Leaders in the Greek Orthodox Church have denounced the government’s plan to introduce a civil partnerships law, saying it effectively sanctioned prostitution. The denunciation comes even though the new head of the church has signaled he would not oppose the bill, Religious Intelligence reports.
The 13 bishops of the Greek Orthodox Church’s standing committee said on March 17 that the bill was unacceptable. “The Church accepts and blesses the established wedding, according to Orthodox traditions, and considers any other type of similar relationship to be prostitution,” the committee said.
On March 13 Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis briefed Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All-Greece on the government plan to allow unmarried couples to register their unions with civil notaries, making their relationship equal to marriage in the eyes of the state.
After his meeting with the justice minister, Archbishop Ieronymos affirmed the Church’s fidelity to the Bible, the rules of the Church, the ecumenical synods, and the “holy tradition.”
“As a result, there are clear limits and in respect to this matter, the Church does not have the right to ask for it to be watered down or to have any other request granted,” the archbishop said, according to the Athens newspaper Kathimerini. Archbishop Ieronymos said the “Church cannot keep a check” on cohabitation and fornication through “enforcing measures like the police.”
Bishop Anthimos of Thessaloniki was asked to explain the difference of opinion between the Church’s standing committee and the archbishop. He said Archbishop Ieronymos’ comments were the “opinion of one person, this is the opinion of 13.”
Bishop Anthimos was considered a candidate for the archbishopric of Athens before Archbishop Ieronymos was elected to the office on February 7. The Greek Orthodox Church claims about 90 percent of Greeks as members.