Center for Documentation and Information
on Minorities in Europe - Southeast Europe (CEDIME-SE)
MINORITIES IN SOUTHEAST EUROPE
Catholics of Greece
This report was
researched and written by Vasilis Angouras, Researcher of CEDIME-SE. It was
edited by Panayote Dimitras, Director of CEDIME-SE; Nafsika Papanikolatos,
Coordinator of CEDIME-SE; Mariana Lenkova, English Editor of CEDIME-SE.
CEDIME-SE would like to express its deep appreciation to the external reviewers
of this report, Krassimir Kanev, Chairman of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee,
Dimitris Levantis, Legal Advisor of the Catholic Community of Greece, and
Father Pavlos Buhayer of the Catholic Church in Greece, who, with their
critical comments, contributed substantially to its quality. CEDIME-SE would
also like to thank all persons who generously provided information and/or
documents, and/or gave interviews to its researcher. The responsibility for the
report’s content, though, lies only with CEDIME-SE. We welcome all comments
sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
(in English, in the dominant language and –if different- in the minority’s
there any form of recognition of the minority?
Catholics are indirectly
recognized as a minority (a community of worshipers whose faith is other than
that of the majority) through the acknowledgement of their religion as a “known
religion,” something that provides official recognition for freedom of worship.
Category (-ies) (national,
ethnic, linguistic or religious) ascribed by the minority and, if different, by
Religious minority. Greek
legislation does not have any legal definition of the term “minority.” Within the Greek Constitution the rights of minority
members are covered within the provisions of the common law, but on an
individual basis the liberal expression of a minority identity is usually
Territory they inhabit
Greek Catholics live mainly in Athens, the Aegean islands of Tinos, and Syros, and the
Ionian island of Corfu. Communities with a few Catholic members can
also be found in Crete, Rhodes, Patras, Macedonia, Volos and Santorini.
Traditional Greek Catholics number around
50,000. There are some 100,000-150,000 new immigrants. The oldest and biggest
Catholic migrant communities are the Poles (approximately 80,000) and the
Filipinos (approximately 40,000). There are also 45,000 other catholic immigrants
from the Ukraine and Iraq, Africa and Asia. A
significant number of foreign Catholics are married to ethnic Greeks.
Name of the language spoken by the minority (in
English, in the minority and –if different- in the dominant language)
Greek. Catholic immigrants speak their mother
tongue and some attend masses held in their own language.
Is it an officially recognized language?
Is there any form of recognition of the
Dominant language of the territory they inhabit
or daily use of the minority language
to education corresponding to the needs of the minority
Catholics in Greece
follow the same curriculum as all other students in the Greek public schools.
Some schools that belong to the Catholic Church offer extra courses on
religious education and French. Polish pupils recently acquired their own
school in Athens,
where they are taught both in Greek and Polish. (see section 6)
Most Catholics practice
Catholicism of the Latin Rite (Roman Catholicism), but some 3,000 people are
followers of Catholicism of the Eastern Rite (Uniate).
it an officially recognized religion?
Catholic religion is recognized as a “known religion” according to the decision
of the State Council. The Catholic Church, however, has no legal personality
while its bishoprics and foundations (with the exception of the Archbishopric
of Athens) are legal entities whose status is not clearly defined as either
public or civic. In practice, the state has also recognized the Catholic
Church’s power to exercise public administration by accepting the Catholic
wedding certificates, baptism certificates, etc. Catholic priests and monks,
for example, are exempt from serving in the Greek armed forces.
Is there any form of recognition of the
The notion of “known religion” is the constitutional
presupposition for the official recognition and the granting of freedom of
religious practice to a religion in Greece. Also, the Catholic
Church operated different places of worship, has monasteries and other
Communities having the same characteristics in
There are Catholics all over the world. In the
Balkans Catholics can be found in Croatia and Slovenia (where they are the majority of the
population), Bosnia and Albania (large minorities in predominantly Muslim countries), Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia and Macedonia (smaller minorities in predominantly Orthodox
of these communities in the other countries of Southeast Europe:
are spread throughout the world, mainly in Western Europe and Latin America. They
number around 872 million people (The World Directory on Minorities, 1997).
· Albania: 10% of the overall population of 3.4 million.
Some 4,000 of them follow the Eastern Rite.
Romania: 6% of the overall population
of 22.7 million. Around 3,000 of them follow the Eastern Rite.
1990, about 587,000 people registered as Catholics of the Eastern Rite.
very small minority (Roman Catholic and Uniate) comprising just 0.4% of the
overall population of 1,935,034.
Around 53,074 Catholics in a population of 8,487,000. Catholics of the Eastern
Rite are estimated to be between 6,000-20,000 people.
1. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
1.1. Important historical developments
Foundation of the first communities: The
presence of the Catholic Church in Greece,
contrary to a widely accepted view, began before the occupation of Constantinople by
the Crusaders in 1204. The so-called East Illyrian region (continental Greece and
the Cyclades) was under the
Pope’s jurisdiction until 731. In the next three centuries until the schism in
1054 (and the two centuries that followed) the Crusaders prevailed and the
Latin communities continued to exist in many parts of the Byzantine
Empire. Venetian and Genovese sea traders had settled
in the East.
addition, the schism did not automatically split the Christian communities in Byzantium.
Although devotees chose to follow one or the other Church, relations between
them continued to be stable and good. Research in the archives of the Catholic
bishoprics of the Cyclades
showed that churches belonging to both denominations existed for a long time
after the schism. It seems that the inhabitants of the Cyclades
realized that there was some kind of a problem between Rome and
only after the first unification efforts began. For them, the call for
unification meant that a split had happened.
after the Crusaders’ invasion, a number of Latin bishops were appointed in many
ecclesiastical provinces in the East, replacing the Eastern ones who refused to
accept Papal authority and were expelled. Lower rank clerics and monks carried
out pastoral service of the Orthodox community in these areas. Consequently,
the Byzantines, who pledged to regain these provinces, began to view the Latin
bishops and their church with hostility.
following bishoprics were taken over by the Catholic clergy after the
Crusaders’ invasion in 1204: Athens (1204-1456), Thessaloniki (1204-1224,
1423-1430), Thivon (1205-1450), Corinth (1212-1404), Corfu (1284-still
functioning), Crete (1204-1469), Larissa (1208-1374), Lesvos (1204-1461),
Nafpaktos (1307-1510), Neon Patron (1323-1390), Palaion Patron (1204-1429),
Paros-Naxos (1204-still functioning), Rhodes (1308-1522), Filippon (1212-1224).
These bishoprics did not all have the same fate. Some did not get bishops while
others did not survive after the Crusaders and their descendants left Greece.
The only ones that survived were those that had been ruled for a long time by
efforts to turn these areas into ‘pure’ Catholic provinces were doomed to fail
because the Orthodox community refused to change its beliefs. In other areas,
economic, religious and other reasons prompted the local communities to adopt
Catholicism voluntarily. In these areas, Catholic communities were founded on a
sound local social basis and continue to exist today.
is useful to know that the national origins of many Catholic communities in Greece
have been a matter of contention. There is no reliable historical evidence that
would help solve this mystery hence oftentimes positions on the matter are
personal interpretations and estimates. The same question applies to many of
the Orthodox Christians in those same areas who follow the same customs, have
the same surnames as many Catholics, and are members of mixed families.
the Greek origin of many Catholics in the Cyclades and south Greece is seen in
the fact that they speak the Greek language, have Greek place names, and many
surnames of Byzantine origin; they have Greek social and religious customs, and
did not express religious fanaticism especially before the 10th
century. In these areas the Catholic element is widespread and has witnessed
high demographic rates. It can therefore be concluded that the Catholic
communities in the Cyclades and
have a local origin.
other areas of Greece
like Chios, Naxos and
Crete the presence of the local
Catholic communities does not follow the above pattern. The origins of
Catholics in these gradually diminishing communities can be possibly traced to
immigrants from the West.
characteristic of the Catholic communities are the foreign-sounding surnames.
These surnames usually denote the name of the island where the person’s origin
can be traced. If all Greek Catholics have the same origin then these surnames
should be scattered around the Cyclades.
However, some common Catholic surnames are found on specific islands only,
regardless of the fact that there are other islands with Catholic communities.
So, the origins of the most common Catholic surnames in the Cyclades can
be traced according to the following division. The origins of the Apergis, Armaos, Vidalis, Delatolas,
Zalonis, Prelorenzos, Filipoussis, and Foskolos
are from the island of
The origins of the Voutsinos, Dalezios,
Maragos, Printezis, Roussos, and Freris
- from Syros.
The origins of the Dakoronias, and Delarokas - from Santorini.
prohibited marriage and social mixing between its officials posted on today’s
Greek islands and the local population. The locals, however, were demanded to
adopt a family surname. Hence, it can be deducted that the products of mixed
relationships between Venetians and locals were very few and that many
Catholics of sound Greek origin adopted the surnames of their local rulers or
is notable that differences between the islands can be found among first names
as well. In Tinos,
common first names with western origin are the Concepta, Rabella, Lavrentios,
Allousios, Rokkos, Lucretia and others. In Syros,
western names that can be found are Candita, Leonardo, Sevastianos, and others
(Foskolos, 1987: 207-212).
Religious history of Syros: The island of
part of the Cyclades
complex of islands in the Aegean, is
the center of Catholicism in Greece. In
the year the Greek revolution against the Ottomans began (1821), Syros had
a population of 2,500 inhabitants and almost 800 islanders living in the East.
The vast majority of its inhabitants, 95% of the total, were Catholics. The
Catholic Church had one bishop, 35 priests, 2 Capuchin monks, 2 Jesuit monks,
45 nuns (Dominican, Franciscan and Ursulines), 5 temples and 150 chapels. The
Orthodox Church had one priest, two temples and a following of 150 devotees.
spread on the island at the time of the Crusaders, their descendants and the
Venetians, a period called “Frankokratia,” i.e. the occupation of the Franks,
(1207-1566). Its position as the main religious movement of the island
consolidated under Ottoman rule (1566-1821). The relations of the island with
the West had been strong prior to the Crusades, because Syros was
under Papal authority until 727.
are reasons for the prevalence of Catholicism on the island. It had been on the
margins of the Byzantine Empire for
centuries and remained untouched by the religious conflicts and the Great
Schism. The Byzantine administration always demanded heavy duties from the islanders
and this made them look more favorably to the West. The island saw a lot of
mixed marriages, while the presence of a large number of well-educated Catholic
clerics and monks, who promised to give the local children education according
to the principles of their Church, pushed large numbers of the population to
Catholicism. Finally, the absence of an Orthodox Christian bishop until
refugees fleeing other islands under Ottoman rule founded the present day
capital of the island Ermoupolis in 1823, secured the prevalence of
Catholicism. Some extreme nationalists support the argument that Catholicism
was brought about by a large number of immigrants from the West and the
forceful proselytizing of the locals.
the Frankokratia, the island belonged to the Duchy of Naxos and was subject to
the mild religious policy of the Venetians. The locals’ main occupation was
agriculture, while the lower clergy was occupied only with pastoral matters and
not with education. With the consolidation of Ottoman rule in the Aegean, it
appeared preferable for the locals to be members of the Orthodox Church, which
was tolerated by the Ottomans. Regardless of this the island’s population
remained Catholic and in 1600 it persuaded the Ottomans to recognize the
Catholic Bishopric of Syros. In addition, France
officially announced that it had taken the island’s Catholic inhabitants under
its protection. As a direct result of this development, the Ottomans ceased to
appoint Orthodox bishops on the island and the French sent a Capuchin
delegation that opened a convent and began educating the clerics and the
inhabitants of the island. In the beginning of the 18th century, the
island witnessed substantial economic and social prosperity and development
under the high protection of the French. On the verge of the 1821 Greek
Revolution, the island was a very important commercial center (GHM/MRGG 2000:
Religious history of Tinos: The brothers Andreas and
Ieremias Gkyzi lived on the Cycladic island of
1207. Until then the island had been under Byzantine rule. For almost two
centuries, until 1390, Tinos was
the property of this family, which introduced a number of important reforms
that determined the future of the island. The most important ones were the
feudal system of economy and administration (although similar to the Byzantine
one) and the consolidation of the Latin Church with the obligatory
subordination of the island’s bishop to the Pope on behalf of both
the death of the last of the Gkyzis, the island’s inhabitants filed a motion of
subordination to Venice
that was accepted. Between 1537 and 1538 the Algerian pirate Barbarossa, who
was acting on behalf of the Ottomans, occupied Tinos. A
successful uprising of the inhabitants secured Venetian rule until 1715 when
the Ottoman Turks finally subordinated it.
then the island had secured a Catholic majority making it the largest Catholic
community in the Cyclades
numbering between 6,000 and 18,000 devotees during that period. By the time Tinos fell
to the Turks, 60 local clerics served on the island and the Catholics comprised
three fifths of the population. The seat of the island’s bishop was in the
island’s capital, the Castle, which today is called Exomburgh. The Catholic
bishop was responsible for electing the island’s Orthodox Christian
head-priest. The Catholic clergy before the arrival of the monastic orders had
mediocre education, apart from a few of its rich members who had the
opportunity to study in Italy
(GHM/MRGG 2000: 26).
Religious history of other areas: The
consolidation of the Ottoman rule brought a number of changes that affected the
future of the Catholic Church in Greece. In
those areas where the Catholic element was not native, the Orthodox Church
regained control of religious and ecclesiastical authorities. Wealthy members
of the Catholic Church left for safer places and those who stayed turned to
Orthodoxy. Catholics remained only in the areas still under Venetian rule (in
the Peloponnese, the Aegean and
Ionian), Genovese rule (Chios, Lesvos)
and Rhodes (under the rule of the
Maltese Knights). The Cyclades
were the only place with native clergy and devotees.
there was a Latin bishopric, many mixed Churches of both denominations, and
native clergy. In Milos and Kimolos there was a bishopric with a
substantial following, native clergy, a Franciscan monastery and a number of
mixed churches, denoting the good relations between the Orthodox and Catholic
there was a large Catholic community (almost 4,000), most of whom were
Venetians. There were also Dominican and Franciscan monasteries, a number of
parishes and a large number of Uniats.
the years of Venetian rule many Catholics turned to the Orthodox Church, which
had undertaken a struggle against the foreign rulers of the island. When the
Venetians abandoned the island, many Catholic bishoprics were taken over by
Orthodox Christian bishops. The local Catholic element in Crete
gradually decayed and reached near-extinction.
should be noted that the last Greek Pope was from Crete.
Peter Filargos, born in the village of
became a Franciscan monk in 1340, and taught philosophy and divinity in Paris. He
was appointed the Archbishop of Milan in 1402, a Cardinal in 1405 and last
became Pope Alexander V in 1409. He was the one that led the two conflicting
Papal authorities of Rome and
seat together in the Conference of Piza that led to the re-unification of the
In Eptanisa --the complex of seven Ionian
Sea islands-- under Venetian rule until 1797, the
Catholics were mostly foreign administrative officials and soldiers. When the
Venetians left, the Catholic community was renewed due to the arrival of other
European and Maltese immigrants. The majority of these immigrants lived on the island of
while some went to Kefallonia and Zakynthos (GHM/MRGG 2000: 27-8).
The Catholic Church in Greece (16th
–18th centuries): Under Ottoman rule, the
Catholics in Greece were not only “rayahs” (the non-Muslim subjects of the
Ottoman Empire) but also suspects of insubordination due to their allegiance to
the Pope, who was the Muslims’ greatest adversary. The Pope was suspected of
trying to unify the efforts of the Christian subjects of the Empire, who would
turn against Ottoman rule. As a result, in reprisal a number of churches and
their property were attacked and their treasures confiscated by the Turks. In
addition, the Orthodox Christian clergy and local Orthodox Christian
authorities were taking advantage of their return to many areas previously
under Latin jurisdiction and suppressed the local Catholic communities
(Foskolos, 1987: 294-5).
the same time many Western sovereigns, especially France, decided to intervene
in order to protect the Catholic communities in Greece.
They were able to sign a number of special agreements with the Ottomans, which
secured the free exercise of the Catholic faith in the Empire. These
agreements, signed in 1673 and 1740, gave the right to the French and other
Catholic priests and monks, irrespective of their national origin, to exercise
their religious duties without any restriction. In addition, French clerics
were not taxed (GHM/MRGG 2000: 28-9).
these agreements, France had
managed to acquire the status of protector of the Catholic Church within the Ottoman
Empire. Hence, while the Pope appointed the local
bishops, the French embassy in Istanbul
issued special certificates designing the jurisdiction of the new clergy upon a
certain province and its inhabitants. In this way the Catholic Church secured
its continual existence in Greece
(GHM/MRGG 2000: 28-9).
Reformation in the West affected the Catholic Church in Greece in
a positive way. The Catholic counter-Reformation gave much consideration to
issues of education and catechism, which used to be a problem for Catholics in Greece
because of the low level of education of the local clergy. Many Catholic
officials in Greece
attended the Synod of Tridente (1545-1563) that decided to re-organize the
ecclesiastical provinces, to appoint new bishops, to found schools, to foster
cooperation between the clergy and the monastic orders and to publish books.
Many of the Synod’s measures were implemented in the Greek bishoprics,
especially in the Cyclades. In
sent a number of “Apostolic Missions” and the Aegean bishoprics produced
special detailed reports, providing the Holy See with information on the
progress and following of the Catholic Church in the Cyclades
(Foskolos, 1987: 295).
spirit of the Synod reached the Greek Catholic communities only in the 18th
century. Around the same time, it became apparent that the islands were not big
enough to accommodate and feed their inhabitants. This realization led to
internal migration from the islands into the mainland. Catholics and Orthodox
Christians alike left the islands and sought better prospects in Istanbul, Smyrna (Izmir),
The Catholics founded a number of “brotherhoods” in order to help the parishes
and the villagers from their own place of origin, a practice similar to what
the Catholics of Athens do today. Many Catholic priests followed the immigrants
and helped strengthen the ties between the islanders and Asia
Minor (Foskolos, 1987: 354-5).
the same period the first “franko-chiotika” books appeared. These were Greek
language books written in the Latin alphabet and printed in Asia
Minor in order to help the “franko-levantines,” the
Europeans who had settled and worked in the East. Although there were no
European immigrants, there were a number of foreign priests and monks in the
Catholic communities of the Aegean.
They found the “franko-chiotika” books very helpful and began printing them
together with the books written in proper Greek that they had been using until
then (Foskolos, 1987: 354-5).
Movements for the unification of the Churches: The
pro-unionists were always a minority within the Byzantine
Empire. This brought about the failure of the Synod
of the two Churches in Florence in
1439. However, a number of prominent political, cultural and religious figures
were pro-unionists and some of them went to the West after the fall of Constantinople.
They brought with them their love for the Greek language and culture and
cultivated it under the auspices of the Catholic Church. Indeed, many Popes
favored the foundation of Greek printing houses and schools. While the
pro-unionists thought that these actions would help the cause of unification,
the Orthodox Church dismissed them as cheap proselytizing tactics designed to subordinate
the Eastern Church to the Pope (Foskolos, 1987: 239-40).
the 18th century when Greece was
under Ottoman rule, the remnants of the unionist movement gradually
disappeared. The present Greek Catholics of the Eastern Rite, the Uniats, are
the descendants of the refugees from the 1922 ‘Asia
Minor disaster’ of the Greek army. They are the followers
of a unification movement that was started in Istanbul at
the end of the 19th century.
Greek Catholics and the foundation of the
Modern Greek state: One of the major issues concerning the history
of the Greek Catholics --especially of the Catholics in the Cyclades-- is
related to their participation in the national liberation struggle of the 1821
Greek revolution. The majority of Greek historians note the Catholics’
skepticism, if not lack of desire (especially in the beginning) to participate
in the struggle. A number of important reasons led the Catholics to this
in 1821 was not as easy as it is today and the islanders were isolated and slow
to see the inevitability of the liberation struggle that was already sweeping
southern continental Greece. As
a result, they initially thought that this was a desperate local uprising,
doomed from the beginning like many other ones in the past. In addition, the
islanders lacked the training and the equipment that the liberation fighters
had in continental Greece due
to their previous participation in the gendarmerie or in organized bands. That
made the islanders afraid that they would not be able to withstand any Turkish
brief period of Russian rule over the islands (1771-1774) had left bad memories
to the Catholic population because their religious freedom had faced
persecution by the Orthodox Christian Russians. In addition, in the last
decades prior to the Revolution many Catholics lived in isolation on the
islands that had an Orthodox Christian majority unfriendly to them. That meant
that before joining the struggle, the Catholics of the islands sought
assurances from their Orthodox Christian compatriots that their religious
freedom would not be persecuted in a future free Greek state (GHM/MRGG 2000: 35-7).
particular, opted for neutrality since it was under French protection. As it
was pointed out later by one of the heroes of the Greek Revolution, Admiral
Andreas Miaoulis, this neutrality was in favor of the Greek cause. Until 1824,
the island paid duties not only to the Ottomans, as it was obliged to, but also
to the Greek fleet. In addition, it offered money and ships to the fleets of
the Hydra and Spetses islands and helped in their maintenance and support. In
the end, it proved to be a safe haven for the refugees who fled other Aegean
islands. Thousands of people sought refuge on the island and a lot of them settled
there and founded Ermoupolis, the present capital of Syros
(GHM/MRGG 2000: 31).
initial reaction of the Greek Catholics was to opt for neutrality, especially
since the European powers had expressed their willingness to protect them.
However, when the first Revolutionary Greek Government decided to forward to
them its assurances for future religious freedom and equality before the law,
Greek Catholics decided to enter the liberation struggle in a more active way
(Foskolos, 1987: 357). Many awards of gallantry offered by the independent
Greek state prove that the Catholics participated actively in the liberation
struggle. From the 2,500 inhabitants of Syros, 83
people were honored (GHM/MRGG 2000: 31). An objective interpretation of the
position of the Greek Catholics should take into account the social and
psychological conditions under which they lived in the beginning of the 19th
century and not underestimate their real and active participation later in the
freedom struggle (ibid. 32).
Relations between the Catholic Church and the
independent Greek state in the 19th century: The
foundation of the modern Greek state was followed by a number of international
treaties that normalized some aspects of international and national public law.
For the Catholic Church, the important treaty was the Third London Protocol (3/2/1830)
signed between Greece and
its protective powers Britain, France and
This Protocol, drafted by France,
refers to the Catholic community of the Cyclades.
to the Protocol, the Catholic population of the Cyclades was
free to exercise its religious practice freely and publicly. The property of
the Greek Catholic Church and the rights and privileges of the Catholic priests
were to remain intact, as they had been exercised during the years of the
French protection. The property of French missions and foundations was also
safeguarded under the Protocol. Finally, the Protocol proclaimed that all
citizens in the new state, irrespective of their religious preferences, were to
have an equal chance of being appointed to any public office and were to be
London Protocol was accepted by the Greek government and Senate and was
ratified by the Fifth National Assembly in Nafplion on 28 February 1832.
