Greece’s newly-elected New Democracy Party on Tuesday scrapped plans to remove priests from the state payroll, reversing a decision by the former Syriza government that aimed to have a clear distinction between church and state.
Priests in the Greek Orthodox Church are civil servants in Greece and their salaries are paid directly from the state budget.
However last October, the Syriza government reached a tentative agreement with the Church to remove 10,000 clerics from the state payroll and instead offer an annual subsidy to a special church fund.
Members of the clergy complained that they did not want to lose their civil servant status.
The deal also foresaw a settlement of a decades-old dispute over property rights between the Greek state and the Church, which is one of Greece’s largest real estate owners.
At a meeting with Archbishop Ieronymos of the Church of Greece on Tuesday, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said his government did not plan to amend constitutional articles concerning the status of the Orthodox Church.
The two men also agreed that there should be a discussion over the use of Church property, the Prime Minister’s office said in a statement.