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Données sociologiques et juridiques sur la religion en Europe et au-delà

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Grèce

  • Two important legal developments regarding questions related directly with religious affairs in Greece have taken place from April 2014 until November 2014 :

- Law 4301 concerning the ‘Organization of the legal form of the religious communities and their unions in Greece’. The Law establishes a new legal form, that of ‘religious personality’ under private law, for those religious communities, which do not enjoy legal personality under public law (i.e. the Orthodox Church, the Jewish and Muslim communities). The Law also stipulates the absolute freedom of internal administration for the communities under the legal status of ‘religious personality’, as well as the procedure for acquiring it from the judicial authorities ; it regulates the framework for their financial administration and for religious buildings and institutions as well. Last but not least, the Law recognizes the Roman Catholic, the Coptic, the Ethiopian, the Armenian, the Anglican and other Churches as ‘religious personalities under private law’ putting an end to a lasting problem in Greek legislation (For more details see).

- Law 4283 provides important tax, financial and administrative privileges for the Monastic Community of Mount Athos (more details here).

Konstantinos Papastathis
  • 1 March 2006 : Greece legalises cremation

On 1 March 2006, the Greek Parliament adopted a new law legalising cremation of the dead in Greece. The bill was introduced by 10 MPs from conservative, socialist and left-wing parties. There is increasing demand in Greece for cremation as cemeteries are often overcrowded. The law is a result of repeated pressure coming primarily from Human rights’ groups, who argue that cremation constitutes an essential component of religious freedom. This is particularly important given the growing number of non-Christian foreigners who presently reside in Greece.
Cremation has therefore become a legal option, basically for people whose religious beliefs allow them to be cremated (Greeks or foreigners). In this case, cremation is allowed, provided there is a written request by the dead person or a family member. This option however poses difficulties for people who, by reason of their religious belonging, can not be cremated (mainly the Orthodox). The difficulty arises from the fact that the law of 1 March 2006 linked permission to be cremated to religious belonging. The Greek Church is historically opposed to cremation and Archbishop Christodolos has firmly reaffirmed that the Orthodox faith provides only for the interment of the dead. It is not uncommon for Orthodox priests to refuse to perform the last rites for persons having chosen cremation (or for that matter, people who opted for a civil wedding without having a religious ceremony).
There are no crematoriums in Greece since cremation has up to this point been illegal. Those who choose to be cremated must therefore make provision for their bodies to be taken abroad (generally to Romania or Bulgaria). Plans are currently underway to construct two crematoriums in Greece (one in Athens and the other in Thessalonica).

Lina Molokotos-Liederman