ATHENS – Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has sent a letter to Archbishop Ieronymos, thanking the head of the Greek Orthodox Church for offering to sell church assets to help Greece pay off its staggering 313-billion euro ($330 billion) debt.
Tsipras, who said the debt can’t be paid and is locked in tough talks with international lenders over undone reforms, said he was glad nonetheless for the gesture. He had come into office saying he would seek separation of Church and State but backed off.
“At a time when, for political reasons, great pressure is being exerted on public finances, initiatives such as yours can provide real relief not just for state coffers but for society as a whole,” he said.
Tsipras proposed the immediate creation of a special committee to study and elaborate on the Archbishop’s proposals although other debt relief efforts to help Greece have brought in miniscule amounts.
In an interview with Skai TV over the Easter weekend, Ieronymos, who heads the Church of Greece, said he was open to the “development” of assets but ruled out the sale of property owned by the Church.