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A controversial Greek legislation > cohabitation law March 14, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Gay Life, Greece News, Lifestyle, Religion & Faith.
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Justice Minister and Archbishop of Greece to discuss controversial legislation

Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis is due to meet today with Archbishop Ieronymos at the latter’s official residence in Plaka to discuss the government’s plans to introduce a cohabitation law, giving partners in a relationship the same rights as if they were married.

Hatzigakis reportedly requested the meeting following opposition from many clerics who claim the move would “downgrade the institution of marriage.” But Archbishop Ieronymos appears to be prepared. “Life goes on and we must learn to tackle its challenges,” he said, adding that the Holy Synod would debate the matter when it convenes next week.

UPDATE > 14 March 2008 >>> Church clears cohabitation law

The head of the Church of Greece Archbishop Ieronymos, yesterday gave a green light to the government’s plans to introduce a law that would allow couples who live together to have the same rights as those that are married.

Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis presented the proposals to Archbishop Ieronymos amid concern that the Church might object to the change of law. However, Ieronymos, who was elected to succeed Archbishop Christodoulos last month, indicated that trying to interfere in the details of the law is beyond the Church’s remit.

«The members of the Church follow the dictates of the Bible, the rules of the Church, the order of the ecumenical synods and the Holy tradition,» said the Archbishop. «As a result, there are clear limits and in respect to this matter, the Church does not have the right to ask for it to be watered down or to have any other request granted.»

The new law is set to allow unmarried couples to make their relationship official and legally binding by signing a simple notarial contract. The contract would remain in effect, thus ensuring full protection of both partners’ legal rights, until they get married or one marries someone else.

There are no plans to extend the law to same-sex couples, although this may be considered in the future.

Yesterday’s meeting came as a lesbian couple announced that they will try next week to become the first same-sex partners to be married in a civil ceremony by taking advantage of a 1982 law which does not specify that a civil union must be between a man and a woman.

Ieronymos appeared to take a philosophical approach to the changes that are afoot. «Some people who have certain problems choose to regulate their lives in their own way,» he said. «The Church cannot keep a check on this by enforcing measures like the police.»

The Archbishop said that following his discussion with the Minister he was confident that the proper research would be carried out to see what the public thinks of introducing a cohabitation law.

A Church for the 21st century > With little drumbeating and no television cameras, the recently appointed Athens Archbishop is changing the face of the Church of Greece. Ieronymos is bringing the Church closer to the tradition of humility and love for one’s fellow man.

The new Archbishop gave away the luxury cars of his predecessor and turned down the luxury home in the upmarket Filothei district, opting instead for a small apartment. He is doing important charity work far from the glare of publicity and is steering clear of politics. He has rendered unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and unto God that which is God’s, leaving diplomacy and the nation’s well-being to Caesar. Ieronymos does not aspire to become a leader of the nation but a shepherd of souls.

Ieronymos’s deeds elevate the Church in the eyes of the people. At the same time, they pre-empt its main detractors. The new Archbishop is bringing the Church back to society, a society in harmony not conflict. He is building a Church for the 21st century.

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