CRISIS: GREECE; CHURCH PROPERTY EXEMPT FROM STATE SELL-OFFS
- Crisis: Greece; Church steps in to side with people
06 October , 13:42
(ANSAmed) - ATHENS, OCTOBER 6 - At a time of serious economic crisis, the powerful Greek Orthodox Church has entered the arena siding with the people, who have been hit hard by the severe austerity measures adopted by the government in an attempt to redress the country's disastrous economy, with some bishops even hoping for civil disobedience. The seriousness of the current situation as discussed during the latest Holy Synod, the Greek Church's highest authority, which consists of 80 high prelates, which was convened a few days ago by the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Ieronymos II, to discuss the state of the country's finances.
Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos said that Archbishop Ieronymos's report had "touched the soul" of many archibishops, who have illustrated the difficulties being faced by Greeks and ways in which the Church can help them. Many also appreciated a circular drafted by Metropolitan Nikolaos of Mesogaias and Lavreotiki, in which he strongly condemned the government and its economic policy and called on the faithful "to react if they are unable to pay the tax on their homes", promising that "the Church will be by their side".
"I would like to tell those who cannot pay the tax on their property not to despair," the high prelate writes in his note.
"They must know that they will find us united by their side to cry together "You will take nothing from those who no longer have anything". They [those in government] must understand that we have no money. We cannot pay. We have reached the limit, but we will not allow them to finish us off. If they cut off electricity to homes, we will cut it off in all churches. We will celebrate weddings by candlelight and mass with our tears".
"The time has come for the people to show their strength and to take the future into their own hands. For as long as we stand still and remain subjected to unbearable and mistaken choices, we will become ever more compliant in the slow but inexorable degeneration of our being. If we fail to wake up, we are finished. There will be no future for us," Nikolaos writes, adding that "the time has come for all of the decision makers to understand what is really happening in homes, in streets, in shops and in everyday life".
"It is time to rise up, everything must change and as they will not change things, we must all play our part. Those who are badly off as a result of the current situation, those who love the truth, have a place in this change. All great changes have come from heroic men, especially the young. We must, we can and we are obliged all together to change our future of our own enterprise. Not with violence, but with strength and determination. Not with nihilistic choices but with purity, heroism and intelligence". Some high prelates have underlined the fact that the crisis has led to a daily increase in the Church's social commitment. The Metropolitan of Phthiotis, also named Nikolaos, says that "every day we struggle, we have many people to help and we give out many free meals". Reacting to the circular from his brother effectively inciting the faithful to rebel, the Metropolitan said that "in general the Church is more moderate, but there is no harm if stronger voices make themselves heard". Meanwhile, the Metropolitan of Salonika, Anthimos, called the new austerity measures "an unjust and dangerous thing", and reacting to the circular from Nikolaos, said that "the people can demand what they want, as long as they remain within the law".
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