The Greek state keeps collecting taxes from crisis-hit citizens while wealthy Greek ship-owning families as well the Greek Orthodox Church are exempt from taxation, reports Nikolaj Nielsen for the EU Observer.
The Greek Orthodox Church remains the country’s largest property owner. However, real-estate scandals have created a public outcry against the Church and have urged Greek citizens to “commit a sin” and ask that the Church pay its corresponding measure of taxes as everyone else in Greece. Additionally, economic scandals have arisen in which heads of the Church are involved.
A representative of the Church of Greece to the European Union, Metropolitan Athanasios, told reporters in Brussels that “allegations that the Orthodox Church does not contribute its fair share to the Greek people in times of crisis are unfounded.” In a bid to defend the Greek Church, he stated that there is transparency in their purchases.
Less than a year ago and while the country was facing the biggest financial challenges in decades, about 2,600 members of the Vatopaidi Monastery in Mount Athos opposed the decision of the Greek Ministry of Finance to tax the Church for its commercial property.
Moreover, its chief operator, Abbot Ephraim, faces charges on money laundering and embezzlement in a land swap. Ephraim was held some months imprisoned but was released after four months and is now residing at the monastery in Mount Athos.