Greece Church and State
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
The separation of church and state is a concept that is alien to Greece, because of the unusually close relationship between Orthodox Christianity and the Greek national identity. Historically, the Orthodox Church hierarchy has been a conservative political force that generally has supported the monarchy and opposed communism. Its organization and administration, if not its religious tenets, have been subject to state influence. For this reason, although the church is the only Greek nongovernmental institution built upon the concept of community, it does not contribute to the nation's narrow range of permanent interest groups. The church's politicization has meant frequent instances of internal factionalism. With this situation in mind, the PASOK administrations of the 1980s tried to end the church's reliance on the Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs, which administers church property and employs all church officials. The goal of such a change was to achieve administrative separation of church and state.
In the 1980s, some indicators showed a decline in the church's capacity to exert influence on the political process. A case in point was the church's failure, despite public opposition, to prevent a PASOK-sponsored Family Law from being enacted in 1983. That law reformed a range of social traditions, for the first time permitting civil marriage and divorce (see The Social Order , ch. 2). On the other hand, in 1987 the government's attempt to confiscate and redistribute church property provoked bitter confrontations that eventually forced the state to back down and a government minister to resign in disgrace.
At the end of the ND administration and the beginning of the new Papandreou regime of 1993, the government was embarrassed again by well-publicized church-state wrangling over a political issue. This time a series of episcopal appointments approved by Greece's Holy Synod collided with the vociferous and even violent refusal of incumbents to leave their positions.
Data as of December 1994
NOTE: The information regarding Greece on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Greece Church and State information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Greece Church and State should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.