LAST UPDATE: 13:36
In an interview for the radio station “News 24/7”, Minister of Education and Religious Affairs Kostas Gavroglou commented that the government’s proposal guaranteed clerics’ labour rights more than today.
“There is a ruling of the Council of State saying that the clerics are not civil servants. We strengthen the status that says that they are employees of the Church. The Association of Clergy of Greece, through its spokesman, makes statements which do neither us nor society any credit,” he stressed.
The minister of Education also said: “We gave them a ten-page text and they say we disagree without explaining the reasons of their disagreement. And at the end they say there are 12,000 ambons while elections are coming. Are they blackmailing us? This is not the line of the Church. The Archbishop has never even implied something like that. Some people have exceeded the ‘red lines’.”
The minister noted that there are only 6,000 permanent posts in a total of 10,000. “We have clarified that we want to put matters in order. We want to correct the disarrangement that is at the expense of the clergy. So if the dialogue advances, we can boost permanent posts for the other 4,000 clerics. An ‘all or nothing’ system is applicable, as laid down by Article 15 of the Agreement.”
On the part of the government, Kostas Gavroglou says: “There is absolutely no intention of postponing decisions on this matter indefinitely.” Right now we want to cover every aspect of the issue, he said.
He added that it was possible to make changes to the text of the agreement, while he praised Archbishop Ieronymos, stressing that “it is fortunate that the Church is led by Archbishop Ieronymos. Obviously the process for his succession have begun, but he is respected by the majority of the hierarchs, I believe.”
Regarding the religious lesson, he noted that writing a schoolbook takes about a year and a half. “We are in the process of opening a tender process for a new schoolbook for the religious lesson. The dialogue with the Church has been concluded.”