I’m afraid this business with the Church being all sulky with the State over a matter of state could end up being even more of a joke than the “popular gatherings” over identity cards 25 years ago.

For one simple reason: State and Church neither co-govern, nor work together.

The Church can have an opinion on anything it likes, and it’s entitled to respect for those opinions, but it does not get to choose the legislation it likes.

The State legislates without the approval of the Holy Synod, just as the Church celebrates its services without anyone telling it which verses to chant or incense to burn.

And, of course, no one can force the Holy Fathers to lunch at the Presidential Palace with the President, just as no one can require them to dine at Petrakis Monastery or a tsipouro joint in Monastiraki.

It’s worth clearing that up, I think, because there seems to be a spot of confusion. And its immoderate reactions could end up depriving the Church of a priceless asset: the respect of its flock.

It may well be that our venerable prelates disagree with a law or regulation. Which is fine: this is a democracy.

But the Church should think twice before it starts getting in a huff over political issues.

I mean, what are the local Metropolitans supposed to do now that Lent is just around the corner and the faithful will be in church every Friday in the lead up to Holy Week?

Will he put face control on the door of every church to make sure everyone who shows up has the approved opinion on same-sex marriage?

And who will he end up turning away? Just the MPs who voted for the law, or those who voted for the MPs?

I remember Christodoulos, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece until his death in 2008, calling for “popular assemblies” and gathering signatures back in 2000, when the government wanted to remove religious affiliation from Greek identity cards. He said he’d demand a referendum on the matter.

He took the signatures to the late President Stephanopoulos, only to be told, and I quote: “The idea’s a good one, but referenda aren’t your business, with or without signatures”.

Because, see, when you start meddling in matters that don’t concern you, that’s where the joke ends. And rightly or wrongly the “Church that presides over the nation” hasn’t been a thing in Greece since we won our independence from the Ottoman Turks.

So I hope the more prudent hierarchs will pick up the pieces and not let a clash develop which can only do harm. Primarily to the Church.

Because the Church was opposed to civil marriage, too, and a good many other things.

But the world has moved on. For over forty years now, anyone who wants to marry can choose whether they want a priest presiding over the ceremony, or a mayor.

And, of course, the country is still Orthodox, even if it doesn’t say so anymore on our ID cards.