The government of Alexis Tsipras and the Greek Orthodox Church today took a first step towards a clear separation of powers and agreed, among other measures, that clerics cease to be considered State officials.
After a meeting with the archbishop of Athens and all Greece, Jerome II, Tsipras said that the goal is to create a legislative framework that "solve historical problems", regulate the role of the Church and "reinforce its autonomy vis-à-vis the State".
The agreement is part of the Government's intention to grant the Church a "neutral" role.
Although de jure Greece is a secular state, de facto the Church has had until now a factual power, with numerous privileges, such as being exempt from payment of property tax (IBI), a benefit that the Supreme Administrative Court annulled today partially.
According to the judgment of this court, from now on, only the places of worship will be exempt from the IBI, but not the monasteries.
Although the sealed agreement between Tsipras and Jerónimo contemplates that the clerics cease to be considered officials, the State will continue to run with their salary remunerations, although indirectly.
Thus, the State commits itself to pay annually to the Church in the form of a subsidy "the amount corresponding to the salary cost of the active priests".
The annual subsidy will be paid to a special fund that will be administered jointly by the Church and the State.