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Last Updated: Monday, 14 February, 2005, 20:03 GMT
Greek Church plans scandal summit
Office of the Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church
The allegations have shocked the Greek public
Heads of the Greek Orthodox Church have been summoned to an emergency meeting after a string of scandalous allegations involving top clergymen.

The Church recently suspended a bishop over accusations of embezzlement.

Another priest is under arrest, charged with trading in illegal antiques and using his money and influence to affect the outcome of criminal trials.

Recent surveys have shown growing public support for looser ties between the powerful Church and state.

The Church has great influence in Greece - 97% of the population describes itself as Greek Orthodox and its authority is recognised by the constitution.

Unprecedented scandal

Two polls published in national newspapers over the weekend showed a majority of Greeks in favour of separating Church and state.

The latest revelations have prompted Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, whose Conservative Party traditionally enjoys close ties to the Church, to call for the clergy to clean up its act.

The governing body of the Church's Holy Synod has planned an emergency meeting on Friday and Saturday to discuss its response to the scandal.

A BBC correspondent in Athens says growing public pressure forced top clergy to abandon their earlier unwillingness to discuss the scandal, believed to be the first of its kind in the Greek Orthodox Church.

Growing pressure

The scandal erupted in early February, when a prosecutor charged an Archimandrite, or celibate priest, Iavkos Giosakis, with smuggling antiques and with helping to bribe judges to throw the outcomes of trials.

Four judges were also charged with serious disciplinary offences for their alleged involvement in the scandal.

Another top clergyman, Metropolitan Bishop Panteleimon of Attica, was subsequently suspended from the Church over accusations of embezzlement.

He denies the claims.

Opposition parties have renewed calls for a separation of Church and state.

Greek church rocked by scandals
04 Feb 05 |  Europe

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