Another protocol signed in 1830 by the protective powers clarified that the
respect of the rights of the Catholics in the Cyclades
does not imply undermining the interests of the Orthodox worshipers. It made
clear that even though the London Protocol’s principles applied to the
followers of any religious faith, the protective powers’ special interest was
directed to the followers of the Christian churches.
should be noted, however, that the spirit of these protocols had already been
encompassed in the first Greek Constitutions adopted by the National Assembly
meetings during the Revolution. The principle that Orthodox Christianity is the
prevailing faith in Greece and
that all other Christian denominations should be free and equal before the law
has been enshrined in all Greek Constitutions since then.
1864, the 1830 Protocol was extended to include the Catholics of the Ionian
Islands (Eptanisa), which led to their unification
with Greece. A
substantial number of Catholics inhabited those islands, especially Corfu,
and arrangements for their freedom and protection were made along the lines of
the London Protocol.
Greek Catholic Church and the Holy See understood that the power of the London
Protocol had given them enough freedom to act according to their needs as long
as they observed Greek law. The Holy See thought that the Protocol gave it the
right to appoint the heads of the ecclesiastical provinces in Greece
without seeking prior acceptance from the state authorities. This practice
brought about a lot of hostility towards the Catholic Church of Greece. The
first reactions against the Church’s freedom were recorded during the 1864
National Assembly. The participants in the meeting strongly supported the view
that the members of the Catholic hierarchy in Greece
should be Greek nationals and that the King should officially endorse their
the last quarter of the 19th century, the Catholic Church was
presented with an important problem that is still in existence today. As a
result of new demographic realities having to do with internal migration, with
new land that was incorporated into the Greek state and with population
exchanges, the Catholic Church started reestablishing old and founding new
ecclesiastical provinces (Foskolos, 1987: 358). Due to internal opposition,
supported by the Orthodox Church, the Greek state refused to recognize these
new provinces as legal entities (i.e. the Archbishopric of Athens was
reestablished in 1875). Despite the fact that these ecclesiastical provinces
have functioned for more than a century, they did not have an official legal
status until recently (for a detailed look on the legal problems of the Greek
Catholic Church see Section 5 on the General Legal Status).
The creation of the Greek Catholic community of
the Eastern Rite: Catholic communities following the Eastern
rituals, the Byzantine among them, have existed since the Schism. In south Italy,
these rituals are followed by the Catholics of Albanian origin, in the Middle
East by the Melchites, in the Ukraine and
the Eastern Catholics or Greco-Catholics. In Greece,
this tradition ceased to exist in the 18th century.
origin of today’s Greek Uniates is a late 19th century movement that
was started in Istanbul and
Catholic priest from Syros,
father Yakinthos Maragos (1827-1885), was the founder of this movement. Two
former metropolitans were among the few Orthodox Christian followers from Istanbul who
converted to Catholicism. Despite the low number of conversions, Pope Pious X
decided that the Greek Uniats had enough followers and in June 1911, he founded
the Exarchate of the Greek Rites in Turkey.
The first head of the Exarchate was Bishop Isaias Papadopoulos. He was Greek by
origin and later became the chairman of the Eastern Catholic Church in the Holy
Synod of the Vatican
(Foskolos, 1987: 359-60).
was succeeded by Bishop Georgios Halavatzis who led his followers to Greece
after the 1922 ‘Asia Minor Disaster’ and the exchange of populations that
followed the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne (1923). A large number of the
Uniats from Istanbul
settled in Athens.
The agrarian followers settled in the northern town of Yiannitsa
where they founded the parish of Petros and Pavlos. The followers that stayed
soon disbanded in the face of persecutions.
Greek Uniat community has never witnessed a substantial rise in its following.
In recent years, the number of devotees, clergy and members of monastic orders
has been in a constant decline. The few clerics and devotees that remain are
descendants of the Uniats who settled after the Exchange of Populations. In
fact, some scholars claim that this contradicts the accusations expressed by
some that the Uniats are converted Orthodox Christians (GHM/MRGG 2000: 38).
The Greek Catholic Church during the Second
World War: The Greek Catholic Church and especially the Greek
Catholic Exarchate organized a substantial food program during the German
occupation of Greece.
Through the “Houses of Divine Care” founded in 1941 by the Exarchate and the
“National Organization of Christian Solidarity” founded by the Archbishopric of
Athens, in coordination with the Red Cross, the Catholic community managed to
provide enough food supplies. This program helped the population of Athens to
overcome the famine of the winter of 1942. The “Houses of Divine Care” provided
food and health care to some 30,000 people daily. At the time, the Holy See
representative to Greece was
Josef Ronkalli who later became Pope John XXIII. He provided help in the food
programs and in 1942 set up an “Information Office” that carried messages
through the Holy See to many Greek prisoners or escapees abroad from their
relatives in Greece.
Catholics of Greece also played a significant role during the National
Resistance against the Nazis. Just like in 1821 and in the First World War, the
Catholics of Greece participated in the national struggle against the Nazis.
Even though the numerous monuments in the villages of Syros and
Tinos acknowledge this
participation, some representatives of the Orthodox Church have disputed the
Catholics’ participation in the national struggle. In accordance with their
opposition to anything Catholic, such people have tried to defame the Greek
Catholic community by implying that their role during the war was not patriotic
(see Section 2.3.2).
number of Catholics were actively involved in the Resistance and helped the
patriotic cause with their actions. One of the prominent Catholic figures of
the Resistance was Antonis Mytilinaios who was the leader of a sabotage group
that blew up the building of the Greek Fascist organization ESPO that
collaborated with the Nazis in Athens.
Uniate priest Chrisostomos Vasileiou was executed with 72 other patriots on 8 September 1944 for
refusing to give away information about the activities of other Resistance
members. Before his capture he had helped many Athenian Jews to escape from the
Nazis by hiding them in friendly houses.
Bishop of Syros Antonios Voutsinos was persecuted by the Nazis and was
transferred to a maximum-security penal prison. During the Occupation, the
Nazis had harassed him continuously because he refused to censor his sermons.
He was arrested because he provided shelter to Italian soldiers after Italy’s
Italians exiled the Bishop of Santorini Timotheos Remoundos because he was
asking his devotees to refrain from socializing with the occupiers.
Archbishop of Athens Ioannis Filipoussis and the head of the Greek Exarchate
Georgios Halavatzis organized many food programs and were involved in
diplomatic efforts seeking to save Athens
Capari, a Uniate church member, saved many prisoners from the death squad. Many
monastic orders provided shelter and saved many Jews (Levantis 1998: 41-2).
Other 20th century developments:
After the end of the Second World War, the Catholic population of Greece
diminished considerably. The 3,000 strong Armenian Exarchate is now down to 500
due to immigration. The Italians of Rhodes, Corfu and
Patras began to leave even before the end of the war. In Eptanisa, the 7,100
Catholics of 1938 were reduced to only 3,800 in 1951. The Dodecanese,
where Rhodes is, became part of Greece
after the war. The 7,500 Catholics of the region were down to 450. There is no
specific data on the Catholic population in Patras, but it is known that today
their number is small. The Catholics that remained in Greece
after the war were those that felt very strongly about their Greek origin and
the islands of Syros and
Tinos, many Catholics died
because of the famine. After the war, many Catholics migrated to Athens.
That is why the pre-war 20,000 Catholics in Athens
--many of whom foreigners-- reached the number of 30,000.
witnessed another exodus of Catholics after the war. Many members of the
island’s Maltese Catholic community went to Cardiff in Wales.
The number of Catholics in Corfu was
diminished from 3,800 before the war to 2,700 today.
influx of many Catholics in Athens led
to the rise of Catholic organizations in the capital. In the 1950s and 1960s,
the activity of the Union of Catholics of Athens was particularly important.
The Union developed good relations
with prominent politicians who helped in the establishment of good relations
between the Greek government and the Catholic Church. Some members of the Greek
government visited the Vatican and
Catholic priests were exempted from compulsory military service, while Catholic
parishes were allowed to perform litanies out in the public.
of the Union of the Catholic Youth of
Greece began to organize themselves on a parish basis. In the last two decades
of the 20th century, the Union of Youth began to organize
conferences and festivals in Athens, Tinos and
Syros and became widely known in Greece,
while forging good relations with similar organizations abroad.
“Academic Student Hall” was founded in 1935. After the war, it was transformed
into a vibrant organization of Catholic students and scientists. It is now
called the “Union of
the Catholic Students in Greece”
and is very well known for its work even outside the Catholic community.
Prominent academics, politicians from all parties, intellectuals and clerics
are regular speakers at the weekly meetings of the organization. In 1983 a separate
“Union of the Catholic Scientists”
was established due to the growing number of educated members of the Catholic
significant development since 1968 was the permission given by the Holy See to
Greek Catholics to celebrate Easter at the same time with their Orthodox
Christian brothers. For years, the Greek Catholics had been asking for this
permission since Easter --which usually falls on different dates for Catholics
and for Orthodox Christians-- is the most prominent celebration for the
Orthodox Greeks, greater in importance than Christmas. As a consequence, Greek
Catholics did not want to differentiate themselves from the rest of the Greek
society for whom the Easter celebrations are an occasion for great festivities.
The Holy See acknowledged the importance of this national celebration and
granted the permission (GHM/MRGG 2000: 42-3).
1.2. Economic and demographic data
has been one of the major factors that have affected the number of Catholics in
it was described in the previous section, many Greek Catholics from the islands
went to Athens
after the war. Opportunities and land were scarce in the Cyclades and
a better future was sought in the capital. The majority of these internal
immigrants were occupied in the construction business that was booming in the
1950s and 1960s (Levantis 2000). From the 1970s onwards, their children were
able to pursue higher education and many Catholic university graduates work in Athens
today. Some of them work in the Catholic schools that a number of monastic
orders have founded in Athens and
elsewhere (Gasparakis 2000). The available positions are few, however, and
cannot accommodate the approximately 100 qualified teachers that graduate each
year (Levantis 2000). Few of those graduates choose to be ordained as priests.
majority of the Catholic immigrants from abroad take jobs that Greeks would not
like for themselves. The 30,000 Filipinos work mainly as house servants and
cleaning ladies. The majority of them are women with families back home whose
stay in Greece is
short (ibid.). There are, however, those who marry Greek citizens and start
their families in the country. The 50,000 Poles make up the largest group of
Catholic immigrants in Greece.
Many of them work in the construction business. The imminent entry of Poland
into the European Union has prompted many of the Polish immigrants in Greece to
consider the possibility of making Greece
their permanent home since they will immediately acquire all rights that
European citizens share (ibid.). Their desire to remain in Greece has
been exhibited in the opening up of nursery and primary schools where pupils
are taught in Polish and Greek.
foreign immigrant communities include Ukrainians, Iraqi refugees, and Africans
from different countries. It is not known how they see their future in Greece.
Finally, a large number of Catholic women live in Greece as
the wives of Greek students, workers and sailors.
Defense of identity and/or of language and/or of religion
The official relationship between the Orthodox
Church and the Greek state, as defined by Article 3 of the Constitution, has
led to many forms of legal and administrative discrimination due to a voluntary
misinterpretation of several Civil Code laws that defend this relationship.
Frequently, the Catholic Church challenges these violations in the Greek
courts, which usually decide in the Catholic Church’s favor. Some cases have
been tried and won by the Catholic Church in the European Court of Human Rights
(see section 5.2 Present Legal Status). The process towards the abolishment or
change of some discriminatory laws is slow and dependent on the willingness of
the Greek political leadership (Levantis 2000). In a number of instances, the
Catholic Church has tried to influence the outcome of certain discussions
through official memorandums to the Greek Parliament issued by the Holy Synod
of the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church has tried to defend itself
against false and libelous accusations espoused by some Orthodox Christian
clerics, politicians and journalists who adhere to the nationalist ideology of
the “Greek-Orthodox Christian Civilization.” Almost exclusively Greek Catholic
priests have carried out this defense, although a number of politicians, mainly
from the left, journalists and NGOs have also supported their cause (see
details in Section 2.3.2. on Relations with the Dominant/Ethnic Group in
There is not any specific organization founded
by the Catholic community in order to defend it against accusations and
discrimination. The Press Office of the Holy Synod and the priests themselves
usually deal with such cases and legal experts take over whenever a case
reaches the courts (Gasparakis 2000). Catholic organizations such as the “Union of the Catholics of Greece,” the “Union of the Catholic Students,” the “Union of the Catholic Scientists” and others have a
predominantly social orientation. However, they have intervened with defensive
statements and the organization of discussions whenever they felt that the
occasional offense required wider mobilization and response. A serious
impediment against the establishment of an organization that would provide the
necessary conditions required for a more sufficient pursuit of religious and
civil rights is the lack of adequate financial resources (Levantis 2000).
2. ETHNIC OR NATIONAL IDENTITY
Catholics have always declared that they have a sound Greek national conscience.
Efforts to dispute this have been made by extreme nationalists, who equate the
Orthodox Church with the Greek national conscience. The Catholics have always
responded to such accusations swiftly reminding others of their participation
and suffering during the wars of the nation. They dismiss any allegations that
they are utterly dependent on the Vatican and
support its ‘schemes’ to confront Greece and
the Orthodox Christian religion.
2.1.1. Cultural characteristic(s)
differentiating it from the dominant group
Catholics are differentiated from the Orthodox Christians only in respect to
their Latin tradition. Both communities share the Christian faith and this
helps the communication between them. The Latin tradition, however, has given
the Catholic community a more pro-European and cosmopolitan orientation, a view
that is not shared by many Orthodox Christian Greeks, especially by the
Orthodox Christian clergy. They prefer to follow what is considered a
conservative interpretation of the Orthodox Christian religion with its
ecumenical perspective directed towards the Orient. (Levantis 2000)
2.1.2. Development of the minority’s awareness of
2.1.3. Identifying this
difference as ethnic or national
development of an ethnic or a national identity
2.2.1. The minority’s resistance
to or acceptance of assimilation
2.2.2. The minority’s resistance
to or acceptance of integration
2.2.3. Awareness of having an
ethnic or a national identity
2.2.4. Level of homogeneity in
the minority’s identity
political and social conditions
2.3.1. Relations with the state
paragraph 1, of the Constitution states that the “prevailing” religion in Greece is that of the
Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ. The legal meaning of the term “prevailing”
is that the Orthodox faith is the official religion of Greece. This status is
particularly evident in the preamble to the Constitution, the religious oath
taken by the President of the Republic and members of Parliament and the inviolability
of the Holy Scriptures.
The preamble to
the Constitution begins with the following invocatory religious declaration: “In the name of the Holy and Consubstantial
and Indivisible Trinity.” Article 33, paragraph 2, of the Constitution
provides that, before taking up his duties, the President of the Greek Republic must take the
following oath before Parliament: “I do
swear in the name of the Holy and Consubstantial and Indivisible Trinity to
uphold the Constitution and the laws.” Article 59, paragraph 1, of the
Constitution requires that members of Parliament, before taking up their
duties, must take an oath, at a public meeting in the Parliament Chamber, to
the Holy and Consubstantial and Indivisible Trinity. Heterodox members of
Parliament who adhere to a different religion take the same oath, adapted to
their own dogma or religion. Article 3, paragraph 3, of the Constitution
provides that the text of the Holy Scriptures is inalterable. The official
translation of the text into another form, without prior approval of the
Autocephalous Church of Greece and the Great Church of Christ in Constantinople, is prohibited.
The UN Special
Rapporteur in his 1996 report noted that, although a State religion does not in
itself run counter to any international instruments, it might ultimately do so
to the extent that it justified or introduced discrimination against other
religions (Abdulfattah Amor, 1996; GHM/MRGG 1999a). The strict interpretation
of these Constitutional Articles by local religious and sometimes state
authorities according to whom the interest of the Orthodox Church supersedes
the interests of other religious communities has, indeed, led to discriminatory
practices against religious minorities in Greece. (GHM/MRGG
According to professor Adamantia Pollis: “State-established religions do
not necessarily deny or restrict freedom to other religions. In Greece, however, the maintenance of an established
Church has had deleterious consequences leading to the suppression of other
religions. The very existence of a Ministry of Education and Religon testifies
both to the intermeshing of the state and the Church and to religion as a
crucially important ingredient of education. Furthermore, this ministry affirms
the state’s responsibility to socialize the young into religious faith and
hence to preserve and promote Greek Orthodoxy.” (1992: 180)
The Catholic Church of Greece is officially
recognized through a number of international treaties and conventions signed by
Greece. The Greek Constitution also guarantees
religious freedom. However, a number of ecclesiastical provinces were not
officially recognized by the state as legal entities. This created problems to
the Catholic bishops of those provinces because they were not able to
communicate with the state authorities in their normal capacity as bishops. It
also created a number of other problems related to the civil performance of
these provinces (see details on this and other issues concerning the state’s
relations with the Catholic community in 5.2 Present Legal Status).
2.3.2. Relations with the dominant
ethnic/national group in society
between Orthodox and Catholic Christians in Greece are
generally good. This is certainly the case on the islands where the two
communities have lived side by side for centuries. The numerous mixed
marriages, especially in Athens,
show that the two communities look at each other with sympathy.
a section of the Greek society views the Catholic community with profound
animosity. Their view, as it will be explained below, has wider social and
political ramifications that have to do with the national ideology, the
orientation of Greece
within Europe, and the future of the
country in general. These views and the response of the Catholic community will
be presented here because of their wider political implications.
The opposition of the Orthodox Church to the
legal recognition of the Catholic Archbishopric of Athens: In 1983, the issue of the
legal recognition of the Catholic Archbishopric of Athens was intensely
discussed. The previous Archbishop of Athens and Greece Serafeim (died 1998)
had stated that “the Orthodox Church
of Greece that is recognized by the Constitution as the prevailing [religion],
has had the sad experience of dealing with a Uniate bishop in the past and it
is not willing to accept the recognition of a Catholic archbishop in Athens. It
is a fact that successive Greek governments since 1875 have ignored the
foundation of the Catholic Archbishopric of Athens. The recognition of the new
ecclesiastical provinces of the Catholic Church would allow the uncontrolled
activity of the latter among the Orthodox population. This is a danger that the
Greek governments have tried to avoid by not recognizing the Catholic
Archbishopric of Athens. These efforts for recognition of the Catholic
Archbishopric, masterminded by the diplomatic representative of the Vatican, constitute a danger against the Greek Orthodox
Church. The Orthodox Church is ready to rouse its following in order to tackle
by all means the carefully drawn aims of the Catholics against Orthodoxy, which
is the basis of the Greek nation. From now on we are prepared to cut off our
relations with the Catholic Church” (GHM/MRGG 2000: 37).
Defamation of the Greek Catholics’ in the 1990s:
In the last decade of the 20th century, the Greek Catholic
community was attacked in the media by a large segment of the Greek Orthodox
Christian majority. The cause for these attacks was the supposed intervention
of the Vatican in
favor of the dismemberment of Yugoslavia.
to the prevailing national mythology, the Serbs are the Greeks’ kith and kin
because they have also suffered under the Ottoman rule, because they are also
Orthodox Christians, and have always sided with Greece.
Therefore, the Greeks ought to intervene in their favor whenever they suffer
“unjust” attacks from the West. The “West” also contains the Vatican
whose “participation” in Croatia’s
strife for independence was strongly condemned. The supporters of the Orthodox
Christian nationalist “purity” believed that the West favored the Catholic
population of the former Yugoslavia and
that this was a part of a widespread conspiracy that sought to deprive the
Orthodox Christian population of the Balkans of its cultural identity and
politicians, journalists, academics and the majority of the Orthodox Christian
clergy have rallied around this ideology at different times. They have started
a “struggle” of defending Greece’s
national and religious ideology against the West (Europe and
and their economic (globalization), cultural (Hollywood,
MTV), political (the European Union, NATO), and religious (Catholicism,
Judaism, Islam) “weapons.” In this context, verbal and printed “counterattacks”
have been masterminded promulgating a spirit of intolerance towards the “other”
among the Greek population. The role of the Orthodox Christian clergy in this
“struggle of defense” is paramount and its representatives have many times
intervened with speeches and articles. (GHM/MRGG
Defamation of the Greek Catholics regarding
their role in the Second World War: Orthodox Christian clerical
representatives of national and religious “purity” have accused the Greek
Catholic community for treacherous behavior during the Second World War. They
have presented the Greek Catholics as non-Greeks in an effort to encourage the
belief that the Greek Catholic were, are and will be “agents” of foreign
powers. Two prominent members of the Orthodox Church have published such
attacks on the Greek Catholic community.
the Archbishop of Athens and
Greece Christodoulos attacked the Greek Catholic community with an article he
wrote in the newspaper Thessalia (21/2/1993) when he was still the Metropolitan of
Demetrias. He wrote, “the Catholics of
the Cyclades were celebrating and praying on 28 October 1940 when Catholic Italy declared war against Greece.” This accusation provoked
an intense reaction by the Catholics of these islands, who were still alive and
remembered that they had, in fact, reacted differently. Christodoulos later
withdrew these remarks (Katholiki 27/7/93) but maintained that they were based on
memories of Orthodox Christian Greeks living in the Cyclades at
another higher cleric, Archimandrite Hortatos, wrote in the newspaper To
that during the war, the Greek Catholics shared Mussolini’s ideology. To these
remarks an Orthodox Christian doctor of philosophy, Evangellos Roussos, from Syros
replied by reminding Mr. Hortatos that the Catholic Bishop of Syros was
imprisoned during the Nazi and Fascist Occupation. He also recalled the actions
of the Catholic journalist Pios Stefanos who had uncovered the Italian plans
before the war and presented the plans to the Catholics of the Cyclades.
Then, the Italians closed down his newspaper during occupation as it refused to
accept the Italians’ censorship. (GHM/MRGG 2000 42-43)
The dismemberment of Yugoslavia and the anti-Catholic climate: The
break-up of Yugoslavia and
the ethno-nationalist tendencies resurgent in many former communist countries
had a profound effect on the way the Catholic Church and the respective
community in Greece
were viewed. Journalists, politicians, and priests renowned for their
vociferous defense of ‘the pure Greek religious and national identity’ began a
defamatory war that gradually gained the sympathetic ear of the Greek public.
In particular, the traditional “anti-Catholic syndrome” that characterizes some
conservative and older segments of Greek society found opportunities to
“syndrome” is quite old and stems from the Schism and the fall of Constantinople.
