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EU requires Mt Athos to be equal access

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  • Reader Timothy Tadros
    2003.09.24 Washington Dispatch: From The Washington Dispatch Opinion Holy Places Exclusive commentary by
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 26, 2003
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      2003.09.24 Washington Dispatch:

      <http://www.washingtondispatch.com/article_6690.shtml>
      From The Washington Dispatch

      Opinion

      Holy Places

      Exclusive commentary by Paul M. Weyrich
      Sep 24, 2003

      When we hear about the Middle East, we frequently hear about the holy
      places that are important to religious believers. Some date back to
      the
      beginning of recorded history. There are holy places that are
      mentioned in
      both the Old and New Testaments. This is true about Israel and what
      may
      become Palestine and now we hear the same thing about Iraq. There are
      many
      shrines that Muslims regard as extremely holy. Iraqi tradition holds
      that
      Iraq was the Garden of Eden, the paradise created by God for man.
      Disobedience resulted in Adam and Eve's expulsion from the Garden.

      Well, there is a holy place for some Christians, which is not as well
      known
      as those in the Middle East, but which has been understood as sacred
      ground
      for more than one thousand years.

      I am referring to Mt. Athos. This holy mountain for Orthodox
      Christians is
      located on a peninsula in the northern part of Greece. It is occupied
      only
      by monks. In the Western church (mainly Roman Catholic) some monks
      teach
      or do social work or other kinds of worldly activism. In the Eastern
      Christian church (Orthodoxy) monks do only one thing. They pray.

      Various groups of Orthodox monks pray day and night for the world,
      for
      people who are ill, for troubled marriages, for all sorts of
      intentions. The fact that Mt. Athos is as little known as it is, is a
      tribute to the fact that these monks have not injected themselves
      into
      politics. They have never sought publicity.

      It is difficult to get to Mt. Athos. There are no motels or hotels on
      Mt.
      Athos. Visitors live the way the monks live. They have tiny rooms
      with
      just a bed and a chair. There are no private bathrooms. The reason to
      be
      there is simply to pray. The Divine Office is followed so that there
      are
      prayer services many times during the day and night. Those monks who
      are
      priests serve what is known as the Divine Liturgy. In the Western
      church
      that service is known as the Mass.

      Who could object to such an arrangement? The European Parliament,
      that's
      who. You see Mt. Athos is all male. Only males who are monks can
      reside
      there. Only males can visit.

      That violates today's extremist ideology. That ideology demands that
      there
      never be separation between the sexes. No all-boy schools. Not even
      boys'
      choirs. Even in athletics there is a challenge to the male domination
      of
      some sports.

      The European Union, when it was formed, adopted a position against
      discrimination of the sexes. But it granted an exemption to Mt. Athos
      because of its special status as a holy place. Now, however, the
      European
      Parliament is in the process of reconsidering that exemption.

      French (of course) Euro-deputy Fode Sylla has prepared a report
      recommending the end to the exemption because Mt. Athos is "an
      infringement
      on women's human rights." The only negative votes were cast by the
      Socialist government of Greece.

      Think about this. Just because women can't visit Mt. Athos, it is an
      infringement of women's human rights. See where this ideology has
      taken
      us? Women have a fundamental right to go to a place where they have
      not
      been able to go for 1,000 years. It is the business of the Orthodox
      Church
      if they want women or not. Just as in some Orthodox Jewish
      institutions
      women are not permitted. Remember the movie Yentil?

      But no, not in this enlightened age. The European Union believes it
      has
      the right to interfere with tradition, values, symbols and even
      religious
      faith. Mind you next, religions which do not have women ministers,
      including Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and in the USA, for
      example,
      Southern Baptists, will be judged guilty of discrimination. And in
      due
      course the UN will demand that these religions permit women to be
      ministers.

      These religions will say that they cannot do so because they follow
      the
      Scriptures and it is clear that women did not minister in the Old
      Testament
      church and women were not selected by Christ to be his apostles in
      the New
      Testament church.

      Well then, the Bible will have to be eliminated as the basis of these
      religions. The ideology against discrimination of women trumps all
      else. It is more important than God's word. And why not? To the
      people
      who push this ideology, God is an outmoded concept meant only for the
      weak
      and uneducated.

      I hope the Orthodox Church doesn't make any compromise on the Mt.
      Athos
      issue. What is the European Union going to do? Invade the monastery?
      The
      topography of Mt. Athos is such that any invading army would find
      conquering the area extremely difficult. Perhaps the EU will do what
      NATO
      did under the leadership of Gen. Wesley Clark. Maybe the EU will bomb
      the
      holy shrines just as it did the holy sites of Orthodoxy in Serbia.

      What does it matter if ancient churches are destroyed? Who cares if
      there
      are a few hundred dead monks? After all it is the ideology that is
      important. You see sovereignty does matter. The more EU nations cede
      authority to the EU, the more they will be confronted with
      ideology "über
      alles."

      But it may end up costing them. The Swedes said no to the Euro last
      week. Even Tony Blair's government is skeptical about the European
      Union.

      No, I believe if the Greek Orthodox Church and the Greek government
      hold
      firm it will be the EU that will fold. The majority of Euro-deputies
      may
      not believe in God, but in the end I believe they will be fearful of
      a
      confrontation with God's church. Most of these deputies are not
      atheists. They are agnostics. Which means they just aren't sure.

      Better not risk it.


      Paul M. Weyrich is Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation .
      © 2002 The Washington Dispatch. All Rights Reserved.
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