Church wants its land back

Archbishop Ieronymos yesterday appealed to the state to release land and other assets expropriated from the Church of Greece, noting that the Church would respond by creating a welfare fund to support charitable causes. Addressing the Holy Synod, Ieronymos noted that if these assets were returned to the Church the income they would generate would help cover its «huge» operational costs. A close cooperation between the Church and the state – «involving honesty, transparency and binding state guarantees» – would result in the best exploitation of Church assets, he said. Comments made by the Bishop of Ioannina, Theoklitos, made it clear that clerics are preoccupied with the impending taxation of Church property, as pledged by George Papandreou before he became prime minister. «The issue now is how we convince the government to handle the issue fairly, proceeding with taxes for land belonging to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Catholic Church.»