Some say that legends and historical facts alike confirm that the Orthodox
Church preferred to surrender to the Ottoman Turks rather than to the Catholic
West and the Pope who “suspiciously” had offered to help the Byzantines to
tackle the Muslim danger. Greeks, who believe in the evilness of the Catholic
Church, think that even today the Catholic West continues to seek the submission
of the Orthodox Christian faithful under the Vatican
rule. They see Europe’s
stance towards the Orthodox Christian Serbs as proof of that. Reports that the Vatican,
through its Uniate Church, is trying to spread around Eastern
Europe and exploit the massive return of the Slavic
peoples back to religion after decades of communist rule are seen as another
proof of that. Finally, the theory of the “Islamic Bow” (i.e. the Muslims in
Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey) that some conveniently devised, stated
that the Vatican “helped its construction” in order to cut off Greece from its
Orthodox Christian neighbors with the “apparent aim of curving it up” became
very popular for a brief period. The ‘proof’ for the creation of the “Islamic
Bow” was seen in Bosnia’s
“religious” war, where the Muslim-Catholic “alliance became apparent.”
Pope John Paul, unknowingly, became the reason
for renewed attacks against the Catholic Church. In his 1991 Christmas message,
he included wishes towards the people of the Republic of Macedonia. It is known that the use of the taboo word “Macedonia” in reference to Greece’s northwestern neighbor was, and still is,
perceived to be an adequate casus belli
for the Greek press and a large segment of society. These papal wishes marked
the starting point of profound anti-Catholic hysteria that has not completely
disappeared today. (GHM/MRGG 2000: 46-7)
1992: On New Year’s Day the
attack began with the televised message of the late Archbishop of Athens
Serafeim. He stated, “the Pope is
playing a very strange role. I don’t want to say more but his role is
suspicious.” The government
officially complained to the Holy See, as did the Holy Synod of the Catholic
Church in Greece.
The Holy See replied that the Christmas wishes were only expressed “as a pastoral statement and did not express
any other state or political implications.” The Vatican
realized that the Greek Catholic Church was in a difficult situation and
postponed the official recognition of Macedonia
until 1995. In addition, the usual Christmas and Easter wishes in Macedonian
are not referred to as being expressed in that language.
all this, the Orthodox Church continued its anti-Catholic attack. Archbishop
Serafeim asked for the suspension of diplomatic relations between Greece and
that had been established only twelve years ago on 5 February 1992.
The government and the majority of the Greek press dismissed this idea, even
though the Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time and later the founder of a
splinter nationalist right-wing party, Mr. Antonis Samaras, showed that he did
not agree with the government’s decision (To Vima 24/5/92).
March 1992, participants in an international Orthodox Christian meeting in Istanbul
fiercely criticized the Holy See, but a motion to suspend the dialogue between
the two Churches did not pass.
center-left daily newspaper Eleftherotypia was one of the few to resist
this anti-Catholic attack. A journalist of the paper published a Papal
statement that “Macedonia is the home of Philip and Alexander, Cyril and
Methodius. Macedonia is Greek” (21 June 1992).
The same issue had an interview with Father Duprey, Secretary of the Pontifical
Council, in which he emphasized the Vatican’s
interest in the unity of the Christian world. Two months later Eleftherotypia
published a report on the good relations between the two religious communities
of Syros. These publications were
welcomed by the Greek Catholic community, which began to find allies within Greece.
the same time another center-left daily, Ethnos, launched a fierce
anti-Catholic campaign. On 26
September 1992 its manager at the time, Hristos Theoharatos,
published a very anti-Catholic article. It referred to the efforts to reunite
the Archbishopric of Ohrid with that of Thessaloniki, as
a means to further the influence of the Church over the Catholics from Albania, Macedonia and
Greek Macedonia. This assumption was founded on the fact that Archbishop
Antonios Varthalitis from Corfu
(near Ohrid) replaced the aged Monsignor Demetrios Roussos according to the
Catholic tradition. The small number of Catholic followers in Thessaloniki,
however, was not sufficient for the appointment of a special head for that
province, hence it was decided that the Archbishop of Corfu would also care for
the Catholics of the Apostolic Vicariate of Thessaloniki. This move was viewed
with suspicion bythe newspaper Ethnos that “uncovered” the supposed
plans for the cross-frontier establishment of an archbishopric, which would
mobilize the Catholic followers and exploit the feelings of the Catholics for
occasions for anti-Catholic attacks in the press were related to the new issue
of the Catholic Catechism, Galileo’s rehabilitation and the issue of the
compulsory reference to religious belief on personal identity cards (for the
latter see below). These attacks prompted the journalist Thanasis
Papandropoulos to write in the magazine Economicos Tahydromos that “a belief that Greece is different from the rest of Europe and that Hellenism constitutes a particular cultural case that should
be left unspoiled from the Western European miasma and the Vatican is growing. The latter, after the CIA, is hiding
behind any Universal or European event and draws all the conspiracies that mingle
against Greece” (7/1/93).
(GHM/MRGG 2000: 46-48)
1993: The accusations against the
Catholic Church for its supposed role in unrest in the Balkans continued in
1993. The theory of the “Orthodox Christian Bow” (i.e. Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, and
a bulwark against Catholic expansionism was also gaining ground. The Catholic
Church of Greece refrained from replying to any accusations that were expressed
in the press and kept a low profile in order to avoid more serious attacks.
one occasion, however, it replied to the conservative MP from Patras Spilios
Spiliotopoulos. In his capacity as Undersecretary of Defense, Mr.
Spiliotopoulos implied that the Vatican Bank finances the purchase of weapons
by the Bosnians (Apogevmatini 10/5/93). He had made the same allegation for the
first time at a Western European Union meeting in December 1992. The Catholic
Church reacted by asking him to produce the evidence that corroborated his
remarks. Mr. Spiliotopoulos’ allegations led to unrest in Patras where his
supporters sprayed the Catholic temple with abusive graffiti.
MP’s reply showed his complete ignorance of how the Catholic Church works since
he sent his letter to the Ambassador of the Holy See in Athens and
not to the Catholic Archbishop who had asked for an explanation. In his reply,
he stated that he did not want to offend the Pope and that his remarks based on
Serb sources were distorted by the newspaper. The only good outcome of this
dispute was that Mr. Spiliotopoulos had the opportunity of meeting members of
the Catholic community of Greece.
Few months later, he spoke to a meeting of the Union of
the Catholic Students, who had strongly condemned his remarks. He explained
again that his words had been misunderstood, thus establishing better ties with
the Catholic community. (GHM/MRGG 2000: 49-50)
The national intelligence service report on the
non-Orthodox Christian Greeks: One major issue that
emerged in 1993 was the uncovering of a top-secret report of the Greek National
Intelligence Service (EYP) by the Eleftherotypia in August. The report
bore the title “Contemporary Heresies and Para-Religious Organizations in Greece”
and had been written in the beginning of 1993.
the report, all non-Orthodox Christian citizens were referred to as “non-genuine” Greeks. These “non-genuine”
Greeks, according to the report, were of “unsound
national conscience that put national security at risk because they take orders
from abroad.” In order to tackle this risk, the report proposed a number of
“precautionary and restraining” measures like the following: religious purging
of the media, strengthening of the laws against proselytism, expulsion of
foreigners who are active in non-Orthodox Church organizations even if they are
European Union citizens, etc.
uncovering of this report caused enormous havoc. All political parties
condemned the report. Even EYP condemned the report characterizing it as
“unrealistic,” since it contained “completely wrong” information. The first
results of this revelation were the heavy losses that the conservative New
Democracy party suffered in the 1993 parliamentary election in Syros and
Tinos. However, despite the
socialist take-over of the government and the initial announcement that the
report’s writer had been transferred, he appeared as the central speaker in the
28 October celebration (the anniversary of Greece’s
entry in Second World War) at EYP.
truth about the report seems to be that it reflected a widespread belief that
exists in the nationalistic segments of Greek society. It is accepted that a
large number of public order, military and secret service officials share these
beliefs. Hence, allegations that religious minorities are being mistreated by
these agencies remind people the measures proposed in the EYP report. (GHM/MRGG
1994: Since 1993, the
anti-Catholic hysteria has subsided. This does not mean, however, that the
impression the nationalist circles have about the Catholic Church has changed.
Even the wife of the late Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou has joined the
attacks. Ms. Dimitra Liani in an article published in Ta Nea wrote, “only naïve people, maybe, cannot see the
implementation of a religious imperialism in the Balkans, a peculiar religious
imperialism that contains the momentary co-habitation of two completely
different religions, Islam and Catholicism” (14/5/94).
instance was a clause included in the 3rd Party Congress (April
1994) resolutions of the New Democracy party. This clause stated that only
Orthodox Christian Greeks could become members of the party. This decision was
later revoked as wrong after a wave of articles criticizing the statement and
the official complaint of two party branches: the one in Ano Syros that has
only Catholic members and the other in Katerini Macedonia,
with a considerable number of Evangelists.
the same month, the cries for the defense of pure “Greekness” against western
cultural and political imperialism were put in practice by a group of “unknown”
defenders who destroyed the statue of Saint Francisco in the eponymous square
Such attacks on religious monuments have been carried out not only by “unknown”
perpetrators, but also by well-known members of the neo-Nazi organization Chrysi
Avghi (Golden Dawn) who leave their signature most of the times. The
majority of the Greek press condemned the Saint Francisco attack. Almost two
years later, on 6
February 1996, somebody beheaded the statue of Christ inside
the yard of the Catholic Archbishopric.
the meantime, the Greek media found another opportunity to stigmatize the
“unholy” alliance between Catholicism and Islam. The International Development
and Population Conference in Cairo
gave it that opportunity in September 1994. The joint position of Islamic and
Catholic delegates against birth control was the actual “proof” of the
months later, the Greeks discovered that on some occasions the Orthodox Church
and the Catholic Church have joint interests as well. This was shown in Albania
where it was believed that the two Churches shared a common interest against
the Muslim majority. The Catholic Church supported the appointment of a Greek
as the Archbishop of Albania and the Greek Foreign Affairs Minister visited the
Pope and discussed issues of religious freedom in Albania.
manifestations of anti-Catholic ideology were the remarks made in court by the
public prosecutor of Naxos,
Georgios Talamagas in December 1994. The Press Office of the Catholic Church
condemned his contemptuous remarks against the Greek Catholics. The Prosecutor
was soon moved to another district and the incident was closed. (GHM/MRGG 2000:
1995: In 1995 the Catholic
Archbishop of Athens
denounced the defamation campaign against his Church. In his Lent pastoral
service, he complained that this campaign “aims at exciting religious fanaticism… that subjects many Catholic
children in public schools to a bombardment of anti-Catholic slogans by their
classmates and by some teachers… while some young men and women are subject to
discrimination at the workplace or in their efforts to get a job because of
their religious beliefs” (12/3/96).
daily opted to “defend” the Greek Orthodox Christian “prestige” against the
above remarks of the Catholic Archbishop of Athens.
The “counter-attack” began with an article by Mr. Grigoris Kalokairinos against
Archbishop Nikolaos Foskolos (19/3/95).
In his article, the journalist reproduced the EYP report’s statement that “a Greek is not a real Greek if he is not Orthodox
Christian.” He accused the
Archbishop of lying, and characterized him as “the greatest contemporary example of a Greek that willingly compromised
his land.” He also accused the Archbishop of taking orders from the Vatican
similar to the Muslims of Thrace who “take their orders” from Ankara.
The newspaper refused to publish the Archbishopric’s reply and continued the
attack with other anti-Catholic articles written by Mr. Kalokairinos and the
paper’s manager Mr. Antonis Karkayiannis. In response, on 29 March 1995,
the Catholic Archbishop gave the first in history press conference and
condemned the anti-Catholic fervor in the country, while acknowledging the
problems facing the Greek Catholic Church.
did not stop the attacks, which this time appeared in the newspaper “To Vima.”
The Easter edition of the paper included an article written by Dimitirs
Nikolakopoulos according to which a “religious war” was being waged in Syros
where “hatred is cultivated in the
heart of the Aegean” (23/4/95). This article instigated many negative
comments in Syros. A
number of protest letters, noting the good relations between the two religious
communities, were sent to the paper. The same edition of the paper also
published a letter by the Metropolitan of Nea Smyrni in Athens
that was a reply to a letter sent by the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM). In its
letter that To Vima had refused to publish, GHM complained of the
Metropolitan’s refusal to concede to the Catholics a Latin chapel in the former
NATO base of Ellinikon in Athens.
Following the Metropolitan’s publication, GHM replied with another letter that
the newspaper refused to publish.
In this context, the reaction of the Patriarch
of the Orthodox Church and his representatives is very important. The
Patriarch’s seat is in Istanbul and he is a member of a very small minority. He reacts in a completely
different manner to any attacks of bigotry and intolerance. When Patriarch
Vartholomaios visited Crete on 12 November 1995, he met with the president of the Union of the Catholics of Crete in a very friendly
manner. (GHM/MRGG 2000: 51-54)
1996: The recurrent public
hostility towards the Catholic community and other religious minorities was
brought to the attention of the international community. In his report to the
UN, Special Rapporteur Abdelfattah Amor (1996) mentioned hostile acts against
the Catholic minority, which have rarely led even to a verbal condemnation by
the state: “Posters are occasionally
put up on the facades of Catholic churches by extremist Orthodox Christian
organizations. These posters include such forms of wording as: ‘Zionism,
Papism, Turkey, Free Masonry make war on martyred Serbia. Greece alone offers resistance and sympathizes
with the struggling Serbs;’ ‘Communism is vanishing in the Orthodox States, in
eastern Europe, the Vampire of Rome (the Pope) is preparing to gorge himself.’
Religious objects are sometimes the targets of vandalism. For example, the
statue of Christ in the courtyard of the Cathedral of St. Denis in Athens was decapitated in February 1996”
1997: In 1996, relations between
the Catholic community and the dominant religious group were calm. This
situation continued until June 1997 when the organizers of the Thessaloniki
festivities dedicated to the Holy Mount Athos showed how contemptuous they were
of the Catholic community by not inviting any representatives of the Catholic
Greek President Konstantinos Stefanopoulos, however, set a positive precedent
in the relations between the state and the Catholic community. For the first
time in history, the President received the Holy Synod of the Catholic Church
in November 1997. During the meeting, the Catholic officials referred to the
legal problems facing the Greek Catholic Church and the heavy taxation that the
Ministry of Finance imposed on it.
of that, the presidential example was not enough to change discriminatory
attitudes. The Divinity School of Thessaloniki refused a young Catholic woman
from Syros registration in December
1997. The excuse given was that she could not attend classes because she is
Catholic. After press reports on the issue and the intervention of the
Progressive Left Coalition MP Petros Kounalakis, the student was finally
admitted to the faculty because the refusal was unconstitutional
(discrimination against people on the basis of their religious beliefs).
(GHM/MRGG 2000: 53-4)
1998: The most important event in
1998 was the Orthodox Church’s refusal to invite the Catholic Archbishop of Athens to
the funeral of the late Orthodox Archbishop Serafeim.
strain in the relations between the Orthodox Christian Metroploitan of Chania
and the local Catholic community was the charitable activity of Mother
Theresa’s sisters. The Metropolitan accused them of proselytism (see section
4.1.2 Religious Freedom Enjoyed).
1999: The main issue between the
Catholic community and the dominant religious group in 1999 had to do with the
Pope’s wish to visit Greece
during his tour of the Holy Lands. From the moment he declared this wish, and
despite the positive reply of the Greek government, the Orthodox Church and the
followers of the idea of Greek Orthodox Christian ‘purity’ mounted a serious
attempt to thwart it.
Holy Synod’s representative, Theoklitos Koumarianos openly expressed his
dislike of Pope John Paul: “In regard
to this visit, there are problems and the Church of Greece
cannot accept the Pope as a representative of a Christian Church” (Eleftherotypia,
The official position of the Orthodox Church demanded an apology from the Pope
for the atrocities that the Crusaders carried out when they conquered Constantinople in
1204. When the apology was finally given during the Pope’s recent visit to the Holy
Land, the Orthodox Christian authorities in Greece
welcomed it. However, the impediments they had put forward until then led to
the cancellation of the visit.
Archbishop of Athens Nikolaos Foskolos condemned this act that barred the Greek
Catholics from receiving their spiritual leader in their homeland. He also
criticized the anti-Catholic climate in Greece and
the continuing prevalence of the mentality of the Middle Ages that gives the
Orthodox Church the opportunity to assume a secular and political role. As a
proof of this mentality, Archbishop Foskolos referred to the discrimination
against Catholics in the Greek army, who are denied the opportunity to serve as
officers because they are not Orthodox Christians. In his comments, published
in the Eleftherotypia daily, Archbishop Foskolos said, “Since 1989, a general anti-Catholic and a
particular anti-Pope spirit have been growing stronger in Greece. Do not forget the statements of a few years ago
by a Minister and by Orthodox bishops that the Pope is a war criminal. These
were official statements that were never disclaimed by any government official
or Church authorities… There is certainly oppression of the Catholics in Greece. Here the medieval principle of cujus regio
ejius religio (i.e. whoever owns the country also owns the religion) still
applies. For many people, being Greek means being Orthodox. It is taken as
strange if someone is Greek without being Orthodox. Both the state and the
Orthodox Church nourish such mentality. When a Catholic goes to register his
child in the municipal registry, usually the employee writes Christian Orthodox
without even asking. If he is told ‘but I am a Catholic’ he answers ‘what do
you mean? We will write Christian Orthodox.’ We usually have to insist …” (31/8/99)
1999, the leaders of two minority Christian churches confirmed the general
negative climate against minority religions in Greece. “Legally, religious freedom is secure here,”
Antonis Koulouris, Secretary-General of the Greek Evangelical (Reformed)
Church, told ENI. He added, “However,
the attitude persists that citizens have a duty to be Orthodox Christian, and
that belonging to other denominations is unpatriotic and heretical”.
Furthermore, the Catholic Archbishop of Athens,
Nikolaos Foscolos, told ENI that his Church had no “official contacts” with Orthodoxy, even though its members maintained
the same national traditions and had contributed significantly to neo-Hellenic
culture”. Among areas of
“practical discrimination”, the Archbishop listed Greece’s
armed forces, where being Orthodox was the “first requirement” for officers. “Orthodox Christianity is the Church of the
state, so non-Orthodox are considered incompletely Greek,” Archbishop Foscolos
told ENI. “Although the constitution guarantees citizens the same juridical
status regardless of creed, religious discrimination exists.” (ENI, 3 March 1999/HRWF 6 March 1999:
http://www.hrwf.net) (GHM/MRGG 2000: 54-56).
in favor of Greek Orthodox Christian ‘purity’ were expressed at the Third
Meeting of the Council of Greeks Living Abroad (SAE) in December 1999. Despite
the position of Patriarch Vartholomaios who attended the meeting, that although
Orthodox Christianity is closely related to the Greek national identity, the
two should not be equated, many delegates talked in favor of a pure Greek
Orthodox Christian Council. A Catholic delegate at the meeting, Yiannis
Filippousis, an academic from Canada,
reflected on the mixed feelings that these two different positions had caused
him in an article in Synhrona Vimata, the review of the Jesuit fathers
(Filippousis 2000). He condemned this ideology of which he was also a victim of
exclusion by the Greek community in Canada. He
claimed that the Greek diaspora in Canada
(for whose establishment he had worked) passed a clause in its constitution
that only Orthodox Christian Greeks could become members. He stressed that many
Catholics had helped the Greek Orthodox Church abroad to set up local parishes.
Mr. Filippousis concluded that others like him felt Greeks and wished that the
Council would not exclude them.
2.3.3. Relations with other minorities if any
No such relations
are known to exist. Rare exceptions have been some minority seminars organized
by NGOs that were attended among other minorities also representatives of JWs,
where they had the opportunity to hear the problems of other religious and
ethno-national minorities in Greece.
2.3.4. Relations between the regions inhabited
by the minority and the central authorities
Catholics are not concentrated in particular areas in
such a way as to lead to the identification of those areas as minority regions.
There is a higher number of Catholics living on the islands of Tinos and Siros than elsewhere
but surely today they do not constitute the majority even on these islands.
3.1.1. Linguistic family
3.1.2. Dialects and unity; linguistic awareness
3.1.3. Instruments of knowledge: description of
the language and norms (history of the written form and of its standardization)
history of the language
3.2.3. Cultural production in the
language (literature, oral tradition)
3.3.1. Territory in which the language is used
3.3.2. Number of persons using this language
(in territory and among emigrants)
of expression in the minority language
3.4.1. Level of acceptance or resistance to the
3.4.2. Ways in which the state protects or
impedes the use of the minority language
a religious minority
Traditionally, the Greek Catholics have felt
that their dogmatic differences with the Orthodox Christians should not pose
any serious problems since they both belonged to the Christian family and were
Greek nationals. Before 1990, there were a number of notable instances of
discrimination against them but they avoided official protests in order not to
be singled out.
In the 1990s, the situation started changing
both due to important international developments regarding freedom of religion
and also due to the fact that the first organizations dealing with the defense
of minority rights appeared in Greece, urging the country to respect minority
rights. For example, the former Deputy Foreign Minister, Professor Christos
Rozakis, in a study published in 1996, refers to the Catholics as a minority
that falls into the category of minorities in Greece that are differentiated
from the dominant group through one major distinctive feature, such as language
or religion or cultural ties. The other category includes the minorities of a
more complex character (Rozakis 1999: 27). In addition, the attack that the
Catholic community has suffered led the younger generations to perceive
themselves as a minority whose interests should be defended against official
and unofficial discrimination. In this context, Catholic organizations have
begun to acquire a more important role in the defense of their religious
The organizational network of the Catholic
Church has been developed in Greece to defend the religious freedom of the
Catholics and to cover their social and spiritual needs. Bishoprics, parishes,
convents, schools, and social organizations operate as venues where people can
meet and look after the individual and social needs of the community.
Organization: Since its last
reorganization by the Holy Synod in the Vatican in
1870, the Catholic Church of Greece has been divided into 9 ecclesiastical
provinces. The Greek state does not recognize the Catholic Bishoprics that were
founded after 1830 when the 3
February 1830 London
Protocol was signed between Greece and
its three protectors France, Britain and
This Protocol gave the Greek Catholics the right to exercise their religious
freedom and the full equality of rights before the law in the newly founded
Greek state. Since the 1870 restructuring, the Greek Orthodox Church has
impeded the legal recognition of the Catholic Bishoprics that were not included
in the London Protocol. As a result, in today’s Greece there
are a number of Catholic ecclesiastical provinces recognized by the state with
only a few devotees and a number of other ecclesiastical provinces with
thousands of devotees that are not recognized. The Archbishopric of Athens is
one such province that has not been recognized by the state. (GHM/MRRG 2000: 4)
ecclesiastical provinces and their estimated number of Greek Catholics are the
The Catholic Archbishopric of Athens was
founded as a diocese of the Latin Rites in 1205 and was re-founded on 23 July 1835.
