archbishop was not specific about which swearing-in ceremonies he would be content to see scrapped, but it has been interpreted that he was mainly referring to MPs and ministers taking oaths. Civil servants are also sworn in. Despite some opposition, one of the Church’s hardliners, Bishop Anthimos of Thessaloniki told Sunday’s Kathimerini that he «did not disagree» with Ieronymos’s position, although he went on to argue that if the oath had no importance, the state would have already done away with it. Bishop Chrysostomos of Messenia, Ignatios of Dimitrias and Chrysostomos of Zakynthos said that Ieronymos was correct to raise the issue. «It is not right that we accept some people toying with us when they take an oath in which they do not believe … for example, they cannot swear on the bible to uphold the Constitution and then not abide by it,» said Bishop Chrysostomos. The government has not commented on Ieronymos’s proposal, but several conservative deputies have expressed support for the move, which has also been welcomed by PASOK, the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) and the Communist Party. The right-wing Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) opposes the suggestion put forward by the archbishop.

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