The Holy Synod, the decision-making body of the Greek Orthodox Church, has adopted a pro-choice group’s initiative to devote one day of the year to the “unborn child.”
The Church, which represents more than 80 percent of Greeks in a country where clergy enjoy civil servant status, has declared that this day will be the first Sunday after Christmas.
The decision, signed on July 9, is in response to the mobilization of a pro-life movement called “Let Me Live” within the Church.
In a press release issued on July 24, the association welcomed this “historic decision” which defends “the truth that an unborn child is a human being in the image of God, from the moment of conception.”
The Holy Synod justified the establishment of this day as a protection of children but also to help solve the country’s demographic difficulties.
In Greece, as in most European Union member states, abortion is allowed up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. According to several studies, the number of abortions has increased in recent years, largely due to the economic crisis.
The decision of the Orthodox Church is part of a “demographicwinter” for Greece. The country has a low fertility rate that is far from generational renewal: 1.35 children per woman in 2017, according to the Hellenic Statistical Authority.
The number of births was just under 90,000 in 2017, compared to 103,000 in 2000. In addition, nearly 500,000 Greeks left the country to escape unemployment after the severe economic crisis that hit the country hard.
To halt this demographic decline, the new right-wing government led by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has promised a grant of €2,000 ($2,227) for each child born in Greece and €1,000 for mothers under 30.
This measure provoked the anger of feminist movements, who denounced the government’s “sexist policy.”