Its authority covers the Peloponese and Sterea Hellas and numbers 27-30,000
devotees. Since 1973, the Arhbishop of Athens has been the Rev. Nikolaos
Foskolos from Tinos
(born in 1936).
The Archbishopric of Rhodes was founded as
an ecclesiastical province in 1797 in union with Malta and
was re-founded as an Archbishopric on 28 March 1928. It covers the Dodecanese
islands. Twenty years ago there were 432 devotees. Foreign Franciscan monks
hold services there. The Archbishop of Athens is the Head of the Archbishopric
as an Apostolic Administrator.
The Archbishopric of Naxos-Tinos with Tinos
holding the actual seat. It covers the islands of Tinos, Naxos, Paros,
Antiparos, Amorgos, Mykonos, Andros and
Delos. It also functions as a
diocese for the whole Aegean.
The first Archbishoprics in Naxos, Tinos and
Mykonos date back to the 13th
century. Altogether, there are about 3,000 devotees, mainly in Tinos.
There are resident pastors in Tinos and
Naxos. Regular pastoral services
are organized in Andros and
Mykonos (by priests from Tinos)
and Paros (by the priest of Naxos).
Since 1993, the Archbishop is the Rev. Nikolaos Printezis from Syros
(born in 1941).
The Bishopric of Chios covers the islands of
Chios, Lesvos, Samos,
and other islands of the eastern Aegean.
Although the Bishopric dates back to the 13th century, it has a tiny
following of just 25 devotees in 1974. Recently, there has been an increase in
the number of Catholic immigrants and the Bishopric’s Administrator, the
Archbishop of Naxos-Tinos has organized regular pastoral services since 1993.
The Archbishopric of Corfu covers all seven
of the Ionian Islands,
after the unification of the Bishoprics of Corfu (founded in 1310), Zakynthos
(1212), and Kefallonia (13th century) on 3 June 1919. Since 18 March 1926,
the Archbishopric has covered Epirus as
well. It has a following of around 3,000 devotees most of whom are descendants
of Maltese immigrants that are now Greek citizens. The Catholics of the Ionian
Islands (Eptanisa) have fewer problems with the
Orthodox Christian majority than any other Catholic community in Greece.
Since 1962, the Archbishop of Corfu has been the Rev. Antonios Varthalitis from
Syros (born in 1924), who belongs
to the monastic order of the Assumptionists.
The Apostolic Vicariate of Thessaloniki covers northern Greece. It
does not have enough following to become a Bishopric and is therefore, headed
by an Administrator. It was founded on 18 March 1926 with a following of 2,000
devotees. Since 1993, the Vicariate’s Administrator has been the Archbishop of
The Bishoprics of Syros, Santorini (Thira) and Crete, cover the southern Cyclades and
Crete. The Bishopric of Syros was
founded in 1207 and has a following of 8,000 devotees. The Bishopric of Thira
was founded in 1204 and since 1947 it has been under the jurisdiction of the
Bishop of Syros. It has a following of 150 devotees. The Bishopric of Crete was
founded in 1231. It was later abolished in 1669, and was re-founded on 28 July 1874. It
has a following of 1,000 devotees. Since 1974, the Rev. Franceskos Papamanolis
from Ano Syros (born in 1936) who belongs to the monastic order of the
Capuchins has been the Bishop of Syros and the southern Cyclades and
the Deputy of Crete.
The Hellenic Catholic Exarchate of the
Eastern Rite was also known as Uniates. It was founded in 1911 covering both Greece and
was subsequently divided in 1932, due to the uncertainties in the relations
between the two countries. After the ‘Asia Minor disaster,’ there was a massive
influx of Uniates from Turkey into Greece, but today the Exarchate’s following
numbers just over 3,000 devotees. Relations with the Orthodox Christian
majority are not good because the Uniates accept the Pope’s authority but
follow the Byzantine liturgy. Since 1975, the Head of the Exarchate has been
the Right Rev. Anargyros Printezis from Syros
(born in 1937), who holds the titular title of the Bishop of Gratianoupolis.
The Exarchate of the Armenian Catholics in
Greece was founded in 1925, following the 1918 Armenian genocide and the
arrival of Armenian refugees into Greece.
Since 1991, the Head of the Exarchate, without having a Bishop’s title, is
Nisan Karakehayian from Piraeus
(born in 1935) who is also the General Prelatic Commissioner of the Catholic
Exarchate in Armenia.
(GHM/MRGG 2000: 5-6)
The Holy Synod of the Catholic Church in Greece: The aforementioned
Archbishops, Bishop, and Heads of Exarchates, all of who are Greek citizens,
constitute the Holy Synod of the Catholic Church in Greece. The
President of the Synod is elected every three years. Since 1992, the Archbishop
of Athens, Rev. Nikolaos Foskolos, has held the title. The Holy See founded the
Synod on 10
June 1965. The last revision of the Constitution of the
Holy Synod by the Holy See was performed in 1983. The Holy Synod meets every
six months and according to Article 10 of its constitution its purpose is to
“discuss the common pastoral problems and to find new ways and methods of
The Heads of the ecclesiastical provinces are
chosen by the Holy See from a list of three persons proposed by the Greek
Synod. The Vatican’s Apostolic Nuncio in Greece informs the Holy See after researching the
preferences of clerics and devotees. The appointment is announced to the public
after the new Head of the ecclesiastical province is informed and accepts the
position. The members of the Holy Synod can keep their positions until they
become 75 years old, when they have to resign and be replaced.
The basic bodies of the Greek Synod, similar to
the rest of the world, are the following:
a. Secretariat and Press Office
b. Commissions for the catechism, liturgics,
pastoral service of tourists, the youth, social support and aid (the CARITAS
organization), and human rights (the commission for “Justice and Peace”)
c. Ecclesiastic Courts of the 1st
and 2nd degree, responsible for the annulment of marriages
d. Legal Council
Synod members head all these bodies made up of
priests, representatives of the monastic orders and devotees. (GHM/MRGG 2000:
and Monastic Orders: Through
the structuring of the Catholic Church in Greece, it becomes obvious that the majority of Greek
Catholics live in Athens (more than 50% of the total). Large Catholic communities inhabit Tinos and Syros where
Catholics comprise two fifths of the population. These areas have the largest
number of Catholic priests and monastic orders whose schools and charitable
institutions are very active. The insufficient number of Catholic priests is a
problem for the Catholic community in Greece since pastors have to resign when they become
75 years old and there is a shortage of Greek Catholic men with pastoral
inclinations. As a result, the Greek Catholic Church has to bring priests from
abroad or rely on the services offered by brothers of the monastic orders. The
last time clerics were ordained was when three men were ordained in Syros in 1995 and two in Athens in 1998 and another two in 2000. The majority
of the Greek Catholic clergy comes from Syros.
Monastic orders are considered by the Catholic
Church to be its power internationally. Thousands of foundations, such as
universities, schools, hospitals, and kindergartens function under their
management. The Catholic Church’s renowned charitable tradition is implemented
by the monastic orders, some of which have developed expertise in specific
charitable works. Greece has witnessed the influx of hundreds of monastic missions over the
centuries, some of which remained permanently. Today, there are 20 active
monastic orders in Greece. The majority of the brothers and sisters of
these monastic orders are Greek citizens. They are divided into three
categories, the male monastic orders with pastoral activities, the male
monastic orders and the female monastic orders.
orders with pastoral activities are the following:
1. The Jesuits
who began founding convents in Greece in the 16th century: in Crete
(1588-1606), Chios (1594-1773), Paros (1641-8), Santorini (1642-1773), Evoia
(1642-84), Macedonia (1633-1773), Naxos (1627-1773), Tinos (1669-1773), and
Syros (1744-73). In 1773 the Holy See suspended the function of the order until
1814. Immediately after that, the convent of Syros reopened (until 1997) as well as the one in Tinos that is still functioning. Since 1914, there
has been a convent in Athens.
2. The Capuchins
have been present in Greece since the 17th century. They
followed continuing activities for centuries in Chios (since 1627), Syros (1633), Naxos (1652), Milos (1661) the Ionian Islands and Crete. There
was also a convent in Athens in 1658. The convents of Syros, Athens, Corfu, Chania
and Iraklion are still functioning.
3. The Assumptionists
4. The Franciscans
5. The Dominicans
6. The Lazarists
or Brothers of Mission in Thessaloniki
1. The Marian
Brothers who founded and continue to administer the two schools “Leontios
Scholi” in Athens. For a brief period between the two world
wars, they had opened a similar school in Patras.
2. The Brothers
of the Christian Schools with the schools “Agios Pavlos” in Piraeus, “De La
Sal College” in Thessaloniki and “Saint George Primary” in Syros.
1. The Sisters of Mercy are active primarily in
the field of health care. They founded the “Agios Pavlos” hospital that has
been leased to the Greek state and the “Kalamari” school that has been leased
to private entrepreneurs, both in Thessaloniki. They also administer a home for the aged in Syros and hold the management of another home the
“Kalos Samaritis” belonging to the Catholic Archbishopric of Athens.
2. The Sisters
of Saint Joseph of the Apparition is the largest order in Greece numbering 35 nuns. They administer the “Saint Joseph” schools in Athens and Piraeus and a primary in Volos. In the past, they had a long presence in Syros, Chios and
3. The Ursulines
have been in Athens since 1947 where they administer secondary and
primary education schools. In the past, they have been present in Naxos, Tinos,
Nafplion and Kalamata.
Sisters of the Pammakaristos in Athens. They belong to the Greek Catholic Exarchate.
They managed the “Pammakaristos” hospital until its take over by the Greek
5. The Sisters
of the Holy Cross in Athens. It is a Greek order founded in 1939 by the Assumptionist Father
6. The Sisters
of the Carmelites in Athens since 1935. It is a closed monastic order where the nuns do not leave
the convent and practice prayers. They sell handicrafts in order to support
themselves. Half of them, (5 in 10) are Greeks.
7. The Dominicans
in Santorini are another closed monastic order. The nuns of this order are
mostly young foreigners who are well-known for their exquisite voices (canto domenicano).
8. The Franciscans
in Corfu (since 1908) where they are responsible for
the Catholic home for the aged.
9. The Sisters
of Saint Joseph of Lyon, in Corfu (since
1976). They practice catechism and administer a French language school.
10. The Little
Sisters of Jesus in Athens (1955) and Yiannitsa (1985). The nuns of this order live among the
population and work in factories, hospitals, etc. bringing the people closer to
God with their presence. In addition, they practice catechism and help the ill.
11. The Missionariess
of Charity, the order of Mother Theresa, has been present in Athens and Chania since 1986. The nuns of this order
are foreign and very young and care for immigrants from the Third World and refugees in Greece.
12. The Fokolarines
are not a monastic order but a movement in which priests and devotees
participate. They take oaths for a lifetime dedication just like the members of
monastic orders do. They have conservative social origins and beliefs and are
similar to other Catholic movements like the “Opus Dei” and the “Comunione e
Liberazione.” The members of the movement hold regular jobs during the day and
live together in their community. They try to bring God closer to the people
with their work through a number of activities organized for young couples and
children. (GHM/MRRG 2000: 7-12)
4.2. Religious freedom enjoyed
Archbishopric of Athens: The Cathedral Church of Athens is the Church of
built between 1853 and 1865. Since 1976, it and the other Archbishopric
buildings located in the same area have been characterized as conservation
monuments. In the 1980s renovation work was started but its progress is slow
due to financial difficulties.
majority of foreign Catholics living in Athens,
particularly the intensely religious Filipino community, attend masses at this
church. The Greek Catholics of Athens favor the Cathedral mainly for marriages
and baptisms. This is due to the fact that economic prosperity has led many
Catholics of Athens to choose the suburbs for their residence. Many Catholic
clubs originating from the Cycladic islands hold their meetings in the
Archbishopric’s auxiliary buildings and in the “Saint Dionysios Aeropagites”
are Catholic parishes in many districts and suburbs of the Greek capital. In
these areas Catholics attend masses in churches, chapels and convents. German
and Italian Catholics have their own churches while English and French-speaking
residents hold their masses in their own chapels. Also, the descendants of 19th
century King Otto’s Bavarian soldiers have their own parish church. This parish
of German descent is the largest in the capital with some 7,000 devotees.
are parishes belonging to the Archdiocese of Athens in Patras (1,000 devotees)
and Nafplion. Aspra Spitia in Viotia, where the French company “Aluminum of
Greece” is located, has many French and Greek Catholic followers.
Archdiocese of Athens has three primary schools: the “Saint Dionysios,” founded
in 1953, administered by the Sisters of Saint Joseph; the “Saint Pavlos,”
founded in 1956 and administered by the Archbishop himself until 1997 when it
was leased; the “Saint Andreas” in Patras, founded in 1961. It also has the
“Kalos Samaritis” home for the aged, managed by the Sisters of Mercy.
Greek priests belong to the Archdiocese of Athens. In addition, a number of
monastic orders are particularly active in the ecclesiastical province of
These orders are the following:
1. The Jesuits are responsible for the parish of
the Sacred Heart of Jesus in downtown Athens.
Apart from the Greek Catholics of the area, a large number of Polish immigrants
attend masses there. Until 1997, there was a primary school for Polish children
next to the parish church, which is now managed by the Polish embassy. There is
still a kindergarten. The Jesuits also serve the English speaking community in
a chapel in the suburb of Kifisia, in several convents and in the parish of
Aspra Spitia. In 1969 they founded the cultural center “Kentro
Ekdiloseon-Omilion – KEO” which functions as a society with Catholic and
Orthodox Christian members. This is a rare example of ecumenical cooperation
between Greek citizens of different denominations. They also publish the
magazines “Synhrona Vimata,” a quarterly review with a Christian and cultural
orientation and the monthly “Anihti Orizontes,” a magazine of religious
education and information. They also run a student hall that is able to
accommodate 40 students from both the Orthodox Christian and the Catholic
denomination who come from the countryside and from abroad. The Jesuits also
help the organizations of the Catholic youth (EKNE), the Catholic students
(EKFE) and the Catholic scientists (KIKEDE), all located in Athens.
2. The Assumptionists are responsible for the
parish in the district of Kipseli. In this parish, the Brotherhood for the Union of
the Churches has held its meetings since 1972.
3. The Capuchins are responsible for the parish
in the district of Agioi Anargyroi.
are two Dominican monks who are responsible for ecumenical seminars and
Marian Brothers administer the two “Leontios Sholi” in the district of Patisia
and the municipality of
They also run the primary school “Chrisostomos Smyrnis” in Nea Smyrni. Their
culture is French and they are known for their educational work and ecumenical
spirit. Many prominent members of Greek society were educated in their schools
most notably the Orthodox Christian Archbishop of Athens and
Greece Christodoulos. The Marian Brothers contribute to the Catholic Church’s
activities in charity, children’s summer camps and catechism. In addition, a
younger brother has dedicated himself to working with young boys and girls who
have fallen into theft, prostitution and drugs.
Brothers of the Christian Schools are
another order with French culture. They have run the school “Agios Pavlos” in Piraeus
Sisters of Saint Joseph is
the only order with three convents in Athens.
The first convent was founded in the center of Athens in
1856. Today the area where it was situated has become a shopping mall that has,
nevertheless, incorporated the convent. The Sisters’ primary and secondary
schools have been moved to the suburb of Pefki. The second convent was founded
in Piraeus in
1859 where the “Ioanna D’ Ark”
school is still in operation. The third and largest convent is situated in the
suburb of Palaio Iraklio next to the Catholic parish church. Their schools used
to accept only female pupils but now they have been turned into mixed schools. The
Sisters of Saint Josef apart from their educational duties help the Catholic
community in catechism and other activities.
1961, the Ursulines have operated the “Agios Dionysios” primary and nursery
school in the suburb of Marousi and the mixed secondary Greek-French School of
the Ursulines in the suburb of Psyhikon since 1994.
Sisters of the Holy Cross are responsible for a home for the aged in the suburb
of Aghia Paraskevi and an English language school operating within the grounds
of the convent.
- The Carmelite
Sisters are the order of contemplation.
- The Sisters of
Mercy operate the Archbishopric’s home for the aged in the suburb of
Theresa’s Sisters of Love work with immigrants and refugees in Athens.
They offer food to homeless people and also work with single or abandoned
Archbishopric of Rhodes: The head of the ecclesiastical province of
the Archbishop of Athens because the number of Catholics in the area is so
small that the Holy See has suspended the appointment of a local Ordinary. The
number of local priests is insufficient. Due to historical reasons, pastoral
care has been taken over by Franciscan monks. Rhodes was
and continues to be under the jurisdiction of the Holy Land Franciscans. After
the union of the Dodecanese
islands with Greece in
1947, the province was naturally incorporated into the Greek Catholic Church
but the Franciscans remained.
are two parishes in Rhodes.
The first one was established in 1740 and the other one in 1939. In addition,
there are two 19th century chapels. There is also one parish in Kos
that was founded in 1924. Today most Catholics in this province are foreigners,
mostly women married to Greeks. In the cultural center of the Archbishopric,
there is a Scandinavian, a German, an English, a Dutch, a French and even a
Vietnamese society. There is also a Greek-German society, a society of the Rhodes’
Catholics, and a French and German library. Since there are no Greek
Franciscans on the island, services are held in several languages.
recently a convent and a school of the Brothers of the Christian Schools was
in operation. The remaining brothers on the island teach French language
Greek Catholic Exarchate: The
Uniate church is the product of a 19th century pro-union movement of
the churches in Istanbul and
After the 1922 ‘Asia Minor
disaster’ of the Greek army, the majority of the church’s followers came to Greece
under the agreement between Greece and
exchange populations. The refugees, who had been involved in agriculture,
settled in Yiannitsa in northern Greece,
where the parish of Saints Peter and Paul has been in operation since 1859. The
rest of the refugees settled in Athens and
founded the parish of the Holy Trinity and a students’ hall in 1929.
parish, a large number of Eastern Catholics from the Middle
East, especially Iraq,
attend masses. For their benefit, an Iraqi priest arrived in the summer of
1998. The Exarchate has seven Greek priests. Ukrainian immigrants also attend
masses in this parish.
their arrival in Greece,
the Catholics of the Eastern Rite founded the hospital “Pammakaristos” which
has now been taken over by the state. The sisters of the “Pammakaristos Mother
of God” were responsible for the management of the hospital until then. For
many years they have also been running a home for children with special needs
under the name of their order. They also run a home for the elderly, a female
students’ hall, and a house of prayer in the area of Kifisia.
Exarchate has undertaken a significant publishing project in Greece. It
runs the “Office of the Good Press” and publishes the “Katholiki” newspaper
every two weeks. It also runs the Catholic bookshop in the center of Athens. It
also publishes a religious information newsletter in French.
Little Sisters of Jesus belong to the Exarchate. Although the congregation was
founded in Western Europe, it
has followed the eastern tradition when operating in the East in order to
become part of the local mentality. This has alienated some Orthodox Christians
who think that this is a tactic of proselytism.
chapels belong to the Exarchate, one in Syros,
the birthplace of the majority of its priests and nuns, and one in Nea Makri
where the “Pammakaristos” home is situated. Priests and Nuns of the Exarchate
also run a seaside summer camps for adults and children.
Exarchate of the Armenian Catholics in Greece: This is the third Catholic
community in Athens
after the Roman Catholics and the Catholics of the Eastern Rites. It has a very
small following and only one priest. Its seat is in the district of Neos
Kosmos. The Exarchate of Armenian Catholics also has a chapel in the municipality of
Nikea in Piraeus.
Archbishopric of Naxos-Tinos:
This is one of the cradles of Catholicism in Greece, a
place from where many of the Catholics living in Athens
originate. Today, only eight priests (six Greek and one Polish priests in Tinos
and one in Naxos), two Jesuits (in Tinos) and a deacon (in Tinos) cover the
pastoral needs of 3,000 permanent residents, tourists and the few Greek
Catholics scattered around other islands like Andros, Mykonos, Paros, Lesvos
are a few Catholics in Tinos,
the capital Chora and in many villages around it. Half of the islands’ villages
have a Catholic population and three villages are mixed, with Orthodox and
Catholic residents. In two of the mixed villages, the Catholics are the
majority. Many Greeks are ignorant of these statistics and think of Tinos as
the holy island of Orthodox Christianity because of the miraculous finding of
the Virgin Mary icon in 1824. The two communities coexist without any serious
problems. Mixed marriages have become very common in recent years and members
of both communities attend each other’s religious masses and festivals without
to a recent Greek law on the unification of local authorities, all Catholic and
a few Orthodox Christian villages were unified under one authority in the new municipality of
The mayor’s seat is in the village of
which is also the historical seat of the Archbishopric.
there are 30 flourishing parishes with once-a-week masses and hundreds of small
chapels scattered around the hills of the island. These chapels are dedicated
to a large number of Saints and masses are held on the day that these Saints
are celebrated. Each year the island is the scene of two important Catholic
pilgrimages. One is held in July in the island’s old castle, the Exomburgh, where
the “Holy Heart of Jesus” is honored. The other is held on 1 May in the shrine
of Our Lady at Vrigsi.
island’s parishes publish the monthly newspaper “Tiniaka Minimata” which is a
medium of communication between its inhabitants and the Catholics of Athens
whose origin is from Tinos.
Since 1 January 1997,
the Archbishopric’s radio station “Pisti and Politismos” has been broadcasting
in the FM band covering the whole Cyclades. A
number of Catholic societies have summer camps for children on Tinos.
Jesuits have been settled on the island since 1679. They help in the running of
the parishes, in catechism, and deal with youth problems. They are responsible
for the organization of the Sacred Heart Castle
pilgrimage. They also publish a quarterly newsletter. In their convent, they
have created a museum of old agricultural tools.
Ursulines have been on the island since 1862. Nowadays there are only very few
and relatively old Ursuline sisters, who are active only in catechism and in
organizing spiritual gatherings for young women. Their primary school and
students’ hall in Tinos, as
well as their school in Naxos
that was closed down, used to be well-known all over Greece.
The Archbishopric’s students’ hall and the Franciscan convent in Naxos
have also been closed down but the buildings function as a summer camp for
children. The Old Catholic Cathedral in Naxos is
used as a cultural center.
apart from the known Catholic youth and charity organizations, a Society of
Catholic Farmers is also active. In the late 1980s, the movement of
“Neo-Catechism” appeared on the island. The movement was founded in Spain
after the Second World War and spread to various parts of the world. It has a
conservative social orientation. The movement’s members are priests and
devotees who gather together for in-depth studies of the Gospel.
