“With the Greek welfare state on the skids, the Church has stepped up,” says Dylan Pahman in this week’s Acton Commentary. Many Orthodox parishes have ministries to help those hit by the economic crisis, still struggling six years later.
With negotiations between Greece and its “troika” creditors dragging out like a soap opera with no ending, the economic indicators aren’t providing much cause for optimism. According to Standard & Poor, as of 2014 Greece’s GDP has shrunk to 75% what it was in 2009. The country’s current debt-to-GDP ratio, The Economist reports, “after two bail-outs stands at 180% of GDP.”
Dimosthenis Kouskoukis, a Ph.D. candidate researching the finances of the Orthodox Church in Greece, the established church in this nation, estimated that the number of people fed daily by parish soup kitchens and other ministries has increased from approximately 6,000 in 2009 to 16,000 as of 2014.
In Thessaloniki, the St. George parish has become not only a soup kitchen, but a job service and all around private aid society.