Athens, September 8, 2016
According to the new circular of the nations’
Ministry of Education, teachers’ and students’
joint morning prayers, beginning this year, have ceased to
be mandatory in all educational institutions of Greece,
reports RIA-Novosti, with
reference to the Greek news agency Newsone.
Orthodoxy is the state religion in Greece; ninety-eight
percent of its citizens belong to the Greek Orthodox
Church. At the same time, the constitution guarantees
freedom of religion for all citizens.
Before the beginning of the academic year all academic
institutions of Greece received the circular from the
Ministry of Education, which for the first time did not
mention morning prayer. “The daily school program
begins at 8 AM… At 8:10 after the bell the
entrances are closed and the students gather in their
assigned places, with all teachers supervising
them,” states the ministry’s circular.
However, the Greek Orthodox Church insists that morning
prayer in schools not be abolished. According to the
statement of the Church’s Permanent Synod, common
prayer amongst students and teachers is in accordance with
that which was stipulated in a presidential decree of
1998, which has not been annulled.
On Monday, September 5, 2016 the first meeting of the Holy
Synod of the Church of Greece took place under the
chairmanship of His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of
Athens and All Greece, reports the Greek publication
A special service for the beginning of the work of the
Holy Synod was served before the meeting. Then His
Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos welcomed the new members of
the Holy Synod and wished a prosperous outcome of their
work in a spirit of love and cooperation.
One of the meeting’s key themes was that of common
prayer in educational institutions.
“On the occasion of the beginning of the school year
the Church of Greece urges all to pray to God that He
would strengthen every member of the school
communities—teachers, instructors, students,
administrative representatives, and parents. In particular
the Greek Church calls for prayer for the leadership of
the Ministry of Education, that with its assistance Greek
schools could stand against this universal crisis from
which our people, a quality and comprehensive education,
and support and optimism all suffer.
At the school desk is shaped our homeland’s
tomorrow—brighter, knowing its history and glorious
traditions, and ready to confront the modern world and not
lose its identity.
We call upon Greek society to support every educational
level by all possible means, considering it a matter of
In this matter the Church is always ready to help in
promoting the intellectual development of our students,
supporting them in all needs.
Finally, in connection with publications in which it is
mentioned that school prayer is canceled, we clarify that
morning prayer in schools is provided for in accordance
with Presidential Decree 201/1998. The same order is
repeated in the Ministry of Education’s circular
which reminds us that ‘the directives of Presidential
Decree 201/1998 are in effect…’”
In particular, in accordance with article 13, paragraph 5
of Presidential Decree 201/1998 it is stipulated that
“before the beginning of lessons, common prayer
between students and teachers is to be carried out in the
schoolyard. This responsibility is placed upon the
teachers on duty…”