Catholics of Tinos are mainly farmers and builders. There are very few
businessmen although the increase of the number of tourists visiting the island
has prompted many inhabitants to invest in tourism and development. The island
has failed to retain its younger educated inhabitants because the opportunities
for professionals are few. Nevertheless, the emigration of the young is
balanced by the return of Catholics pensioners from Athens
hence the Catholic population remains stable.
Archbishopric of Corfu: This Archbishopric that
covers the islands of the Ionian Sea and
around 3,000 devotees, many of them of Maltese origin. The majority of the
island’s Catholics live in the town of Corfu.
The Catholics of Corfu have served in many official posts and are generally
accepted by their fellow citizens. The role of the Archbishop of Corfu Rev.
Antonios Varthalitis is important in cultivating these relations because he has
established friendly ties with the islands religious and official authorities.
He heads the Archbishopric’s primary school on the island.
ecclesiastical province contains six parishes, two in Corfu,
and one in Kefallonia, Zakynthos, Preveza, and Ioannina each. Only the first
three have permanent ministers. A priest administers the central parish of the
island in the city hall square. Two Capuchin monks administer the parish in
Kostella in Corfu,
the Maltese quarter of the island, and the parish in Kefallonia. For decades,
no local Catholics have expressed a wish to be ordained.
Franciscan sisters of Maltese origin and three Sisters of Saint Joseph of Lyon
(the educational order) work on the island from the Cyclades.
The Capuchins are the sole male monastic order present on the island. Their
role in the pastoral service of the local Catholic community is imperative.
Recently, younger Capuchin brothers from Italy
have joined them. They are willing to stay in Greece
long term, because they have learned the Greek language and eastern theology.
is a local office of the Union of Catholic Youth as well as a Society of Greek
Catholics of Corfu. Efforts are made to create a local branch of the Movement
of Catholic Scientists.
Zakynthos, a summer camp for young people is in operation.
Apostolic Vicariate of Thessaloniki: There are 2,500 Catholics
in northern Greece, in
Macedonia, Thrace and
Thessaly. They are
representatives of internal migrants, Asia Minor
refugees, immigrants, and foreign nationals married to Greeks. The Archbishop
of Corfu is the head of this ecclesiastical province. The province is defined
as a Vicariate because it lacked the necessary elements that constitute a
bishopric when it was founded. Members of the Fathers of the Congregation, also
known as Lazarists, carry out Pastoral services in Macedonia and
They have been present in Thessaloniki
main parish is situated in Thessaloniki,
while periodical services are held in the churches of Kavala (Macedonia)
and Alexandroupolis (Thrace).
The churches in Thessaly (Volos and
Larissa) that used to be serviced by Jesuit monks now have two priests
belonging to the Archbishopric of Corfu. Also active in the province are the
Brothers of the Christian Schools
have been running the De Lasalle College in Thessaloniki
Sisters of Saint Joseph have been active in Volos
since 1904. They run a primary school and a French language school. They pay
visits and help the ill in their homes and are active in catechism.
Jesuit monk acts in cooperation with the Lazarist fathers for the service of
the Catholic families living away from the functioning churches in Macedonia and
convent of the Sisters of Mercy was established in 1893 in Kalamaria, Thessaloniki.
Currently, it is not operating.
there is a local section of the Union of
the Catholic Youth and a section of the Movement of the Catholic Scientists.
Bishopric of Syros: The island of
been, and still is, the main center of Greek Catholicism. The majority of the
Catholics of the Cyclades
live on the island while a large number of Catholics in Athens
originate from Syros.
Three quarters of the Greek Catholic clerics, monks and nuns are from Syros.
Catholic Bishopric is situated in Ano Syros, the “Rock” as the locals call it.
Ano Syros used to be the natural capital of the island and the center of the
island’s activities until the Greek Revolution against the Ottoman
Empire. During the Revolution, a number of Catholic
inhabitants from other islands took refuge in the island’s capital in order to
escape from Ottoman persecution. They created the present capital of the island
-- the town of Ermoupolis.
Today many Catholics from Syros
live in Ermoupolis and for that reason, the bishopric has relocated many of its
1986 the bishopric founded a Center of
Historic Studies in
Ano Syros. The most important documents of the island’s history are kept there
in microfilms. Many researches have taken advantage of these records.
bishopric’s organization is considered to be the best in Greece.
This is due to the large number of educated local Catholics, the sufficient
number of clerics, the small distance that needs to be covered, and the
administrative skills of the current Bishop Frankiskos Papamanolis.
“Agios Pavlos” Pastoral Center in
the village of
the place for the island’s gatherings and other events of the Catholic Church.
It is also an important catechism center as well as an important summer resort
for young people. It has staged a number of important conferences and festivals
of the Catholic Youth (1981, 1983, and 1987). The World Meeting of the Catholic
Youth took place there in 1994.
bishopric runs the “Folia” kindergarten in Ano Syros.
newspaper “Enoriakes Kampanes” serves as a communication medium of the island’s
parishes. It is circulated monthly.
priests serve in the island’s 15 parishes. Apart from Ano Syros, the island’s
10 villages have a predominantly Catholic population. In the large parishes,
branches of the Union of
the Catholic Youth are operating. Other societies, brotherhoods of the local
churches, and local Caritas are also active. Moreover, there are branches of
the Union of Greek Catholics, the Movement of Catholic Scientists, and a
Neo-Catechist Community like the one in Tinos.
following orders are active in Syros:
Capuchins have been in Ano Syros since 1625. There is only one monk left but
younger brothers might be coming.
1914 the Brothers of the Christian Schools
founded their convent and the primary school “Agios Georgios” in Ermoupolis.
Sisters of Mercy founded their convent in Ermoupolis in 1884. Their mission is
to take care of the aged and the ill. Since 1986, they run the “Panagia tis
Kalis Elpidas” home for the aged.
Jesuits founded their convent in Ano Syros in 1744. Although the Greek Jesuits
are predominantly from Syros
they decided to leave the convent and move to Athens in
1997 because the pastoral needs there are great.
bishopric of Syros is
responsible for the safekeeping and the renovation of two Catholic churches in Milos and
the Catholic cemetery that has been declared a monument in preservation.
A 12 September 1998
publication in the press stated that the Greek Ministry of Culture uses a
Catholic church belonging to the Bishopric of Syros, situated on the island of
a storage room.
some young men from the island have expressed their clerical inclinations and
the Bishopric of Syros is looking ahead with hope unlike other provinces that
face a shortage of young clerics.
relations between Catholics and the minority Orthodox Christian inhabitants of
the island are very good despite occasional reports to the contrary. Many
Catholics on Syros, as
well as on Tinos, do
not feel at all comfortable with the Orthodox Christian Metropolitan Dorotheos
of Syros-Tinos-Mykonos. They believe that his presence does not favor the
development of good relations between the two communities.
Bishopric of Santorini:
There are many standing witnesses of the glorious Catholic past of Santorini.
The island’s capital, Fira, has a number of important buildings like the old
Bishopric, the Cultural Center
that now serves as a folklore museum, the old Monastery of the Lazarists that
has now been turned into a summer camp and the Dominicans’ convent.
Nicolaos Kokkalakis who organizes all the other activities of the Catholic
community in Santorini serves the Saint
John temple in Fira and the ten chapels scattered
around the island. He is also the person responsible for collecting funds on
behalf of the Greek Catholics that aid the charity work of the Catholic Church
missions around the world.
are very few Catholics in Santorini now because of internal migration.
Santorini stands as proof that wherever the Catholic population was not local,
it gradually diminished considerably. The Catholics of the island began to
leave soon after the island was taken over by the Ottoman Turks.
Catholic presence on the island dates back to 1596 with the “closed” convent of
the Dominican sisters. The convent is still in operation. These nuns, two from Syros and
nine from Spain, do
not go out of the convent and their main activities include prayer and
Bishopric of Crete: The presence of the Catholic
Church in Crete
dates back to the Venetian occupation of the island with the creation of many
bishoprics (1213-1669). The Catholic Bishopric of Crete was re-founded in 1874.
An important factor for this was the foundation of the Greek-French school of
the Sisters of Saint Joseph in Chania (1852-1966).
monks maintain the pastoral service of the local Catholic community. They have
been present on the island since 1566. In older times, there used to be many
Greek Capuchin brothers, who have gradually been replaced by Italian Capuchins
who are now the majority. This is evidence that the majority of the Catholic
community in Crete is
composed of foreign nationals who have settled permanently on the island.
are Catholic parishes in Chania, where the island’s Catholic Cathedral is
situated, in Iraklion and
Rethymnon. Capuchin convents, recently renovated, can be found in Chania and Iraklion.
the last few years, a conflict between the local Catholic community and the
Orthodox Christian Metropolitan Irinaios of Chania has been underway. The
reason for this conflict is the charitable work of “foreigners,” as the
Metropolitan calls them, belonging to Mother Theresa’s Congregation, who are
accused of proselytism. The Union of Catholics in Crete has
officially complained to the Patriarch of Constantinople Vartholomaios, who is
ultimately responsible for the Orthodox Church of Crete (“Katholiki” 14/5/98).
Catholic Church of Crete has faced a number of legal problems trying to secure
its property. Greek courts decided that the Catholic Church of Crete was not
founded legally. The case was brought to the European Court of Human Rights
(ECHR) in Strasbourg. In
1997, the ECHR decided in favor of the Catholic Church of Crete (see 5.2
Present Legal Status). (GHM/MRGG 2000:12-23)
4.3. Relations with the dominant religious
community and the other communities
As it has already been said, Orthodox Christian
and Catholic Greeks have good relations with each other. Extremists in the
Orthodox Church’s leadership, as well as some politicians and journalists and
their followers, however, have caused some problems. The Catholics do not have
official relations with any other religious minorities. There is no network of
organizations to represent religious minorities and act in their defense.
Of course to the extent that the mainstream
media constitutes the expression of the dominant religious communities’
attitude, both as producer and product of that attitude, it is clear that the
Greek media is characterized by a “nationally” correct journalism on anything
that concerns religious minorities. As we read in the report on “Minorities
and the Media in Greece”, “stories on the European
Court of Human Rights (ECHR), on the 50th anniversary of the
respective Convention” were characterised by “biased journalism.” “Useful
description of the Court was certainly given, as well as statistics about the
caseload, but the illustrative examples tended to come mostly from Turkey.
The reader of the four-page dossier on the ECHR in the glossy magazine Tachydromos,
an insert in the highest circulation daily Ta Nea (6 May 2000), for
example, would not find there any information on even one case in which the
European Court convicted Greece. A regular reader of Greek newspapers would of
course be hardly surprised. For example, “there was not even one newspaper to
report that a Cretan court had denied that the Catholic Church, with a
half-millenary presence, had a legal personality allowing it to own a church in
that island. A few years later Greece
was to be convicted by the ECHR on that issue: only then a few newspapers
devoted a couple of articles. (…) So, when it comes to minority issues, the
Greek press is reminiscent of that of authoritarian regimes where “nationally
sensitive issues” are reported only in a “nationally correct” way, if at all.”
(GHM & MRGG 2002b) Having seen already how state-church relations in Greece
are embedded in a mesh of interdependencies, it is of course clear that the
definition of what is nationally correct includes identifying with the
appropriate religious identity, that of Christian Orthodox believers.
4.4. Ways in which the state protects or
impedes minority religious activities
professor Pollis remarks in one of her studies on religious freedom in Greece,
“The underlying premises of any social order are institutionalized in state
structures. Deinstitutionalization and delegalization can facilitate changes in
norms and behavior. Greece will not be in conformity with Europe’s norms on
religious freedom until the courts (1) abandon their narrow interpretation of
“known” religion, (2) remove from the Ministry of Education and Religion the
power to issue permits for the establishment of houses of worship, (3)
differentiate between education and religion, (4) drop religion from the
Ministry of Education and Religion, (5) abolish the Greek Orthodox Church’s supervisory
role and power over all religious matters, and (6) inhibit restrictive
legislation. Without such reforms, Greece will not only remain subject to
charges of violating the Human Rights Convention but, more fundamentally, will
have the distinction of being the only member of the European Community and
signatory of the Convention of Human Rights to limit religious freedom and to
harass religious minorities. Restrictions on religious freedom are symptomatic
not only of Greece’s
insularity but also of the rigidity of the boundaries that define Greek ethnic
identity. Lying ahead is a tortuous path leading from this present state to the
emergence of multiple identities that help Greekness to become primarily a
cultural and linguistic identity coexisting with the construction of a European
5. GENERAL LEGAL STATUS
The legal framework of
religious freedom in Greece:
The freedom of
religious practice is constitutionally guaranteed in Greece. Article 5.2 of the
Constitution guarantees the “enjoyment of the full protection of life,
honor, and freedom without any discrimination of nationality, race, language
and religious or political beliefs” (G.C. 2001). As far as religious freedom is concerned, the
Constitution specifies in Article 13.1 that: “religious
freedom is inviolable. Enjoyment of individual and political rights is not
depended on anyone’s religious belief.” In relation to religious practices,
Article 13.2 states that: “every known religion is free and its related
worship is practiced unhindered under the protection of the law.” The same
Article, however, forbids proselytism. After a decision by
the court, known religion has been defined a “religion or a dogma whose
doctrine is open and not secret, is taught publicly and its rites of worship
are also open to the public, irrespective of whether its adherents have
religious authorities; such a religion or dogma needs not to be recognized or
approved by an act of the State or Church.” (Konidaris 1991: 59-60)
Freedom of belief is guaranteed to all, whereas freedom of worship,
although protected by the Constitution, may be subject to certain limitations
arising in particular from the status of “known religion” and from the manner
in which proselytism is viewed. The concept of “known religion” (Article 13,
paragraph 2, of the Constitution) provides that freedom of worship is reserved
only for the “known” religions. This concept raises a number of questions
because, although the concept is not defined in the Constitution, the related provision
limits religious freedom. This limitation appears to be inconsistent with
Article 1, paragraph 3, of the 1981 Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms
of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, which
provides that “Freedom to manifest
one’s religion or belief may be subject only to such limitations as are
prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or
morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.” Indeed, Article 13, paragraph 2, of
the Constitution explicitly imposes such legal limitations (in respect of
public order and morals) and applies them to all “known” religions.
According to Greek legal practice and information supplied by the
authorities, a “known” religion must have no secret dogmas and must not involve
worship in secret. In the opinion of the Ministry of Justice, it must be a
religion to which any person may adhere and it must be sufficiently
transparent, in order for the state to guard against religions that pose a threat
to the public order, morals and the rule of law. The absence of any
constitutional or legislative definition of the concept of “known” religion
would appear to contravene the 1981 Declaration and the legal limitations
envisaged therein and pose serious practical problems to religious minorities
and conscientious objectors. Moreover, it should be noted that Article 14 of
the Constitution provides that the seizure of newspapers and other publications
before or after circulation is allowed by order of the public prosecutor in
case of an offence against the Christian religion or any other “known”
religion. Accordingly, religions that are not “known” are not covered by this
provision (Abdelfattah Amor, 1996 & GHM/MRGG 1999a).
Regarding religious freedom
and the protection of the rights of religious minorities and of persons
belonging to those minorities, Greece cooperates with international
organizations of which it is a member: the United Nations, the European Union,
the Council of Europe, OSCE, ILO, and UNESCO. Greece is a contracting party to
several international instruments that should provide favourable conditions for
religious freedom and belief. According to Article 28§1 of the Greek
Constitution, international law and conventions form an integral part of
domestic legislation and take precedence over domestic legislation in any case
of conflicting provisions.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
Geneva Convention (1956)
Convention on the Prevention and Repression of the
Crime of Genocide (1954)
U.N. Convention for the abolition of any racial
European Convention for the Protection of Human
Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1974)
Protocol (No1) to the European Convention for the
Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1974)
Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1959)
Convention relating to the Status of Stateless
Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of
Intolerance and Discrimination based on Religion or Belief (U.N.) (1981)
Convention concerning Discrimination in Respect of
Employment and Occupation (No. 111, ILO) (1984)
European Social Charter (1984)
International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights (1985)
European Convention on Torture and Inhuman and
Degrading Treatment (1993)
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights (1997)
Second Optional Protocol to the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1997)
International Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Racial Discrimination (1970)
Framework Convention for the Protection of National
Minorities (FCNM) (signed 1997 not ratified)
U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (1992)
Protocol no.12 to the European Convention on Human
Rights on the Prohibition of All Forms of Discrimination
The European Convention on the Exercise of
Children’s Rights (1997)
Amsterdam Treaty (1999)
Final Act of the Conference on Security and
Cooperation in Europe (1975)
Concluding Document of the Madrid Meeting of
Representatives of the Participating States held on the basis of the provisions
of the Final Act relating to the follow up to the Conference (1983)
Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the
Conference on the Human Dimension (1990)
Charter of Paris for a new Europe (1991)
it was said in Section 1.1 about the relations of the Catholic Church and the
Modern Greek state in the 19th century, the legal status of the
Catholic Church in independent Greece was
formulated in the 1830 London Protocol signed by the new state and its
protective powers France, Russia,
This protocol acted in accordance with the already existing Greek Constitution.
It secured the freedom, equality and property of the Greek Catholics in the Cyclades and
the free existence of the Catholic Church in Greece. In
1864, after the unification of Eptanisa with Greece,
the London Protocol’s validity was extended to cover the Catholics of the new
number of rights were secured through this Protocol for the Catholic Church in Greece:
freedom of worship, recognized ownership of Catholic property, full equality
for the Greek Catholics, administrative autonomy of the Catholic Church. In
addition, the Greek state pledged not to intervene in the appointment of the
Catholic clergy by the Holy See and to provide them with full freedom and
protection in the execution of their duties, in accordance with Greek law.
these safeguards, since 1830 the Catholic Church has faced a number of legal
obstacles in the free exercise of its practice. The biggest problem is the
legal recognition of the Catholic bishoprics founded after the 1830 Protocol.
Since the foundation of the modern Greek state new land was acquired over the
course of a century. Migration movements led the Catholics to settle in new
areas all over Greece and
Greek Catholics from Turkey
arrived in Greece
after the exchange of populations. The Holy See, having considered the new
demographic realities, decided to introduce some organizational changes in the
Catholic Church of Greece and to found new bishoprics.
1875, the Holy See re-founded the Catholic Bishopric of Athens. After the
population exchange the Armenian Exarchate was founded in 1925 and the
Apostolic Vicariate of Thessaloniki in 1926. In 1928, the Archbishopric of
Rhodes was re-founded and finally the Greek Catholic Exarchate of the Eastern
Rite of Asia Minor was made autonomous within the structure of the Greek
Catholic Church. These new ecclesiastical provinces were added to the already
existing ones. The Archbishopric of Naxos-Tinos-Mykonos, The Archbishopric of
Corfu-Zakynthos-Kefallonia, and the Bishoprics of Syros, Santorini and Crete all
had a recognized legal status in accordance to the London Protocol.
London Protocol provided the legal foundation of the relations between the
Greek state and the Catholic Church until the end of the First World War. A
number of international treaties signed by Greece in
the 20th century provided the basis for the protection of all kinds
of minorities within Greece.
These were the Treaties of Serves (1920) and Lausanne
(1923) and the Convention of Rome (1950).
The Treaty of Serves did not abolish the
validity of the London Protocol but cancelled the capacity of France, Britain and Russia as protective powers of Greece. The most important clauses of this treaty
affecting the Greek Catholic community are the following:
2 reads, “Greece has the obligation to provide to all its citizens
full protection of their life and freedoms irrespective of origin, nationality,
language, race and religion. All the inhabitants of any faith have the right to
practice freely, in private and in public, their religious duties for as long
as they do not violate public order and common customs.”
7.3 reads: “Difference of religion,
dogma or faith should not harm the civil and political rights of any Greek
8 reads that “Greek citizens belonging
to national, religious or linguistic minorities will benefit from the same real
and legal protection and guarantees like the rest of the Greek citizens. In
particular, they will have equal rights in building, managing, and controlling,
at their own expenses, charitable institutions, schools and other educational
foundations, and they will have the right of free use of their own language and
free exercise of their religion in them.”
above articles give the Catholic Church substantial freedom and the right to
define its ecclesiastical provinces and the duties of its clerical servants in
them. By refusing to recognize the provinces created after 1830, due to the
opposition of the Orthodox Christian leadership, the Greek state nullified the
validity of the treaty.
1950 European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights states in article
9.2 that the “freedom of religious or
ideological expression should not be allowed to be subject of any limitations
apart from those measures foreseen by the law as necessary in a democratic
society for its public security, defense of public order, health and morality
or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.” The Convention,
which has been ratified by Greece,
further codifies minority rights.
to Greek governments, irrespective of what international treaties have
prescribed, the protection of fundamental human rights has been secured in all
Greek constitutions. This is particularly important, because these official
declarations have shown Greece’s
willingness to align itself with the European countries that followed the
liberal tradition of the Enlightenment. Therefore, all Greek Constitutions
since the restoration of democracy in 1975 refer to the inviolability of
religious conscience, the freedom to enjoy all individual and political rights
irrespective of religious beliefs, and the free worship of every “known”
religion (see art.5, 2 & art.13, 1-2). However, a series of legal problems
have been raised and the Catholic Church and other religious minorities have
been discriminated against. (GHM/MRGG 2000: 33-36)
The problem of the legal recognition of the
Catholic Archbishopric of Athens: Under Ottoman rule, Athens did
not have a Catholic bishop. At the time Athens
became the capital of modern Greece
shortly after independence, there were only 246 Catholics in the city. However,
Bavarian officers and soldiers that King Otto brought with him, diplomats, and
immigrants from the Aegean islands quickly raised the number of the Catholic
population of Athens.
Initially, in order to cover the needs of the Catholics of Athens, the Holy See
appointed the Bishop of Syros, Ludoviko Vlagkis as “Apostolic Charge
d’Affairs.” The Greek government accepted this appointment with Royal Decree
No. 1749 (15/5/1838).
For the Catholics, this meant a silent practical extension of the London
Protocol to areas that were not specified in it. Later, other royal decrees
recognized similar appointments to areas that did not have bishops.
On 13 July 1875,
the Holy See decided to reestablish the Catholic Archbishopric of Athens on the
basis of the fact that the number of Catholic followers in the capital had
risen substantially. The Greek government refused to recognize this new
ecclesiastical province, arguing that the 1830 London Protocol recognized only
the provinces that had been in existence when the document was signed.
Similarly, official legal recognition was denied to every new Catholic
ecclesiastical province that was established later.
