Greek Church Head Sees Social ‘Explosion’ From More Austerity

Hieronymos II, the head of Greece’s powerful Orthodox Church, said the country’s government must expect social upheaval if it implements further austerity measures to secure a second financial aid package.

“Even tougher, more painful and more unfair measures are being demanded within the same ineffective and unsuccessful policy that is being followed,” the Archbishop said in a letter addressed to Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, a copy of which was posted late yesterday on the website of the Archdiocese of Athens.

Greek officials are negotiating a second international bailout with representatives of the so-called troika of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund for loans that may exceed the 130 billion euros ($171 billion) now on the table.

“We are being asked to take even larger doses of a medicine that has proven to be deadly and to undertake commitments that do not solve the problem, but only temporarily postpone the foretold death of our economy,” the Archbishop said, in the letter.

The fiscal policy being implemented in Greece with repeated wage cuts and “unbearable” new taxes has led to a jump in homelessness, company closures, suicides and unemployment as well as to hunger not seen since the second world war and to the emigration of the young and the country’s best minds, said the Archbishop, who rarely makes political comments.

“The voices of the desperate, the voices of Greeks are being provocatively ignored in decision making,” the Archbishop said. “The unprecedented patience of the Greek people is running out, fear is giving way to rage and the risk of a social explosion can no longer be ignored by those who give orders and those who execute their lethal recipes.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Tugwell at ptugwell1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jerrold Colten at jcolten@bloomberg.net

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