Greece's radical left Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced Thursday the start of a "dialogue" with the powerful Orthodox Church on using clerical assets to boost the struggling state coffers.
Tsipras, the first Greek premier to be sworn in at a secular ceremony, thanked "with all my heart" the head of the Greek Orthodox Church, Ieronymos II, who recently declared that the Church's wealth was at the disposal of the government to help repay the national debt.
In a Greek television interview to mark the Orthodox Easter, Archbishop Ieronymos explained that Church assets, without being sold off, could be exploited to generate revenue.
"In the context of great pressure on public finances, initiatives like yours can provide real breathing space," Tsipras said in a letter to the Greek primate.
The Greek Church is said to be one of the largest, if not the most important landowner in Greece.
It holds thousands of acres of land, forests and beaches, as well as monasteries.