Greek state, by holding to this formalistic interpretation of the London
Protocol, thus refused to accept the demographic changes that had occurred
since 1830. To some observers this attitude was influenced by the increasing
political power of the Orthodox Church in Greek society at the end of the 19th
century, power that the Orthodox Church lacked when Greece
first gained its independence. The influence of the Orthodox Church is
manifested in Greek public law, the discourse of the political parties and the
media. It is based on the prevailing national ideology that equals the Greek
national identity with the Orthodox Christian spirit. As a consequence, Greek
law reflects this ideology and becomes the medium for the present manifestation
of discriminations. (GHM/MRGG 2000:
According to professor M. P. Stathopoulos, former Minister of Justice,
the Greek state in many ways “it is religious.” As he explains, the Greek state
mingles in the affairs of the Orthodox Church, which accepts this interference
because it thus obtains a kind of state institutional status, allowing it, in
turn, to carry greater power and influence. The state passes legislative acts
that while addressing all citizens they represent the interests of the
Christian Orthodox Church; also, it relegates a religious character to events
that ought to be strictly secular in character in a modern state, starting from
the opening of parliamentary works by the Orthodox Archbishop as far as acts
based on religious discrimination against minorities which lead Greece
repeatedly to the ECHR. In this ambiguous symbiosis “the religious objectivity
of the state is debased while the church looses its autonomy.” (1999: 201-206)
Within this contradictory context must be interpreted the legal state of the
Catholic Church of Greece presently.
Legal personality and religious
law in Greece: The legal personality of the Catholic Church
has been a constant matter of debate between the state, the justice system and
the Church itself. For the Orthodox Church, the situation is clear. It is a
legal entity that exercises public administration. It is also a spiritual
organization that issues acts related to its dogma, worshiping, and religious
duties. Its actions are not subject to any control by the Council of the State.
In October 1998, Greek Helsinki Monitor
welcomed the late Deputy Foreign Minister Yannos Kranidiotis’ statement to the
organization that the government finally intended to introduce legislation
granting the Catholic Church of Greece a legal status similar to that of the
other historical religions: Orthodox Christian, Jewish and Muslim (GHM/MRG-G
1999b). The then Alternate and now Foreign Minister George Papandreou confirmed
this intention, during a December 1998 meeting with minorities organized by GHM
and MRG-G and hosted by the Foreign Ministry. GHM recommended that such
legislation be introduced in agreement with the Catholic Bishops’ Synod.
According to the religious law of the Catholic
Church, the Church in its entirety (i.e. the Holy Synod, the Bishoprics and
Archbishoprics, the parishes, etc.) is made up of different legal entities. The
Greek state recently acknowledged that but did not state what kind of legal
personality it attributes to the Catholic Church (on the matter of the
recognition see below). At this point it is still unclear whether the Catholic
Church will be a public law entity as the Orthodox Church, a private law entity
as a society or foundation, or an entity with a special legal status.
There is no doubt that traditionally, the
Catholic Church has had a legal personality since the Constitution provides for
religious freedom and self-administration. In practice, the state has also
recognized the Catholic Church’s power to exercise public administration by
accepting the Catholic wedding certificates, baptism certificates, etc. The
Greek state has also given special privileges to the Catholic Church, very
similar to those of the Orthodox Church. Catholic priests and monks, for
example, are exempt from serving in the Greek armed forces.
Be that as it may, the nature and power of this
legal personality in relation to the internal religious law of the Catholic
Church has not yet been clarified. The Legal Council of the State in its
Judgment No. 1229/i.103 (11/11/1955) recognized the Bishops’ right to found
charitable institutions according to Catholic religious law. It concluded in
another Judgment (113/30/1/68) that international protocols secured the
religious freedom of the Catholics but did not recognize the Catholic Bishops’
authority over anything other than spiritual and administrative matters.
In this context, the Greek Catholic Church has
not concluded what kind of legal personality it wishes to acquire. The best
solution for the Catholic Church would be the state’s acceptance of the
applicability of its internal religious law since it is not in conflict with
public order regulations, an arrangement like the one that the Orthodox Church
has under the Greek Constitution (Article 3.1). (Levandis, 2000)
The problem of the legal
recognition of the Catholic Archbishopric of Athens: Until recently, the main legal problem of the
Greek Catholic Church was the official recognition of the ecclesiastical
provinces founded after 1830. Some prominent Greek legal experts have
repeatedly stated that religious communities have the right to self-governance
and that public administration institutions do not have the authorization to
approve or disapprove of the establishment of ecclesiastical provinces. The
Greek Ministry of National Education and Religions has avoided reaching any
solution to the problem. It has effectively avoided a dispute with the Orthodox
Church’s leadership, fearing that this would cost important votes.
This attitude has led to the continuation of
the confusing situation for more than a century. At present, the refusal to grant
legal status to the Catholic Archbishopric of Athens has caused a number of
other problems. One of them is the title that the Catholic Archbishop is
allowed to use on official occasions or during his communication with public
authorities. The Orthodox Church does not allow the use of the title
“Archbishop of Athens” by anybody other than the president of the Holy Synod of
the Greek Orthodox Church who is the spiritual and administrative leader of the
Eastern Church in Greece. This refusal holds even if the Latin Archbishop defines his title with
the word “Catholic.” In 1983 the state was presented with a different title,
which it refused to recognize. After pressure from the Orthodox Christian
leadership, the state refused to recognize the title “Archbishop of Agios
Dionysios and Metropolitan of Continental Greece” (the Catholic Cathedral of
Athens is devoted to Saint Dionysios).
This situation has created other legal
problems. The Catholic Archbishopric of Athens lacks the necessary public legal
personality, while the Catholic parishes of the capital as well as other
religious communities elsewhere have been granted legal status. This situation
has created an absurd paradox according to which the pastors of the parishes
are legally recognized, but the entity that appoints them and presides over
them is not. In this situation the head of the Catholic community in Athens is given the title of “Archbishop of the
Catholics of Athens.”
In 1983, the issue of the recognition of the
Catholic Archbishopric of Athens led to an intense discussion. The Orthodox
Church and the then Archbishop of Greece opposed the efforts for recognition
(see more in section 2.3.2.). The special legal counselor of the Church of Greece prepared the legal challenge against the
recognition. To this day it presents the official view of the Greek state.
The present Catholic Archbishop of Athens
Nikolaos, has repeatedly stated that he is willing to help find a solution to
the problem but he is not the one to make the decision. Defiantly, he has
stated, “(…) for 3,000 Catholic
bishops in the world I am the Catholic Archbishop of Athens, as I am for my
following and the diplomatic missions. If the state and the Orthodox Church do
not accept that, then the shame is not mine.” (GHM/MRGG 2000: 37-8)
In the mid-1990s, the issue of recognition of
the ecclesiastical provinces created after 1830 faced new difficulties. These
difficulties came as a result of widespread allegations against the Catholic
Church and the Vatican that they were active participants in the dismemberment of Yugoslavia and in the ensuing conflicts. Another negative
development was the outcome of the internal struggles within the Orthodox
Church of Greece for the succession of Archbishop Serafeim. The newly elected
Archbishop of Athens and Greece, Christodoulos has been one of the
self-proclaimed leaders of the “struggle
against the suspicious role of the Vatican in the Balkans.”
developments have led to the de facto
recognition of all foundations of the Greek Catholic Church. The cause for
these developments was the legal battle of the Catholic Bishopric of Crete
against Greece in
the European Court of Human Rights that ruled in favor of the former (see the
respective paragraph below). The ruling recognized the legal entity of the
Bishopric of Crete, a decision which led the Greek government to pass an
amendment of the July 1999 Law on
Non-Governmental Organizations. This amendment recognized all foundations of
the Catholic Church in Greece as
legal entities, the Catholic Archbishopric of Athens among them. As it will be
discussed below, this amendment still leaves a number of unresolved issues that
may subject it to dubious or vague interpretations. In addition, it does not
clarify the public or civic status of these legal entities and does not give
any specifics about their character. Hence, the issue of the recognition of the
Archbishopric of Athens and its physical head remains open.
2002, the Holy Synod of the Catholic Church of Greece addressed a memorandum to
the Minister of National Education and Religions, Mr. Petros Efthimiou,
concerning the legal personality of the Catholic Church. The Synod notes that
besides the ECHR which recognized the lack of the legal personality of the
Catholic Church of Greece, the President of the Legal Council of the State, Mr.
Papidas, in a letter (no.
10637/286543/4.2.1988) to the competent authorities of the Ministries of
National Education and Religions, Justice and Foreign Affairs pointed out also:
“In the context of the general measures taken to conform to the decisions of
the ECHR it is necessary to make up legally for the existing vacuum concerning
the legal personality of the Holy Churches
of the Catholic Church and to provide a procedure through which a
religious legal personality will be found either using one of the existing
forms of legal personality or as a special religious legal personality with an
organization and an administration conforming to the religious community that
it represents.” But, as the Holy Synod
points out, nothing has been done until today. It calls upon the Minister that
if the Hellenic Republic considers necessary that it respects the decision of
the ECHR and therefore equates its policies on religious liberty with those of
the other states of the EU (…) it should pass a law with the following general
The Catholic Church of Greece,
according to the Constitution a known religion, its administrative
subdivisions, its ecclesiastic institutions and foundations, are legal
ecclesiastic personalities recognized by the lawful order and the conditions of
their administration and operation are governed by its Cannon Law, if
it is not opposed to the provisions concerning the public order of the
The establishment and the operation of the legal ecclesiastical personalities
which will be founded henceforth, are governed by the Canon Law of
the Catholic Church and are sanctioned by the Republic.” The Holy Synod
concludes with the wish that the Minister of National Education and Religions
will take the necessary steps to resolve this issue that reveals a democratic
deficit in the Hellenic Republic,
which is over a century old. (Katholiki, 9/7/2002)
The European Court of Justice decision in
relation to the Catholic Church of Crete: In
June 1987, two citizens who live next to the Bishopric’s Cathedral in Chania
demolished one of the outside walls of the cathedral. They opened a window on
the wall of their building facing the temple. The Church filed a lawsuit in the
Chania courts stating that the Church should be recognized as the owner of the
property and that the court should demand the repair of the damage.
defendants filed a written objection of inadmissibility arguing that the
Catholic Church lacked legal personality in Greece and
that the Catholic Church of Crete could not appear in court as a litigant. The
Catholic Church of Crete replied that it had been founded before 1830 and was,
therefore, recognized according to the London Protocol. The “court of peace” of
Chania recognized that the Church was the owner of the wall and overruled the
objection as unfounded.
The defendants appealed to the first-degree
court of Chania, which ruled, in their favor, that the time of foundation does
not necessarily lead to the acquisition of legal personality (Ruling 212/89).
It stated that other Greek laws and regulation should be formally observed
before the acquisition of legal personality.
Catholic Church of Crete appealed to the Greek Supreme Court entreating that a
number of international and national regulations had been breached: the London
Protocol, the Treaty of Serves (Article 8), the Civil Code (Article 13), the
Greek Constitution (Articles 13 & 20), the European Convention of Human
Rights (Article 9). Despite the endorsement of the Church’s position by the
Supreme Court’s speaker, the appeal was rejected because “the formalities required by Greek law for
the acquisition of legal personality had not been met” (Ruling
360/1994). In fact, the Supreme Court ruled that the Catholic temple had not
been legally constituted according to the regulations of the 1946 Civil Code.
The fact that this was a 16th century temple did not matter.
the court found that there had been a breach of Article 6.1 of the European
Convention of Human Rights, which states that “every entity has the right to defend its case in court that will
decide upon the disputed civil rights and obligations” in conjunction
with Article 14, which states that “the
enjoyment of rights and freedoms should be secured without any discrimination
based on sex, race, color, language, religion, or other difference.”
This conventional violation led to a discriminatory handling of the case in
Greek courts where the actual circumstances of it were not discussed.
the Greek government had to pay compensation of up to GDR 5 mill for material
damages and GDR 5,908,000 for legal expenses.
this decision, the Legal Council of State recommended to the respective
ministries that the legislative vacuum must be covered (10637/286543/4/2/1998).
In this context, the Greek government proceeded with the recognition of the
Catholic foundations as legal entities. Specifically, during the discussion in
Parliament of the law on non-governmental organizations, a relevant amendment
was added. Article 33 reads: “the
institutions of the Catholic Church founded or functioning before the 23rd
of February 1946 are included in the
acting legal entities” (5/7/1999). This amendment gives the Catholic Church the
right to own buildings, functioning or not, and the right to legal
representation in courts. The ambiguity, however, still rests on the status of
the personality of the Church. The issue of whether or not the Catholic Church functions
as a public or private law entity is still open, with all the consequent
problems related to taxation, selling and buying of property, and power of
religious law. As some legal experts representing the Catholic community
believe, the best solution would be the recognition of the Catholic Church, as
well as the other Churches, as legal entities under a special law (Levantis,
2000). On the one hand, this would further secure and protect the freedom of
the Churches’ existence and activity. On the other hand, it would regulate
their public and civil obligations considering, of course, their singular
character in a more lucid manner.
The position of the Catholic Church on the
Greek constitutional reform: On 25 February 1998,
the Legal Council of the Catholic clergy sent a memorandum to the Parliamentary
Committee on Constitutional Reform, scheduled for 2000-2001. It was already
clear that the Committee would not revise the clauses relevant to the relations
between the Catholic Church and the state. Nevertheless, the Legal Council of
the Catholic Church grasped the opportunity and presented its positions on
religious freedom by proposing the revision of Article 13 of the Constitution.
More specifically, the Legal Council asked for the addition of a clause
describing religious freedom to allow every known religion to enjoy the right
to an autonomous constitutional organization. It also asked for the inclusion
of social rights within the spectrum of the rights and freedoms described in
the same article.
Taxation issues: In
February 1997, Law No.
2459 on the Abolishment of Tax Exemptions was passed. The Catholic and other
religious communities did not welcome this law. It obliged all religious
institutions in Greece to
declare their great immovable property so it could be taxed. However, public
law entities, churches, convents and recognized religious communities were
exempt from being taxed for the properties they use. The only religious public
law entities in Greece
belong to the Orthodox Christian community and the Jewish community. This
exempts them from taxation even though the majority of the Orthodox Christian
bishoprics declared their immovable property.
legal status of the Catholic Church has not been clarified yet, so it was
obliged to declare this property. All Catholic ecclesiastical provinces did so,
because if they did not do that, they could not transfer property because the
declaration form is a necessary document for the signing of transfer contracts.
homes, schools and other charitable institutions leased or run by the Catholic
Church were now subject to taxation. The leasing of these properties has
generated enough funds necessary for the medical coverage of the Catholic
clergy and the preservation of churches and convents, and taxation would
greatly diminish these funds.
result, the Catholic Church and social organizations protested to the Ministry
of Finances, the Ministry of the Aegean,
the Parliament and the Prime Minister complaining of this financial
strangulation that the Orthodox Church is exempted. The Catholic Church faced
an additional problem on the islands. A number of arable fields have been
donated to the local Catholic parishes throughout the years without the signing
of contracts or other documents. Since the Catholic Church had to declare
everything accurately, this required knowledge of the size and boundaries of
these fields, information that was missing from the documentation available.
Catholic Church then decided not to submit any declarations and demanded
equality before the law. Some responsible government officials promised to find
a solution to this problem. For a year and a half, all transfers involving the
Catholic Church were suspended. Nevertheless, a solution was found in the new
taxation Law No.
2579/1998. Article 14 of this law reads: “the exemption does not only include the Orthodox Church but also covers
the Roman Catholic Church and the other dogmas as well as the rest known
religions according to the Constitution. This exemption is offered for any
immovable property whether it is privately used or not and this regulation is
passed for reasons of equal constitutional and taxation treatment”.
(GHM/MRGG 2000: 65-66)
Construction of churches and other religious
buildings: One of the most contested laws in Greece is Law No.
1363/1938 that was introduced during the fascist dictatorship of Ioannis
Metaxas and has not been adequately modified to date. It reads: “the
permit of the responsible regional (Orthodox Christian) Metropolitan is required
for the construction of a church belonging to any dogma plus the written
approval of the Ministry of National Education and Religions.”
Council of the State has specified that this “permit” has only recommendation
power and is not binding to the public administration (1444/1991). Until
recently, however, the Ministry of National Education and Religions felt bound
by the usually negative opinion of the respective Metropolitan. The religious
representatives involved would then turn to the Council of the State,
responsible for solving administrative disputes that usually endorsed their
opinion. Only the last two Ministers of Education, George Papandreou and
Gerasimos Arsenis began to issue permits without taking into consideration the
negative opinion of the Metropolitans.
law has victimized the Catholic Church on a number of occasions. In 1958 and in
1960 it won two different cases on church construction in the Greek courts. In
another instance, it constructed a temple without a prior license. The license
was subsequently given to the Church. The refusal of the Metropolitan of Nea
Smyrni Aghathaggelos impeded the Catholic Church from using the chapel inside
the old NATO base of Ellinikon as has been said above (section 2.3.2).
legal experts in Greece
have declared that this law violated the principle of religious freedom and the
free exercise of religious faith. The European Committee of Human Rights and
the European Court of Justice condemned Greece in
a similar case brought to them by the Christian Jehovah’s Witnesses (Decision
No. 59/1995/565/651). The Holy Synod of the Catholic Church and the Union of
Greek Catholics continue to call for the abolishment or change of the
The construction of convents: The
holy convents of the Orthodox Church are public law entities and are founded
following a presidential decree that endorses the respective proposal submitted
by the Minister of National Education and Religions, the local Metropolitan and
the recommendation of the Holy Synod.
the Catholic convents that were founded before the introduction of the 1946
Civil Code, two questions were raised periodically. The first question was
whether they are legal entities constituted in conformity with the law and
whether they are national or foreign legal entities. The law has clarified
their status and the fact that they are present and active in Greece
makes them Greek legal entities. The second question is related to those
convents founded after 1946 or the ones that will be founded in the future. The
Greek state has not yet clarified the issue and supports the view that these
convents should function according to the regulations on foundations. The
Catholic Church replies to that by saying that convents are not foundations,
they are subject to the Church’s internal religious law and special regulations
should be introduced. (GHM/MRGG 2000: 66-69)
The right to religious education:
According to Greek law, the Greek Ministry of National Education and Religions
is responsible for issuance permits for the foundation of religious and
clerical schools of any dogma or religion. It is also responsible for
monitoring them. The Catholic Church asks for a new regulation that would
endorse what is specified for the Orthodox Church. That is, the Catholic Church
should be allowed to found special ecclesiastical schools that will cover its
needs for clerical staff. Of course, it clarifies that their foundation,
organization and function would be in accordance with the internal religious
law and the law of the state.
The teaching of divinity to Catholic pupils: Many
countries around the world do not offer classes on divinity. In some countries
this is an optional course, where either the parents declare their will for
their children to attend the course in the lower grades, or the pupils are free
to opt for it in the higher grades (e.g. Italy).
divinity education is compulsory. It is different from the compulsory course
that is taught in other countries such as Britain,
where the course studies all major religions that exist in the country. In Greece, it
has the character of religious catechism.
issue of the compulsory teaching of divinity to non-Orthodox Christian pupils
has been gradually resolved. Now pupils have the right to be exempt. Some
problems still face the Christian Jehovah’s Witnesses, although the same
regulations officially apply to them. Pupils that have been baptized as
Orthodox Christians have the right --with their parents’ consent-- to be
exempted as well. A recent decision of the Council of the State ratified the
right of exemption from divinity education, from the compulsory participation
of masses specially organized for schools, and from the Morning Prayer. Only a
simple statement signed by the pupil or his/her parents is required for the
1985 Law No.
1566 allows the teaching of divinity to a substantial number of pupils
belonging to other religions by teachers who have completed their secondary
education in Greece and
hold a divinity degree from foreign universities recognized in Greece.
This regulation came as a result of the strong pressure put by the Catholic
community, especially from Syros. In
1983, some 8,000 Catholic and Orthodox Christian inhabitants of the island
echoed the demand that Catholic children should have the right to attend the
divinity course just like the Orthodox Christian ones. Catholic teachers of
divinity were not appointed in the island’s schools due to another obstacle
posed by a local Orthodox Metropolitan. The Ministry of National Education and
Religions was suspected of endorsing the Metropolitan’s view. After its initial
response to the demand, the Ministry claimed that it was going to look
carefully into the matter. The Ministry also stated that due to the lack of
relevant legal regulations, other dogmas and religions may ask for the same
rights once the precedent is set. In the end, however, Catholic teachers of
divinity were appointed in Syros and
the Catholic schools that function under the administration of monastic orders,
the divinity course is taught by specialist monks or priests. (GHM/MRGG 2000:
The problem on the appointment of Catholic
teachers in primary and nursery schools: This problem suddenly arose
in the late 1980s when the Ministry of National Education and Religions refused
to appoint new teachers belonging to the Catholic community in primary and
nursery schools. This was a surprise for the Greek Catholics because they had
never before faced discrimination on educational matters (see details below in
6.5.1. Nursery School and Primary Education).
core of the problem was the apparent conflict that a Catholic teacher would
have with the teaching of the Orthodox Christian divinity lesson that is
compulsory according to the curriculum. The Ministry of National Education and
Religions tried to present this decision as implementation of the respective
legal custom. The Council of State issued only one related decision, a 1949 one
on the appointment of a Jehovah’s Witness teacher. The Catholic community had
never faced a similar problem before. Therefore, the Ministry decided to
proceed to a governmental regulation allowing the appointment of Catholic
teachers in nursery and multi-seated primary schools where other teachers
following the Orthodox Christian religion could teach classes on divinity.
the meantime, the Catholic teachers that were excluded from the appointment’s
list challenged the Ministry’s decision at the Administrative Court of Appeals.
The Court issued two different decisions. It accepted that the refusal to
appoint Catholics in nursery schools was anti-constitutional (Decision
2703/1987). However, the same Court, with the same judges, endorsed the
position of the Ministry of National Education and Religions ruling that
Catholic teachers could not be appointed to teach Orthodox Christian divinity
(2704/87). The court included in its decision the opinion that arrangements
should be made for the appointment of members of other religions in
multi-seated schools to undertake the teaching of divinity.
the Ministry came up with a solution presented in Article 16 of Law No.
1771/1998. In this law the following are regulated:
Nursery school and primary school candidate teachers belonging to religions
other than Orthodox Christianity can be appointed to public multi-seated
primary schools and two-seated nurseries if they have the necessary
The teachers appointed according to the above paragraph will not teach divinity
to pupils other than the ones who belong to the same religion as their own.
