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Greek religion

Greek Church

The main religion of the country is the Greek Orthodox Church, roughly, 98% of the population belongs to the Orthodox faith. The other 2% are Catholics, Muslims and Jews. The Greek Orthodox Church has close links to the Russian Orthodox Church, in the 8 th century the Orthodox religion had a number of differences with the Roman Catholic faith. Among one of the differences, was that of celibacy, catholic priests have to remain celibate, whilst Orthodox priests can be married, so long as this happens before he is ordained.

These differences of opinions led to the diversion of the two faiths in 1054. The visit to Greece in 2001, by Pope John Paul II, was the first papal visit to the country for over 1,300 years. The Catholic community in Greece is of Italian extraction, and they mainly live on Syros , in the Cyclades Islands .

The Muslims, mainly of Turkish extraction reside in the region of Thrace in northern Greece , and on some of the islands of the Dodecanese group. The once prolific community of Jews, that lived in the Thessaloniki region, where decimated by the Germans when they where transported to concentration camps during WWII, about 5000 Jews live in Greece today.

Other minorities live in Epiros in northern Greece , and consist of Vlachs and Sarakatansi, these are nomadic communities and for most of the summer live in the high mountains tending to their sheep, in the winter they return to their villages in the valleys.

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