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Church Promises Aid to Weakest

The serious economic crisis which Greece is experiencing has also affected the powerful Greek Orthodox Church, which continues to make its disagreement known over the actions taken by Socialist prime minister George Papandreou.
Interventions which, however, some parts of the government – who accuse the ecclesiastical authorities of using all of their power to oppose the taxation of the Church’s enormous real estate property – see as interference into state affairs.
Following a circular by the Metropolitan Nikolaos of Mesogaias and Lavreotikis in which the high prelate lashed out at the government’s economic policies (urging believers to engage in civil disobedience in a slightly veiled manner), even the Holy Synod – the highest authority in the Greek Church composed of about 80 bishops – dealt with the issue during the last meeting chaired by the Athens archbishop and all of Greek Ieronymos.
”The Holy Synod” in a statement released at the end of the meeting of the highest representatives of the ecclesiastical hierarch, ” has unanimously decided to address its flock to speak exclusively of the serious economic crisis which has struck our country, creating unbearable and extremely unfavourable conditions for the population and for our national dignity.”
”In this very difficult period,” continued the document, ”of doubts and desperation, speculation and conjecture concerning the likely dark future awaiting our country, and the unpleasant consequences of people having their rights taken from them, we ask and urge you to listen to the fundamental truths concerning the problems of the present situation, which is extremely difficult.”
”The Church, as it has always done, will help as much as it can all those hit by the hurricane of the economic crisis,” the statement continued, also saying that ”we never ignore or overlook how hard the reality is for workers who have had their salaries cut, for the elderly who have seen their pensions reduced, for the outraged and those of our brothers who are now being put to the test.”
”But we say,” continued the document by the Holy Synod, ”that a halt must be put to additional cuts to the salaries and pensions of our brethren, which are already very low. A halt to more taxes and other income reductions. A halt to these armies of the unemployed.
Find tax evaders and tax large capital. What we must maintain now is our unity, since only by remaining united can we overcome the disaster of the crisis, and at the same time we can seek out new models for survival through human solidarity and reciprocal help.”
The tone of the Holy Synod’s statement, however, was not liked by Environment Deputy Minister Nikos Sifunakis, who reacted by accusing the high-ranking authorities of the Orthodox Church ”of being hostage to far-right circles”. ”Instead of rushing to their aid,” said Sifunakis,” the metropolitans behave like demagogues to avoid making the right decisions which they should (i.e. accepting the taxation of their assets, Ed.) and help the country.”
The deputy minister however spared Archbishop Ieronymos criticism, calling him a ”man with a history to his name and with demonstrated merits, who I am certain will oppose the divisive climate being created in the Church by some revanchists.”

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