Greece's Church says priests should keep state jobs

Greece's Church says priests should keep state jobs
In this photo released by Greek Prime Minister's office, Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, left, and Church head Archbishop Hieronymos arrive for their meeting at Maximos Mansion in Athens on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. Greece's left-led government and the country's powerful Church say they have struck a tentative deal to end decades of discord over the exploitation of large tracts of real estate both claim as their own. (Andrea Bonetti/Greek Prime Minister's Office via AP)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s powerful Orthodox Church says it wants priests to remain civil servants, rejecting part of a recent government offer to switch a payroll system for clergymen.

The church’s governing Holy Synod said Friday that it had voted unanimously “to retain the existing payroll status of the clergy and laymen of the Church of Greece.”

Earlier this month, left-wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called on the church to back a series of government proposed reforms aimed at settling decades-old property disputes and moving priests off the state payroll to a separate publicly-funded structure.

Tsipras later said the move would free up 10,000 new positions in the public sector amid hiring restrictions that remain in place after the country’s international bailouts.