Greece’s Education Minister Nikos Filis said that he is not backing down on his decision to change religious study courses in Greek schools because he has the support of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
The changes in religion courses are becoming studies of various world religions with emphasis on Greek Orthodoxy. Previously, religion classes were based on Greek Orthodox catechism. As a result, the changes created a squabble between the education minister and Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and all Greece.
Filis gave an interview on Sunday’s Vima newspaper where he accused Ieronymos for changing his mind after he had agreed on the new way of teaching religion classes. He said that at a dinner held at Maximos Mansion, Ieronymos and other bishops and church officials had agreed with the proposed religion courses. Later, Filis claimed, the Archbishop succumbed to the pressures of extreme patriarchs and the confrontation with the Ecumenical Patriach.
Furthermore, Filis said that the lesson of religion is a state issue, not a Church issue and the government would have been ridiculed if the minister changed back religion courses.
At the same time, the newspaper cites a source from the Archdiocese saying that “insults, slander and accusations is the convenient resort of those who make tactical and strategic political moves in sensitive national, cultural and religious issues.”
The source denies that the Ecumenical Patriarchate was ever involved in the argument and claims that Filis’ approach is divisive. At the same time, he said that the issue of religion classes was never discussed during the Maximos Mansion dinner.
Regardless of the arguments from the Church’s side, the education minister said he stands by his decisions since he has the prime minister’s support on the issue.