The appointment of teachers of other dogmas and religions can go ahead in
one-seated public schools when pupils belonging to the same dogma or religion
are educated there.
last paragraph was added after the Catholic youth, student, and scientist
organizations filed a motion to the Greek Parliament noting the presence of
one-seated schools in Catholic villages of Syros and
schools are the ones that have all six grades of primary education with an
adequate number of teachers; one-seated, two-seated and so on, are the schools
with very few pupils, so all pupils are stacked together in classes holding
lessons for different grades simultaneously.
Foundation and housing of Catholic schools: The
Catholic Church, through the monastic orders or the ecclesiastical provinces,
runs a number of schools in Greece.
These schools have developed a very good reputation even among the Orthodox
Christian population. Many Orthodox Christian parents send their kids to study
in these schools.
schools were founded in accordance with Article 8 of the Treaty of Serves. They
operate in accordance with specific clauses of the Constitution such as Article
13.1 on religious freedom, Article 13.2 on the prohibition of proselytism,
Article 16.2 on the purpose of education, and Article 16.8 on the freedom of
general, the state allows the foundation of schools by individuals that are
Greek citizens, or legal entities that meet the necessary requirements
described by the law. The issue of the lack of legal personality of many
Catholic institutions, however, may cause problems regarding the operation of
these schools. In addition, Law No.
682/1977 prohibits clerics to own schools. Many Members of Parliament have
criticized this regulation. The Catholic Church has asked for the abolition of
the regulation in a memorandum sent to the Ministry of National Education and
Religions. The Ministry replied that the regulation does not prohibit clerics
from getting involved in education but prohibits only their ownership of
is illegal in Greece
according to Article 193 of the Penal Code. There has never been any accusation
by Orthodox Christian pupils studying in Catholic schools that they were
victims of proselytism. In the meantime, the Catholic Church has asked for the
abolition of Article 3.2 of Law No.
1784/39. This article, in its effort to tackle proselytism in schools, reads
that “the foundation, operation and
housing of a Greek private school is prohibited in areas and buildings where
foreign schools operate, or schools that belong to non-Greek legal entities or
foundations that do not belong to the Greek Orthodox dogma.” The Catholic Church believes that
this regulation offends its prestige in Greece and
its freedom to own and operate schools.
Foundation of charitable institutions: The
Catholic Church has faced a number of problems regarding its right to found
charitable institutions. These problems are, of course, related to the bigger
problem of the Church’s legal status. The Catholic charitable institutions are
governed by the Civil Code regulations regarding the foundation and operation
of institutions and the regulations regarding Orthodox Christian foundations.
Religious foundations, however, are not exclusively recognized on the basis of
their actual property but on the basis of the exercise of rights according to
the purpose for which they were founded.
Catholic Church has demanded the recognition of its foundations as public legal
entities just as the Orthodox Christian ones. This would mean that their
foundation and operation would not be governed by the Civil Code regulations on
Problems of the Catholic clergy and the members
of monastic orders: Three main legal problems concern the servants
of the Catholic Church. First, the issue of securing residence permits for
those who are not citizens of the European Union. Second, the issue concerning
the habit worn by the Catholic clerics of the Eastern Rite. Third, concerning
the payment that the Catholic religious servants should receive for their work.
first issue is still governed by a 1938 regulation (Article 12/1363/1938). This
regulation demands that all foreign clerics should obtain permission for
entrance from the Ministry of National Education and Religions. Some prominent
legal experts in Greece
have noted that this regulation is unconstitutional because it poses restrictions
on persons who are on a religious mission, therefore violating their freedom of
religion. In addition, Law No.
1975/91 on the entrance and exit of foreign workers and refugees creates
problems to the Catholic Church. Many of its servants, especially in the
convents, are not European Union citizens, so they have to renew their
residence permits as many times as the law allows them to. Two Catholic nuns
(from Croatia and
and a Franciscan monk from Chile who
have been living in Greece for
a substantial amount of time faced the danger of expulsion.
problem was resolved in February 1994 due to the outrage that the imminent
expulsion of Mother Theresa’s sisters caused. These six nuns from Poland, Switzerland, India, Slovenia and
submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs all the necessary documents plus a
certificate from the Catholic Archbishopric that it provides them with food and
residence. However, the Ministry asked them to leave the country. Their leader,
sister Grace from Switzerland,
complained to her embassy after the verbal abuse that she allegedly suffered
from policemen at the Police Station for Aliens. The issue reached the French
News Agency that gave it international publicity.
Minister of Public Order at the time, Mr. Stelios Papathemelis, replied that
the nuns were simply asked to return to their countries and obtain new visas
from the Greek consulate authorities there in order to comply with the
requirements of the law. The fact is that nuns do not have any kind of property
or enough money to cover their travel expenses. In the end, due to the
publicity of the issue the permits were renewed and the nuns stayed in Greece. A
final solution to the problem is still pending.
second issue is related to the regulations that govern the operation of the
Orthodox Church. The Constitutional Chart of the Church of
reads: “those who do not have or have
lost the capacity of the cleric of the Eastern Orthodox Church are not allowed
to wear the attire or garments of the cleric of this Church. The non-Orthodox
monks are not allowed to wear the attire of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Offenders of these regulations will be prosecuted according to Article 176 of
the Penal Code” (Law No.
Catholic Church sent a memorandum to the Parliament when this law was
discussed, noting that the same attire had been worn by the Catholic clerics of
the Eastern Rite for centuries. This is the practice all over the world,
including in Islamic states, and the priests are not prosecuted. The Catholic
Church demanded, and still does, the abolition of the above regulation.
should be noted that this issue was first raised in 1930. The Ministry of
National Education and Religions had issued a directive prohibiting the clerics
of the Catholic Church of the Eastern Rite from wearing the habit of the
Orthodox Christian clergy (No. 55247). Catholic priests turned to the Council
of the State that ruled in their favor (195/1931). In the meantime, however,
the Ministry of National Education and Religions had sought the assistance of
the Ministries of Internal Affairs and Justice in the implementation of the
above directive. The result of this action was the arrest of father Petros
Ioannou who was charged with contempt and unlawful use of the Orthodox
Christian habit in order to achieve illicit benefits. Fortunately, the court
acquitted the cleric and saved Greece
from an international outrage.
last issue troubling the Catholic Church is related to the financial compensation
for the work of nuns, monks and others. This issue was initially raised in 1970
and the courts got involved. The Orthodox Christian clerics are paid a monthly
salary for the pastoral and other services they offer. This does not apply to
the priests of other religions or dogmas. Around the world, Catholic clerics
are not given salaries on a monthly basis. What happens, however, is that the
respective national governments, after considering the financial ability of the
local parishes, create common funds that cover the needs of the clerics.
to the internal religious law of the Catholic Church, the clerics used to be
given property belonging to the Church. The financial returns on the property
covered the needs of the clerics. Since the Catholic Church does not receive
state grants consistently, it asks the Greek government to refrain from
intervening in the handling of its property. However, there was such an
intervention in Corfu.
The Catholic clergy on the island had been the owner of a large agricultural
property given to the Church by Venetians centuries ago. Before their
unification with mainland Greece,
the Senate of the Ionian Islands
expropriated this property. The Senate had promised in a legal act to pay the
Catholic clerics an annual fee as compensation. This act was included in the
extension of the London Protocol after the union of the Eptanisa with Greece.
time passed, the Greek state considerably diminished this amount. The clerics
from Corfu sought redress in the Greek
justice system. In 1973, the Supreme Court which ruled in the Church’s favor,
accepting the act of the Senate as internal Greek law. (GHM/MRGG 2000: 70-5)
Family law issues: These
issues are very important for the survival of any religious community. It has
been said above that mixed marriages helped the survival of Catholicism in the Cyclades.
Today, the most serious problems are related to mixed marriages, the religious
orientation of children and custody over the children in case of divorce.
the foundation of the modern Greek state, the issue of mixed marriages has been
the object of tense discussions. The first relevant law demanded that the
marriage should take place in an Orthodox Christian church and that the
children should be baptized accordingly (1861). The second law allowed
marriages to be held at any venue, but still recognized the superiority of the
Orthodox Christian religious law (1861).
cases have shown different attitudes of legal interpretation. Between 1840 and
1860, all marriages administered by Catholic priests were declared void. In
1861, courts began to accept mixed marriages administered by Catholic priests.
Sometimes the authorities required the written permission of the local Orthodox
Christian bishop, other times they required the performance of an additional
Orthodox Christian marriage, while on other occasions they considered the
Catholic service good enough. This difference of opinion appeared in Supreme
Court rulings as well. Department A had ruled that an Orthodox Christian
marriage was obligatory while department B did not require that. The body of
the Court solved the dispute in 1932 by endorsing the first opinion.
1946 Civil Code included the above ruling and recognized religious marriage as
the only legitimate marriage, ruling out the civil one. Before the final
introduction of civil marriage in 1982, Article 1367 of the Civil Code demanded
that Orthodox Christian priests perform mixed marriages. This regulation led to
a practice that is unique to Greece.
Mixed couples have two options – an Orthodox Christian ceremony recognized by
the Catholic Church, or two different ceremonies at both churches. Mixed
couples prefer the latter option. Since 1982, Greeks are not required to marry
according to the Orthodox Christian ritual, but the practice has stayed since
the vast majority of Greeks still opt for religious marriages. The Catholic
Church accepts this practice that was initially necessary due to the Greek
peculiarities, although now it can ask for an end to it since a religious
mystery cannot be performed twice according to Catholic religious law. It has
chosen, however, not to alienate anyone. The only requirement is for the couple
to be married first in accordance with the Catholic ritual.
other major issue in mixed marriages is the religious orientation of the
children that will be born. The Orthodox Christian Church of Greece
demands that children from mixed marriages be baptized Orthodox Christian and
has issued a relevant directive (19/4/1977).
This position has not been endorsed by the state but it certainly shows the
attitude of the Orthodox Church to something that should stay in the realm of
courts have tried cases where children change their religion after the divorce
of their parents. According to the Civil Code the courts are responsible for
deciding who will gain custody of the children after divorce. The Catholic
Church thinks that whether the parent wants the children to change their
religion and whether priests will accept to re-baptize already baptized
children should be a religious matter that the courts do not intervene in.
(GHM/MRGG 2000: 75-6)
The issue on the appointment of Catholics in
the armed forces: As mentioned above, the Catholic Archbishop of Athens
complained in 1999 that Catholic Greeks are not accepted to join the army, the
police, the Foreign Service and other sensitive areas of the administration.
Some Catholics reportedly conceal their faith in order to have access to such
posts. The Ministry of the Interior, Administration and Decentralization has
stated that entry in the administration was subject, inter alia, on the requirement of Greek citizenship and not on any
religious criteria. The Ministry specified that the law precluded any
discriminatory treatment and that in practice such behavior was penalized. The
Ministry of Defense emphasized, on the one hand, that there was no legal
obstacle to the admission of religious minorities, including Catholics, to the
army, and, on the other hand, that no distinction on the basis of religion was
made within the structures of the army or under military law. (GHM/MRGG 2000:
The issue of the compulsory entry of religion
on the identity cards: The compulsory entry of an individual’s
religion on the identity cards has been a matter of heated debate. It has
nothing to do with the official legal status of the Catholic Church and the
respective community in Greece.
Nevertheless, this affects any religious minority and Orthodox Christian
individual who do not want to state their religious beliefs to any public
compulsory entry of religion was introduced by the Nazis as a way of
identifying the Jewish population of Greece, a
measure that later proved fatal. However, opting to write “Orthodox Christian”
saved some Jews. Nevertheless, its introduction and its later use aimed at
identifying the non-Orthodox Christian, hence, the “non-Greek” elements of
society that did not fit in the “Hellenic-Orthodox Christian” civilization and
its right-wing nationalist statehood. Another measure that helped the
“recognition” of an individual in the quasi-police state that followed the end
of the Civil War (1944-1949) was to have his/her fingerprints on the document.
the European Union, Greece is
the only member that demanded till recently (2001) from its citizens to declare
their religious beliefs; more so, it obliged them to have it written on their
identity cards. The European Parliament has condemned Greece for
this practice and asked for its change twice. First, the European Parliament
expressed its disappointment with the Greek government’s insistence to maintain
this practice since it is an “impediment
towards individual liberty” (21/1/1993). Second, it asked Greece to
“finally modify the current legal regulations
towards the abolishment of any kind of entry, even voluntary, on the new Greek
identity cards without succumbing to pressures put forward by the Orthodox
Hierarchy and the extreme nationalist zeal that is developing in Greece” (22/4/93).
debate began in December 1992 and gained much publicity. Many constitutional
experts expressed the view that the compulsory entry is against the
Constitution. The Minister of Internal Affairs at the time, Mr. Ioannis
Kefaloyiannis, tried to pass an amendment in Parliament that would abolish the
compulsory entry of religion (6/4/93).
However, many MPs from his own party, the conservative New Democracy, and from
the socialist PASOK, in joint efforts with the Orthodox Church, opposed the
amendment. This opposition was so strong that the amendment was withdrawn
without a parliamentary vote.
compulsory entry remained even after the law on the new identity cards passed
by the New Democracy government in November 1991. The issuance of new identity
cards, however, was suspended for a whole decade. The man behind this law was
the 1991 Minister of the Interior, Mr. Nikolaos Klitos, who, after the
withdrawal of the 1993 amendment, declared that he felt justified because the
legal and constitutional experts (that found the practice unconstitutional) “were detached from the Greek reality and
what is expressed through the deep religious feeling of the people”
An unexpected solution to this problem was
found in May 2000, a month after the latest Greek elections. The new Minister
of Justice, Professor Michalis Stathopoulos, a known supporter of civil society
and of the formal separation between Church and State, gave an interview to an Athens’ newspaper, upon the resumption of his new
duties. In the interview he repeated his belief that the entry of religion on
the identity cards should be abolished. This statement was widely covered by
the electronic media, which were certain that this matter would provoke a
heated debate that would ensure many hours of prime time viewing. Indeed, the
Minister’s statement generated a storm of reactions by religious and
para-religious circles with well-known views about the Greek national and
religious ‘purity,’ and by politicians who continuously fish for votes in these
segments of the population. Catholic representatives were asked by the media to
state their opinion on the issue and were met with unfriendly and obscurantist
remarks by the other side (Gasparakis, 2000).
Authority on the Protection of Personal Data, established after the 1997
passing of the related law 2472/1997, decided to intervene. Its President, Mr.
Konstantinos Dafermos, a Supreme Court judge, decided that the authority should
convene and discuss the matter. The members of the Authority, after taking into
consideration the clauses of the Greek Constitution, the international treaties
and conventions signed by Greece and
the 1997 law on the protection of the individual from personal data processing,
came up with a landmark decision.
members decided that the entry of religion on identity cards as well as of
other elements of personal choice (name of spouse, residence, profession) were
either illegal (such as the nationality and the fingerprints). After this
development, the government, through the Minister of Justice and the Prime
Minister Konstantinos Simitis, endorsed the decision. The decision of the
Authority was binding to the government and the Prime Minister declared that he
would soon proceed with its implementation. The Minister of Public Order with a
new decision that was distributed to all the authorities involved in the
issuance of identity cards (8200/0-441210, FEK B’ 879/17.7.2000) specified the
information to be registered in identity cards would be: first and last name, father’s and mother’s names, birth date, birth
place, height, municipal roll, date of issue, issuance authority.
Orthodox Church declared an unyielding struggle against the decision and many
politicians that like to exploit the public’s religious sentiments for political
gain have sided with it. Members of the Orthodox Church, and even the
Archbishop himself, have condemned the government’s decision as “autarchic” and
a “coup.” The Orthodox Christian clergy states that its defense of the decision
is an effort to protect the Greek national and religious identity from the
encroachment of European and global assimilation. The Holy Synod of the
Orthodox Church also ignored the opinion of its own Legal Experts’ Committee
who agreed with the ruling of the Authority and advised the Church not to
challenge the decision legally (2/6/2000).
In response to the Committee’s advice, the Holy Synod announced the
organization of mass demonstrations in Athens and
the next step in its efforts to revoke the government’s decision (6/6/2000).
government, however, restated that the issue was closed and that it was willing
to discuss with the Orthodox Church other issues related to the separation
between the Church and the State that are also challenged for their undemocratic
character (the compulsory religious naming through baptism, the compulsory
religious funeral, the compulsory religious oath, and the compulsory teaching
of Orthodox Christian divinity at schools).
6. AVAILABILITY OF
EDUCATION FOR THE MINORITY
As G. Sotirelis remarks in
his study on Religion and Education,
the most important consequence of the peculiar local ideology of the so-called
“Hellenic Christian civilization” is
in the interweaving of religion and education.
The way in which religious dogmas influence the pedagogical orientation
of the educational system is by definition affiliated to the right of self-determination of one’s conscience. And he
explains further, religious education in
our country has traditionally a directional character. It is firstly monophonic, because it concentrates
mainly on the dogmas, the teachings and the morals of the “prevailing
religion”, but also it excludes from the teaching staff – fully or partly – the
non-orthodox ones. Secondly, it indoctrinates since it does not aim in
the transmission of religious knowledge but at the dogmatic enforcement of
faith in a predetermined system of dogmatic principles. Finally, it is also, obligatory for all students who have not
been declared by their parents as heterodox, that is, all students who are
presumed – because of baptism- as Christian orthodox. (Sotirelis, italics in
the original 1993: 23-4) In other words in Greek public schools the Orthodox
Church may practice “proselytism” (this is also done in many other public spaces
where one sees church officials along with other public authorities)
unhindered, precisely because one is born Greek Orthodox and because one of the
functions the Orthodox Church is catechism of its brethren. It should be added
that though in theory religious education is not obligatory for heterodox
students who can be exempted, even today in many public schools in Greece, students of
heterodox families find themselves attending instruction on the orthodox
dogma. This is why in its concluding
observations the Committee of the Rights of the Child, in its report on Greece,
expressed “its concern at reports of administrative and social pressures being
placed on children from religious minorities including, for example, the
requirement that a student's secondary school graduation certificate indicates,
where this is the case, that the student does not practice the Greek Orthodox
religion. (…) The Committee recommends that the State party ensure that a
child's religious affiliation, or lack of, in no way hinders respect for the
child’s rights, including the right to non-discrimination and to privacy, for
example in the context of information included in the school graduation
certificate.” (CRC, 2002)
6.1. Brief history of the system of education
in relation to the minority
On the subject of religious education within
the school system, the private schools of the Catholic Church (12 Catholic
schools with some 10,000 pupils, mainly of the Orthodox Christian faith, and
fewer than 1,000 Catholic pupils) teach the Catholic religion to pupils of that
faith (for the Catholic Schools see section 4.1.1 and 4.1.2). In the state
schools on the islands of Siros and Tinos, where 85 per cent of Greek Catholics live,
Catholic teaching is provided by priests or lay people. Problems are said to
arise sometimes in connection with the creation of posts for Catholic teachers
(see Section 5.2).
6.2. Availability of teaching material for the
According to the representatives of the
Catholic Church, a Greek Orthodox Christian education focusing exclusively on
the Orthodox Christian religion and the Greek nation has come into existence to
the detriment of all religious minorities in Greece. For that reason, it is generally believed
that only Orthodox Christians are true Greeks. Thus, the Catholic Church and
its spiritual head, the Pope, are allegedly portrayed in a negative light in
school textbooks, particularly in history books. Greek textbooks are seen as
being, as it were, permeated by Orthodox thinking. Nevertheless, according to
non-governmental observers, appreciable progress has been made recently, in
particular through the publication of textbooks on the history of religions and
their philosophy, which incorporate fairly satisfactory chapters on religions
other than Orthodox Christianity.
6.3. Official position
6.4. Activists’ initiatives
6.5. Present situation in different levels
6.5.1. Nursery school and primary education
The problem with the appointment of teachers in
primary and nursery schools: The Catholic community, in
contrast to other religious minorities in Greece,
has never faced problems in relation to the appointment of teachers to its
schools. This excludes divinity teachers because Orthodox theologians do the
teaching of divinity in Greek schools. The first time there were problems with
teacher appointment was in 1987-1988 when the Ministry of National Education
and Religions, under the leadership of the late Antonis Tritsis, refused to
appoint Catholic teachers of any subject (history, geography, etc.) in Syros and
reactions against the decision were very intense, especially from the leftist
parties. Even the conservative MP from the Cyclades and
the government’s Minister for the Aegean
tried to find a solution to this unexpected problem. The pressure from both the
Catholic and the Orthodox Christian inhabitants of Syros,
the Catholic organizations, the Greek and foreign press was constant.
Ministry’s decision was challenged in the Greek courts but the outcome did not
really satisfy the Catholic community (see section 5.2 Legal Situation
Present). According to the decision and the government regulation that
followed, members of the Catholic community can be appointed to nursery schools
but not to public primary schools. The reason for this discrimination is that
the teacher in a primary school has to teach divinity, a compulsory lesson in
the curriculum that reproduces the teaching of the Orthodox Christian
tradition. Only in multi-seated primary schools (schools with the normal six
grades of primary education and a substantial number of teachers) can Catholics
be appointed because other Orthodox teachers appointed there can undertake the
teaching of Orthodox Christian divinity. If, however, pupils of the same
denomination as the candidate teacher comprise the classes, as is the case in Syros,
the appointment can go ahead.
regulation has solved this particular problem for the Catholic teachers but not
for the other religious minorities whose members are denied the right to work
not only in public schools but also in the private preparatory schools. As for
the teachers that initially faced this problem in 1987-1988, they stayed out of
the appointment list for two years effectively losing substantial income.
