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A Scandal in Greece

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  • byakimov@csc.com.au
    A Scandal in Greece The gates of hell shall not prevail . (Matt. 16,18) Recently, a leading American Evangelical stated in a forum that he, had lived for too
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 21, 2005
      A Scandal in Greece

      'The gates of hell shall not prevail'.

      (Matt. 16,18)

      Recently, a leading American Evangelical stated in a forum that
      he, 'had lived for too long in Greece and Russia to be idealistic
      about the Orthodox Church, let alone become Orthodox'. I answered
      him thus: 'I too have lived for too long in Greece, and with
      Russians, to be idealistic about the human side of the Orthodox
      Church, but I have also lived with Orthodox for too long not to
      be Orthodox'. Only an (extra-ecclesial) Protestant could have
      misunderstood the nature of the (Orthodox) Church to have stated
      such a thing about the Orthodox Faith.

      Today, those who are idealistic about the human side of the
      Church will have been disillusioned by scandalous affairs which
      have come out into the open in Greece. Some representatives of
      the Church of Greece stand accused of corruption in scandals, in
      which judges appear to have covered up the corrupt dealings of a
      number of senior Greek clergy. The scandal appears to concern
      much of the Greek Establishment. Greek conspiracy theorists and
      secular-minded journalists are having a field day.

      Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens has quite rightly called for
      honesty in this matter, for as the proverb says: 'Honesty is the
      best policy'. In fact, this scandal concerns only a few senior
      figures. It is an affair of the corruption of certain individuals
      by certain individuals. The Church Herself is of course not
      corrupt and never can be, for the Church is the Body of Christ,
      transfigured by and filled with the Light of the Resurrection.
      Those who can be corrupt are merely individual 'members', clergy
      or laity, who nominally represent the Church - this is not at all
      the same thing as the Church. That some individuals will have to
      repent for their misdeeds, either in monasteries or else in
      prisons, is good. Their corruption, and the repentance therefore
      due from them, does not mean that the Church Herself is corrupt.

      Unfortunately, the secular and anti-clerical Greek media,
      supported by the foreign and anti-Church mentality of the
      European Union and the United States, do not want to understand
      this. They want to destroy the Orthodox Church, as they already
      tried to do in Eastern Europe under Western-financed Communism,
      and are now trying to do in Eastern Europe through
      Western-financed Capitalism. Their most recent attack, in the
      Ukraine, heavily funded by the EU and Washington, is now being
      followed up by this attack in Greece.

      It is ironic that the problem of clerical corruption in Greece
      has come about through the penetration of the Western Capitalist
      mentality among Greeks. This is part of the very same mentality
      as that of those who are now attacking the Church of Greece in
      the secular media. Had all Greeks, including members of the
      clergy, remained faithful to the Tradition of the Orthodox
      Church, no corruption would have occurred. Ever since the tragic
      1920s and the Capitalist-enforced change of calendar and
      liturgical modernism in Greece, then the triumph of Capitalism
      after the Civil War of the 1940s and the opening of American
      military bases, and finally the corrupting wash of Western
      tourism and the entry of Greece into the then European Community,
      Greece has been profoundly westernized.

      The result of this Westernization is corruption, whether among
      the secular elements in society outside the Church, or among the
      secular elements who have penetrated into the human side of the
      Church. The Church is not corrupt, for She is the Body of Christ.
      But there are individuals who represent the human aspect of the
      Church who are corrupt. And they have become corrupt, not because
      of the Church, but despite the Church - because of the secular
      Western spirit which now prevails in modern Greece.

      There are those who think that preserving the Church of Greece as
      a sort of conservative, nationalist rite is the same as living
      for the Church. It is not. Christ did not preach Hellenism. The
      Church is neither conservative nor liberal, both those attitudes
      are purely secular. Conservatism and liberalism are the two sides
      of the same secular coin. The Church is above secular attitudes,
      which are all more or less conservative, or more or less liberal.
      The Church is of the Tradition, that is to say, of the Holy
      Spirit, as has been received by the Saints of the Church. The
      Tradition is living, it is spiritually inspired, it is not mere
      human customs and inventions, more or less conservative or more
      or less liberal.

      When individuals nominally belonging to the Church are corrupt,
      it is precisely because they do not follow the Tradition of the
      Church, but rather the things of men. As the Apostle Paul wrote:
      'And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of
      man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power;
      that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the
      power of God' (1 Cor 2, 4-5). If you wish to know what the Church
      is about, do not pick up a nationalist leaflet, or read the
      gutter press, but read the Lives of the Saints. In the same way,
      if you wish to live in the Church, do not imitate crude
      nationalists, or secular-minded journalists, but live as the
      saints. For the Church exists for this one reason only - to make
      saints. Any organization which does not do that, even though it
      may call itself a Church, is not the Church. And any individuals
      who do not have this as their aim, however weakly they may try to
      achieve it, do not belong to the Church.

      If individuals are corrupt, it is for us all the more to pray for
      them, not to try to destroy the Church on account of them. When
      the Anti-Church operates within the Church, as it always has done
      and always will do, it does not mean that the Church Herself is
      corrupt. When Judas operated among the Twelve, it is did not mean
      that Christ and the Eleven were corrupt. Nor did it mean that
      Judas had to commit suicide. Repentance was always open, as the
      Apostles Peter and Paul both well understood.

      The word 'scandal' is a Greek word: it means a stumbling block.
      And as the Apostle of the Gentiles wrote a long, long time ago: '
      We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, unto
      the Greeks (Hellenes) foolishness; but unto them which are
      called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the
      wisdom of God' (I Cor 1, 23-24). If today certain senior clergy
      of the Church of Greece have behaved foolishly - like the pagan
      Greeks (Hellenes) of old, then the Westernized secular media of
      Greece seem only to have created stumbling-blocks - like the Jews
      of old.

      Fr Andrew

      Feast of the Three Hierarchs
      30 January / 12 February 2005

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