Greece’s Orthodox Church says it wants priests to remain civil servants, rejecting part of a recent government offer to switch a payroll system for clergymen.
The church on Friday announced it had voted unanimously “to retain the existing payroll status of the clergy and laymen of the Church of Greece.”
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had called on the church to back a series of government proposed reforms aimed at settling decades-old property disputes and moving priests off the state payroll to a separate publicly-funded structure.
Tsipras had met Church leader, Archbishop Ieronymos, and later said the scheme would free up 10,000 new positions in the public sector amid hiring restrictions that remain in place after the country’s international bailouts. Hieronymos had appeared to agree with the proposals at the November 6 meeting.
The government is seeking church support for a proposed constitutional revision that would be finalised by the next parliament and would include provisions to scrap the religious oath for lawmakers, declaring the Greek state “religiously neutral.”
More than 90 percent of Greek citizens are baptized Orthodox Christian, according to official estimates.
In Friday’s Holy Synod decision, the church said it wished to have continued dialogue with the state and announced it would establish a special commission to examine “issues of common interest.”
*Source: Associated Press