(GHM/MRGG 2000: 69-71)
6.5.2. Secondary education
6.5.3. Higher education and research
7. COMMUNICATION AND AUDIOVISUAL MEDIA
7.1. Legal situation
“Newsletter (Deltio) of the Holy Synod of the
Catholic Hierarchy,” published twice a year by the Secretariat of the Holy
“Katholiki” a bimonthly newspaper
published by the Greek Catholic Exarchate
“Enoriakes Kampanes” a monthly newspaper
of the Catholics of Syros
“Tiniaka Minimata” a monthly paper of
the Catholics of Tinos
“Anoihtoi Orizontes” a monthly journal
published by the Jesuit fathers of Athens
“Synhrona Vimata” a quarterly review
published by the Jesuit fathers of Athens
· Radio “Pisti kai Politismos” transmitting only
Catholic archbishoprics and bishoprics have established channels for online
The Catholic Church comprises one of the
largest traditional religious minorities in the country with almost 50,000
members. The Catholic community comprises mainly Greeks from the Cycladic
islands in the Aegean, especially from Syros and Tinos. The
1990s have seen an increase in the number of non-Greek Catholics who have come
to Greece because of marriage and, more importantly,
immigration from Eastern
Europe, Asia and Africa. The Holy Synod of the Catholic Church in Greece estimates the number of Catholics living
permanently in Greece to over 200,000 people. The majority of them are new immigrants, some
of whom lack even residence permits, though this situation is progressively
changing with the new process of legalization through the issuance of green
cards to all immigrants who have employment in Greece. Caritas and other charitable organizations
and monastic orders look after the immigrants and try to cover their many needs
including helping them to obtain the necessary documents for legalization and
to a widely accepted view, Catholic communities in Greece
sprung after the fall of Constantinople to
the Crusaders and the arrival of Venetian and Genovese rule. This, however, is
not accurate since Catholic communities have lived in today’s Greece
long before the arrival of the Franks. Most Catholics have a Greek origin as
their language, family line, and participation in the Greek struggle for
independence and in the two World Wars indicate. The foreign surnames that some
have are attributed to the fact that the Venetians demanded that all their
subjects have such surnames. Many Greeks in these parts chose to adopt the
surname of their local ruler, whether Orthodox Christian or Catholic, and some
freely opted to follow Catholicism. Relations between Catholics and Orthodox
Christians have always been good especially on the islands. Mixed marriages are
Catholic Church was somewhat victimized by the Greek national mythology, turned
into an official ideology in the late 19th and the beginning of the
20th centuries, which equates “Hellenism” with Orthodox
Christianity. The official relationship between the state and the Orthodox Church
enshrined in the Constitution has provided the ground for the passing of
legally-based discriminatory practices against the Catholic community.
of the laws against religious freedom were introduced during the years of the
fascist regime of Ioannis Metaxas (1936-1941). This regime epitomized the
ideology of the “Hellenic-Orthodox Christian civilization.” The numerous civil
laws presented throughout this report have not been questioned by any Greek
government for fear of enraging the Orthodox Christian leadership and its
followers who dominate public opinion. Therefore, despite the official
recognition of the Catholic Church in a number of treaties and the recognition
of the right to religious freedom in the Greek Constitution, the Catholic community
has to defend itself in courts against religious discrimination. In the last
decade of the 20th century, the Catholic Church has had to deal with
numerous political defamatory attacks from the clerical and political followers
of the Hellenic-Orthodox Christian nationalist ideology.
the ambiguous position of the Greek Orthodox Church towards the Catholic Church
one must consider the longtime opposition of the Orthodox Church to the Pope’s
wish to visit Greece. Following an open invitation from the
President of the Hellenic Republic on 7 March 2001 the Church of Greece finally
acquiesced to the Pope’s pilgrimage to Athens, “despite any reservations which they justifiably could have to the
realization of such a visit…[because the visit] is not contemptuous or
disparaging of the historical memory still alive in this land…” Clearly this acquiescence was the
result of the fact that the Holy See had accepted almost all terms for the
Papal visit that was eventually realized in May of the same year. (Levantis,
Greece’s participation in
the European Union and various other international organizations, as well as
the active struggle of civil society organizations have created favorable soil
for debate and opposition to intolerance towards other religious communities
including the Catholic community. The 2000 governmental initiative to abolish
the entry of religion on the Greek identity cards is a sign of changing
attitudes. However, further steps towards the complete separation between the state
and the Orthodox Church is needed so that the Catholics and other religious
minorities in Greece can
enjoy religious freedom. As the European Commission against Racism and
Intolerance (ECRI) recommended in its 2nd Report on Greece, “important efforts are still required for the
full enjoyment from the minority religious groups of religious freedom and for
the promotion of a climate of tolerance” (2000).
One important aspect
in this process is the attitude of the Orthodox Christian clergy and the large
fanatic segment within the Greek society that abhors anything different,
non-Greek-speaking and non-Orthodox Christian. The recent mobilization of the
Orthodox Christian following led by Archbishop Christodoulos against the
abolition of the entry of religion on the identity cards proves the excessive
ideological and political influence that the Church has on Greek society. This
influence, unfortunately, has created a spirit of intolerance in the erstwhile
friendly and entertaining Greek culture. This influence entails the cultivation
of a spirit of uneasiness among the population that feels threatened of being
consumed by other cultures and identities.
The ECRI report commented
that the Greek society is hesitant to recognize its new multicultural reality
that has been created through the influx of hundreds of thousands of immigrants
from Asia, Africa and
(2000). Therefore, carefully designated steps are needed on behalf of the
government in order to create a climate that would gradually prepare Greek
society to accept its position in a multicultural Europe and
the world. This is certainly needed because the Church-led reaction to
multiculturalism finds breeding ground within the system of public
George Sotirelis notes that relations between
the state and the church in Greece have progressively developed, through mutual
clientelist dependencies and bondages, into a kind of inextricable
state-religious power web that fights against tolerance and religious
difference; religious liberty often is brought under a peculiar state of
tutelage, sometimes it is even made a hostage, depending on the danger of the
“heterodox” opponent. (Sotirelis, 1999:22-3) In this context one can understand
why, as the National Committee of Human Rights (NCHR) reports that, out of the
69 rulings on Greece by the ECHR, 16 concern religious
issues. (2001: 95)
The consequences of this
phenomenon was noted also by the Ombudsman in his annual report in a very
critical passage where he reports that: “in
matters of religious freedom, the Ombudsman faced a distrustful administration,
which, following occasionally respective intolerant trends of the society, was
unable to come to terms with the fact some Greek citizens are entitled to hold
religious beliefs other than the ones of the majority… the reaction of local
elected authorities and religious officials was so absolute and intense that
forced the respective authorities in actions or omissions that could
compromise the international prestige of
the country…” (1999: 77-78). This critique manifests the gravity of the
problem and highlights the need for more urgent measures that have to be taken
in order to change the situation. One can only hope that the new millennium and
the gradual and more effective participation of Greece in
international and multi-cultural organizations will change the climate in favor
of tolerance and acceptance of religious, linguistic and ethno-national
The central position held by the Eastern Orthodox religion as a sign of
Greekness, the legal foundations of the Greek Orthodox Church and its symbiotic
relation with the state, as well as the remaining limitations on religious
freedom of religious minorities, testify the exclusion of Greece from the
secular powers of the Enlightenment and the fundamental principles of most
Western European states. (Pollis 1999: 192)
According to the National
Human Rights Committee (NHRC) it is necessary that the legal framework of Greece be changed to
correspond with the content of the Manousakis
and others judgement (25/09/1996) of the ECHR. It
is known, continues the report, that no other West European constitution or
legislative text contains provisions forbidding proselytism. Finally, it is
clear that the notion of an “heretic” has no legal meaning in the human rights
law, given every person’s liberty to believe in any dogma or religion s/he
chooses and to be an atheist, equally to change his religious beliefs or to
express them as s/he chooses. Therefore it would be imperative that the state abolishes
all provisions concerning proselytism and creates a new context for the
protection of citizens, which is in conformity with contemporary reality
and needs. Finally, on the subject of he construction and operation of places
of worship, the report recommends the abolition of article 1§1 and 3 of the Royal Decree 20/2.6.1939, that defines the conditions
for issuance by the Minister of National Education and Religions the required
permit. The NCHR concludes suggesting that only a permit from the urban
planning authorities should be required for the construction and the operation
of places of worship, which should be obtained on the basis of respect for the
principle of equality in the exercise of religious liberty. (NHRC, 2001: 101)
Similarly the Ombudsman of
Greece in his annual 2001 report notes on the issue of freedom of religion and
belief that the legal framework regulating the regime of churches and places of
worship of religious communities other than of the prevailing religion,
contains provisions whose implementation may bring about inequalities that do
not conform with the Constitution and the European Convention for Human Rights.
In the Legal, Operational and
Organizational Recommendations report the Ombudsman recommends that Law no
1363/1938, 1369/1938 and 1672/1939 as well as the Royal Decree of
20.5/2.6.1939, concerning construction and operation of places of worship are
revised to remove from the authorities providing permits every possibility of
evaluating subjectively the “real need”
of these places. The Ombudsman acknowledges that the real cause of the problem is found
in the existing legislative framework that regulates the permission of the
operation of places of worship with such an obvious suspiciousness against all
religions except the prevailing one, confining public administration in the
conception that religious belief must go through more and more rigorous control
in comparison with other human activities.
The report reminds us that to a similar conclusion has arrived the European Court for Human Rights
in its judgment 26.09.1996 (Manoussakis
and others vs. Greece). “The Greek state uses the possibilities made
available by these provisions in a way to impose strict and prohibitive
preconditions to some non-orthodox religions in the exercise of their
beliefs.” Thus, the Ombudsman
recommends bringing the construction and operation of places of worship
strictly under the control of urban planning and construction authorities.
Finally in the same report, concerning religious education, the Ombudsman
explains that the state’s obligation to exempt heterodox students from
attending the course of religion is not limited in the “administrative”
exemption and examination from this course, but it must extend to the full
distancing of those students from the classroom. When these students remain in the classroom,
given their malleability due to their youth, this could take even the dimension
of state imposed proselytism, since it is de facto impossible the “abstention”
of a minor from auditing during instruction that takes place in the same
classroom. (Synigoros, 2001)
The relations between the Greek state and the Eastern Orthodox Church of
Greece have been of concern, followed by several studies that are critical of
their ambiguous symbiosis and interdependence, by an important number of
eminent constitutionalists and other academics along with a small number of
politicians who have reiterated their criticism publicly. Besides, the high
number of convictions of Greece by the ECHR on cases concerning violation of
freedom of religion and belief has forced state institutions to reconsider and
reevaluate the present legislative order concerning religious freedom and
belief. There has been a plethora of discussions, debates, conferences and publications
on this issue, which, nevertheless, has failed to produce a public debate that
would prepare the public opinion for important constitutional and legislative
revisions transforming state-church relations.
Apparently, the pressure posed upon the political world by the
spokespersons and representatives of the Orthodox Church have overruled any
acknowledgement that Greece ought to found an unambiguously secular modern
constitutional provisions concerning religious freedom, affecting, in particular,
the participation of the Greek Orthodox Church in the organization of power and
its relationship with minority beliefs and forms of worship do not seem to be
the subject of any revision. In 1996, following a meeting with the Greek
Orthodox authorities, the representatives of the Commission for the revision of
the constitution apparently stated that they had no reason to amend
constitutional Articles relating to religious matters. Indeed, neither in the 1998 nor the 2001 constitutional amendments
any substantial provisions are made concerning religious freedom (Amor 1996;
M. P. Stathopoulos, former minister of Justice, recommends the following
revisions in the constitution and in the legislative order to combat violations
of freedom of religion and belief:
1) Removal of the preamble to the Constitution
which calls upon the divine “in the name of the Consubstantial and
Indivisible Holy Trinity”
2) Removal of article 3 of the Constitution that
refers to a “prevailing” religion
3) Removal of par 2 of article 13 referring “Proselytism
4) Abolition of law no. 1363/1938 and of its
modification to law no. 1672/1939, which stipulate penalties for those that
5) Removal of the phrase “development of
religious conscience” as the objective of education, in article 16§2 of the Constitution
6) Removal from article 1§1 of law no 1566/1985 reference to the
transmission of “the original facts of the Orthodox Christian tradition”
as an objective of the primary and secondary education.
7) Revision of article 33§2 of the Constitution which anticipates the
Christian religious oath for the President of the Republic excluding from this
position any Greek citizen who is not an Orthodox Christian.
8) Addition to article 59 concerning the oath of
deputies in Parliament allowing a political oath, thus acknowledging atheists
and those believing in religions which forbid a religious oath.
9) Removal of the obligatory or optional
inscription of ones religion on the identity card (article 3§1 of law 1599/1896, as
revised by §1
of article 39 of law 1832/1989 and was replaced by article 2 of law 1988/1991
which brought back the obligatory inscription), which indirectly creates
discrimination between citizens and, particularly against members of religious
10) The abolition of all those laws that allow the
state to intervene in matters that are strictly the domain of the Orthodox
Church provided this Church autonomy does not lead to the violation human
11) Revision of those articles concerning civil
marriage as to make it obligatory for all citizens, providing all, irrespective
of their religious conscience, with the legal rights secured by the state, thus
abolishing the exercise of public authority by religious functionaries of any
12) Providing the possibility for a civil or
secular burial for those who request it.
13) Providing the possibility of cremation for
those who request it.
the period he was Minister of Justice (2000-2001) he was able impose the
removal of ones religion from identity cards following the implementation of a
recommendation made to the respective authorities by the Authority on the
Protection of Personal Data. (1999, pp. 201-206)
1. Cultural institutions and/or associations
founded by the minority (Holy Synod, 1996)
· Union of the Greek Catholic Students (Enosi
Katholikon Foititon Elladas – EKFE), 9 Omirou str., 10672, Athens
Movement of the Catholic Scientists and
Intellectuals (Kinisi Katholikon Epistimonon
kai Dianooumenon – KIKEDE), 9 Omirou str., 10672, Athens
the Greek Catholic Youth (Enosi Katholikis Neolaias Elladas – EKNE), Omirou 9,
· “Dionysios Aeropageitis”, cultural center, 27
Smyrnis str., 10439, Athens
Minority institutions and/or associations concerning education (Ibid)
“Agios Dionysios” primary, 2 Rali str., 15121,
“Agios Pavlos” primary, 5 Polyla str., 11141, Athens
“Agios Andreas” primary, 32 Satovriandou str.,
“Leonteio Lykeio Neas Smyrnis”, 2 Themistokli
Sofouli str., 17122, Nea Smyrni, Athens
“Leonteio Lykeio Patission”, 17 Neigy str.,
“Chrisostomos Smyrnis” primary, 2 Themistokli
Sofouli, 17122, Nea Smyrni, Athens
“Agios Pavlos” Greek-French school, 36 Harilaou
Trikoupi, 18536 Piraeus
“Agios Iosif” Greek-French school,
Thessalonikis and Petrou Ralli, 15121,
“Ioanna D’ Ark”
Greek-French school, 12 Eleftheriou Venizelou, 18531, Piraeus
“Sholi Oursoulinon”, 10 Psyhari str., 15451,
“Agios Dionysios” primary, 12 Efkalypton str.,
“Agios Georgios” primary, 12 Andrea Karga,
Ermoupolis, 84100 Syros
“De La Sal College”, synoikismos Pefka, 56710,
“Agios Iosif” primary, 130 Spyrou Spyridi,
Political parties and/or associations founded by the minority
4. Minority media
Newsletter of the Holy Synod of the Catholic
Hierarchy in Greece,
Secretariat of the Holy Synod of the Catholic Hierarchy in Greece,
842 00, Tinos
“Katholiki”, 246 Aharnon str., 11253, Athens
“Synhrona Vimata” (contemporary steps),
by the Jesuit Fathers, 27 Smyrnis str., 10439, Athens
“Anoihtoi Orizontes” (open horizons), by
the Jesuit Fathers, 27 Smyrnis str., 10439, Athens
(1995), UN Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights, “Report on
Religious Freedom in Greece”, pursuant to General Assembly Resolution,
Center for Documentation and Information on
Minorities in Europe – Southeast Europe
(CEDIME-SE), “Catholics of Bulgaria” (1999)
Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) (2000) Second Report on Greece,
Yiannis (2000), “Triti Synelefsi Apodimou Ellinismou” (Third Meeting of Greeks
Living Abroad), Synhrona Vimata, 113,
father Markos, (1987), Istoria tis
Katholikis Ekklisias, I Poreia Eikosi Aionon tou Laou tou Theou (History of
the Catholic Church, 20 Centuries of the Journey of the God’s People), Poreia
Nikos (2000), lawyer, Press Officer of the Catholic Hierarchy in Greece,
discussion with CEDIME-SE researcher, 25/5/2000.
Greek Helsinki Monitor & Minority Rights
Group-Greece (GHM/MRGG) (1998), “I Katholiki Koinotita stin Ellada” (the
Catholic Community in Greece), in Greek http://www.greekhelsinki.gr/greek/reports/catholics-artos-zois.html
-------------------- (1999a), “Report about
Compliance with the Principles of the Framework Convention for the Protection
of National Minorities (along guidelines for state reports according to Article
25.1 of the Convention)”, 18 September 1999.
---------------------- (1999b) Greece: Religious Discrimination and
Related Violations of International Commitments-Joint Report Developed for the
OSCE Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting on Freedom of Religion, Vienna 22
March 1999 http://www.greekhelsinki.gr/english/reports/ghm22-3-1999.html
Human Rights in Greece: Joint Concise
Annual Report for 1999, http://www.greekhelsinki.gr/pdf/ghm-mrgg-concise-annual-99.doc
“Human Rights in Greece: Joint Annual Report for 2000” http://www.greekhelsinki.gr/bhr/english/organizations/ghm/ghm_11_02_00.rtf
------------------- (2000c), “Parallel Report on Greece’s compliance
with the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial
Discrimination” March 2000. http://www.greekhelsinki.gr/pdf/greece-cerd-2000.PDF
(2000d), “Minorities and Media in Greece”, Prepared for the Article
XIX/Minority Rights Group International project on Media Law and Minorities within the
Council of Europe area, May 2000.
International Helsinki Federation for
Human Rights, “Human Rights in the OSCE Region: the Balkans, the Caucasus, Europe, Central Asia and North America”, Report 2000: Greece (Events of
Synod of the Catholic Hierarchy in Greece,
Yearbook 1996, the Secretariat of the Holy Synod.
Konidaris Ioannis, (1991), Nomiki Theoria kai Praxi gia tous “Martyres
tou Iehova”, [Legal Theory and Practice for the “Jehovah’s Witnesses”],
Sakkoulas, Athens, 1991.
Levantis Dimitris (2000), Interview by
CEDIME-SE researcher, D. Levantis is Secretary General of SOS Racisme-Greece
and Legal Advisor to the Catholic Church of Tinos, Athens, Greece, 1/6/2000.
(2001), “The Pope’s historical visit to Greece ‘All is well that ends well?’”,
in Karavan, Periodical Issue of “Search for Common Ground”, no.2, June
National Committee for Human Rights (March 2001),
“Recommendations on issues of religious freedom” (Particularly issues
concerning compliance with the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights)
in Report 2001, National Human Rights Committee, Hellenic Republic, January
Pollis Adamantia (1992), “Greek National Identity: Religious Minorities,
rights and European Norms”, in Journal of Modern Greek Studies, vol. 10
--------------------- (1999), “Ellada: Ena provlimatiko Kosmiko Kratos”
[Greece: A problematic Secular State] in Christopoulos
Dimitris (ed.) (1999), Nomika Zitimata
Thriskeftikis Eterotitas stin Ellada (Issues of Religious Diversity in
Greece), Kritiki/KEMO Publications, Athens
Sotirelis Yiorgos, (1993), Thriskeia kai Ekpaidevsi kata to Syntagma
kai tin Evropaiki Symvasi, Apo ton Katihismo stin Polyfonia [Religion and
Education According to the Constitution and the European Convention, From
Catechism to Polyfony], Sakkoulas, Athens.
-------------------- (1999), “O horismos kratous-ekklisias: I
anatheorisi pou den egine…” [Separation of state-church: the revision that
never took place…] in Hristopoulos op. cit.
P. Mihalis (1999), “I Sintagmatiki Katohirosi tis Thriskeftikis Eleftherias kai
oi Sheseis Politeias-Ekklisias” [Constitutional Consolidation of Religious
Freedom and State-Church Relations] in Hristopoulos op. cit.
Synigoros tou Politi
(Ombudsman), Annual Report for 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002.
for the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations – Greece http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/898586b1dc7b4043c1256a450044f331/7ad07bede689f193c1256bd70037dce9/$FILE/G0240976.doc
GENERAL BIBLIOGRAPHY ON THE MINORITY
Panayotis (2001): Kratos kai Ekklisia: Mia diskoli shesi [State and
Church: A difficult relation], publications Kritiki, Athens
Phil (1970), O Frangomahalas tis Smyrnis,
(the Frank-slums of Smyrna), Athens.
Markos (1977), Eisagogistin Istoria tis
Katholikis Istorias stin Ellada, (Introduction to the History of the
Catholic Church in Greece, Athens.
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“Ta Fragohiotika Vivlia”, (the Frankohiotika Books) in To Vivlio stis Proviomihanikes Koinonies, Athens.
Hristopoulos Dimitris (ed.) (1999), Nomika
Zitimata Thriskeftikis Eterotitas stin Ellada (Issues of Religious
Diversity in Greece), Kritiki/KEMO
Without Frontiers (1994), “Greece” Religious
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Ioannis (1959), Oi Ounitai, (the
Uniates), Zoi, Athens.
Manitakis Antonis (2001), Oi sheseis tis Ekklisias me to
kratos-ethnos [The (Orthodox) Churche’s Relations with the nation-state],
publications Nefeli, Athens.
Pollis Adamantia (1987), “The State,the Law and Human Rights in Greece”, Human Rights Quarterly, vol. 9, no.
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----------------------(1993), “Eastern Orthodoxy and Human Rights”, in Human
Rights Quarterly, vol. 15, no.2, May 1993
Liberty: The Legal Framework in Selected OSCE Countries – Greece
pp.59-75, updated 2000, (report prepared for the OSCE by the Law
Library, Library of Congress) http://www.house.gov/csce/LOCRELLIB1.pdf
Roudometoff Victor (1998) “From the Rum Millet to Greek Nation:
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1453-1821”, in Journal Modern Greek Studies, vol. 16, no. 1.
Markos, Ihisouites ston Elliniko Horo
(Jesuits in Greece),
Syra Sacra, Thriskeftiki Istoria Syrou,
(Holy Syros, Religious History of Syros),
Christos (1996), “The International Protection of Minorities in Greece”
in Featherstone and K. Ifantis, eds. Greece in a Changing Europe, Manchester University Press.
Demitrios (1978), I Nomiki Thesis tis Katholikis Ekklisias en ti Elliniki Epikrateia,
(Legal Position of the Catholic Church in Greece), Athens.
(1983), Theologikos Dialogos prin apo tin
B’ Vatikaniki Synodo, (Theological Discussion before the Second Vatican
Synod), Kalos Typos.
Bon (1982), Archipelagus Turbatus
Stavros Stefanos, (1993), “Proselytism and the Right to Religious
Freedom”, Sakkoulas, Athens.
(1996), “Citizenship and the Protection of Minorities,” in K. Featherstone et
al. op. cit.
(1999), “Human Rights in Greece: Twelve Years of
Supervision from Strasbourg”, Journal of Modern Greek Studies, vol.
17, no. 1, May 1999
Tsitselikis K. &
Christopoulos D. (eds.) (1997), To
meionotiko phenomeno stin Ellada [The minority phenomenon in Greece], Kritiki/KEMO
Nikos (1981), I Ekklisia stin Ellada kata
tin Fragokratia, (the Church in Greece
during the Frankokratia), Thessalonica.