[MGSA-L] Church and state in Greece - A new concordat?

George Baloglou gbaloglou at gmail.com
Sun Nov 23 02:14:28 PST 2014

Check top of http://www.topontiki.gr/skitsografies/85370 for a somewhat
related cartoon!

On Sun, Nov 23, 2014 at 11:57 AM, Akis Gavriilidis <cr33396 at telenet.be>

 One pragmatic correction:
> SYRIZA is NOT committed to separating church and state.
> The "veteran of the communist youth movement" recently visited Mount Athos
> and expressed his admiration for the Orthodox monastic lifestyle. He made
> no hint whatsoever about any plans to limit the dominant position of the
> Church ideologically, economically or otherwise.
> http://www.tovima.gr/politics/article/?aid=622115
> On 22/11/2014 21:55, June Samaras wrote:
>  Church and state in Greece - A new concordat?
>  http://www.economist.com/blogs/erasmus/2014/11/church-and-state-greece
>  Nov 21st 2014, 14:48 BY B.C. | THESSALONIKI
>  IN THE churches of this country's second city, some of which date from
> the Byzantine era, there was a decent turnout of worshippers this morning
> for one of the most enigmatic and mystical rites of the Greek church
> calendar: a service commemorating the moment when the Virgin Mary, as a
> young girl, is said to have gone to live in the Jerusalem Temple and
> prepared to become a new kind of "temple" herself by carrying a divine
> child in her womb.
>  The liturgical poetry was reassuringly familiar, but there is
> nervousness in the chilly autumn air. Apart from the personal hardship that
> many church-goers are facing because of a lingering economic crisis, they
> face a new uncertainty in the coming months—the possible advent of a
> leftist government which is committed to separating church and state in
> what has hitherto been one of the most "theocratic" countries in Europe.
> If, as seems very possible, the current legislature fails to muster the
> necessary votes to elevate a new state president early next year, there
> will be early parliamentary elections, and the leftist Syriza party—led by
> a veteran of the communist youth movement, Alexis Tsipras—could well top
> the poll.
>  At full stretch, severing the connection between church and state would
> presumably mean: i) stripping the Orthodox church of its constitutionally
> guaranteed role as the "prevailing religion" in Greece; ii) ending the
> arrangement where priests and many other people who work for the church are
> on the state pay-roll; iii) tidying up and in some cases sequestering the
> church's vast and ill-defined property portfolio; iv) putting a stop to the
> prayers and confessional instruction which are part of the daily diet for
> almost all pupils at state schools; v) ending all tax exemptions for
> religious institutions. Certainly there are plenty of secular leftists in
> Greece who would love to do all that. At a time when Greece's old
> left-right fissures are widening again, there is lots of anti-clerical
> feeling among socialists who suspect the church leadership of colluding
> with the political right or even far-right. But in reality, say people
> close to the world of church-state relations, the old ties are loosening
> already and this process might not accelerate all that much under a
> hard-leftist government.
>  Already, under a conservative-led government, the rate at which priests
> are being ordained, and hence joining the state pay-roll, has slowed to a
> trickle—not for any ideological reason but because of
> internationally-mandated budget cuts. And the old practice of inculcating
> school-children with Orthodox Christian doctrine is giving way to something
> more like "religious studies" as classrooms fill up with migrants from
> places ranging from Albania to China.
>  And for several reasons, a Syriza-led government would hold probably
> hold back from a head-on confrontation with the church. One is that the
> church has played a big role in providing food, medicine and other basics
> to victims of the economic crisis who would otherwise be desperate; Syriza
> might not like that state of affairs, but it can't be changed overnight.
> Another is that changing any part of the Greek constitution is a burdensome
> procedure—it can't be done in the lifetime of a single parliament—and
> stripping out all the provisions which privilege the church and various
> monasteries would take an enormous amount of political energy and time. Yet
> another is that Greece has a small but modestly flourishing tradition of
> "religious leftism"—people who combine religious faith with radical
> political ideas—and that is one of the many impulses that Syriza seeks to
> harness.
>  A new biography has just appeared of one of Greece's better-known
> champions of the political left. A turbulent cleric called Father George
> Pirounakis who opposed the right-wing dictatorship of 1967-1974, supported
> student uprisings against the junta, and later demanded that bishops who
> had succoured the tyrants should be held to account. During the 1980s, he
> was temporarily suspended from ecclesiastical life because he agreed to
> help an initiative by a Socialist government that would have stripped the
> church of some of its land. By the end of his life in 1988, he was
> disappointed by the fact that church and state leadership had settled their
> differences by striking a cosy political bargain that left the property
> holdings intact. Such bargains have been struck many times in the past, and
> the chances are that there will be plenty more.
>  --
> June Samaras
> 2020 Old Station Rd
> Streetsville,Ontario
> Canada L5M 2V1
> Tel : 905-542-1877
> E-mail : june.samaras at gmail.com
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Γιώργος Μπαλόγλου -- Θεσσαλονίκη

http://www.oswego.edu/~baloglou (1988 - 2008)

http://crystallomath.wordpress.com (2009 - )
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