By Renee Maltezou
ATHENS – A senior cleric has accused Greece’s socialist government of being hostile to the Orthodox Church for imposing taxes on it as part of a drive to tame a budget crisis that has shaken global markets.
Greece, where about 90 percent of the 11 million-strong population are Christian Orthodox, will tax bequests and revenues from church property as it seeks to tackle a 300 billion euro ($409.9 billion) debt pile.
In a country where a bishop sits on the board of the biggest bank and the top cleric swears in the government, many on the streets of Athens felt the church should do its bit given the sacrifices they are making.
“It was about time the Church paid. It’s fair,” said Christina Alexiadou, 55, an accountant and frequent church-goer. “It can’t be that only ordinary people pay for everything.”
The Church of Greece, one of the country’s biggest owners of prime real estate, has until now been largely exempt from taxes even though the state pays priests’ salaries.