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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-02-06

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Christodoulos says he's determined to proceed with 'clean-up'; cites 'attack' on Church itself
  • [02] Results of first opinion poll on judicial, Church corruption scandals published

  • [01] Christodoulos says he's determined to proceed with 'clean-up'; cites 'attack' on Church itself

    Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos stressed during a closely watched sermon on Sunday that he is determined to proceed with a "clean-up" in the powerful Church, following a series of embarrassing charges aimed at a handful of top clerics over the past weeks.

    Speaking from the pulpit to parishioners and several members of the Holy Synod -- the Church of Greece's hierarchical plenum -- Christodoulos nevertheless said the "heavy climate" in the Church is being "maintained by those making revelations of scandals, real or fabricated."

    "What purposes does this daily vilification serve? Of what consequence are the (television programmes') proclamations of coming revelations? Do they not create a climate of blackmail? Do they not turn those they threaten into hostages? Is a clean-up achieved in this manner, with vilification and not internally (by the Church itself)?" the influential Archbishop rhetorically asked while delivering a sermon from the Penteli Monastery in Athens on a day that coincided with the holding of an annual one-day seminar on theological issues.

    Moreover, he said the recent crescendo of media attention on the accusations against the high-ranking clerics -- ranging from antiquities smuggling to embezzlement and misappropriation of funds to even charges of indecency and licentiousness -- is merely an attack against the Church "during a period when the country needs its (Church) spiritual guidance".

    Finally, Christodoulos said whatever problems related to the clergy are not solved with a prosecutor's "stick".

    The highest-ranking cleric touched by the recent furor is Metropolitan of Attica (prefecture) Panteleimon, who was suspended by the Holy Synod from his ecclesiastical duties for six months until an investigation into the charges against him is finalised.

    (Caption: Archbishop Christodoulos is shown in a file photo -- ANA / M. Bamihas)

    [02] Results of first opinion poll on judicial, Church corruption scandals published

    The first opinion poll in the wake of an ongoing trial-fixing probe that has shaken the Greek judiciary and spilled over into the Church of Greece records a noteworthy "confidence gap" in public opinion for the country's venerated institutions, although the Karamanlis government's volition to tackle graft is overwhelmingly backed.

    Several judges have already been sacked for allegedly taking bribes to fix trials and grant parole to convicted felons, while an investigation is continuing to uncover the extent of the problem. Simultaneously, a handful of high-ranking clerics face antiquities smuggling, embezzlement and indecency charges, among others, as in at least two instances the judicial and clerical corruption charges are intertwined.

    According to an opinion poll published in the weekly newspaper "Paron" on Sunday, 53.6 percent of respondents declared that their confidence in the "institutions" (Church, judiciary etc.) has been shaken. Conversely, the vast remainder of respondents (43.5 percent) said the latest incidents would be dealt with.

    In terms of the Karamanlis government's profile, 67.4 percent of respondents said recent high-level announcements promising to fight judicial corruption were positive or "probably positive". Conversely, 25.4 percent favored the opposite opinion.


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