Greece’s Archbishop: People Will Decide Church-State Relation


Athens, October 5, 2016


“The Church was, is and will always be the mother of
our people, with whatever that entails,” said
Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and all Greece,
continuing the confrontation with Education Minister Nikos
Filis and his decision to change religious courses in

“The State, if it so wishes, and has the consent of
the people, can try to separate itself from the Church,
observing strictly the obligations it has undertaken
towards the Church and all relevant contracts,” the
statement continues.

That was the key reference in Tuesday’s speech by
Ieronymos during the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Church
of Greece. It was in response to Filis’ negative
allegations about the role of the Church during the German
Occupation and the dictatorship.

The reference to the “consent of the people”
is not an indirect proposal for recourse to a referendum,
said a Church of Greece spokesman to Kathimerini
newspaper. “The State does not want, nor indeed can
be separated from the Church in terms of society,”
he added.

During his speech, Ieronymos alleged that the leftist
government has a specific agenda to alter the Christian
faith and to convert religious lessons in schools to an
interfaith jumble.

“The parties of the Left with their known communist
worldview — as experienced before the collapse of
socialism in the eastern bloc, when in essence religious
faith was persecuted — are driven by failed
atheistic ideologies and meet with the neoliberal parties
under the directives of the new era and the new order. The
talk of Church-State separation is supposedly a
progressive slogan. These perceptions, however, belong to
the previous century, born under a bigoted, anti-religious
and anti-church populist spirit that is incompatible with
today’s beliefs about the state and religion,”
the Archbishop said.

Ieronymos also said that there is a lot of needless talk
and procrastination on two issues that need to be resolved
immediately, namely religious courses in schools and
proper utilization of Church assets. He said that should
be done in cooperation with the state so that the Church
continues its social welfare work.

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