Greek government, Church, strike property development deal

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s left-led government and the country’s powerful Orthodox Church have struck a tentative deal to end decades of discord over of large tracts of real estate both claim as their own.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says the deal will also end the civil servant status of Church of Greece clerics — some 9,000 men currently paid out of the state budget.

Greek taxpayers nevertheless will continue to cover the Church’s payroll through an annual state subsidy equal to extant costs for clergy salaries.

Tsipras said that under the agreement, Church and state will form a joint fund to manage and develop contested properties.

He discussed the plan while he and Church head Archbishop Hieronymos made joint statements.

The deal requires approval from Tsipras’ Cabinet and the Church’s governing body.

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