By Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Messinia*
A different voice regarding the role of the Church, and its active participation in the FYROM naming issue demonstrations, is that of Metropolitan bishop Chrysostomos of Messinia, who courageously expresses with essential arguments his opposition to the mass rallies. To Vima today is publishing his viewpoint, which expresses the voice of logic, in lieu of the daily editorial.
The Church of Greece has indeed in the past organised demonstrations and popular assemblies. Although one could argue that back then both the rhetoric and the manner of organisation afforded the Church some justification, nonetheless it paid for them many decades later very dearly.
I would not be doing an injustice to historical accuracy if I were to argue that the returns were quite low, as compared to the “struggle”, and the damage quite high, as compared to the Church’s objectives.
At the current juncture, the entire organisation of the demonstrations is different and alien to the entire institution of the Church. Its coordination moves in a blurry terrain, of the exploitation of the indisputable and unswerving opposition of the Greek people to the use of the name Macedonia by Skopje.
For this reason, I dare raise in good will certain questions and concerns:
Who are the non-institutional organisers of the demonstration? They are presidents of organisations and groups, which obviously represent a segment of our people. Is the Church then allowed to stand by them as a servant?
Are we forgetting that the Church represents the whole and not a part, with which it cannot identify itself?
– Whom do the unknown co-organisers, who want to exploit the official Church and to drag it along to satisfy their political objectives, alibis and aims, represent?
– Who are these irresponsible speakers, whom certain bishops authorise thoughtlessly to read their personal message to the rally? What do they supposedly represent and in what capacity do they approach in a provocative manner the primate and hierarchy of the Church of Greece, inviting the hierarchs to attend their demonstrations?
– What is this ecclesiologically null trade unionist organisation of priests-clergy, which encourages clergymen to attend a demonstration about which the Church has already decided institutionally. Where is the canonical approval of bishops, to whom these clergymen belong, canonically and ecclesiologically? Do you not see dear friends that in this way the handing of the affair expresses a complete ecclesiological protestantisation with a Presbyterian and at the same time civil service-style priesthood, which in terms of the sacred canons is unfounded.
As all others, I view as a given and respect the right of every Greek citizen to participate in any demonstration, in order to express in the most dynamic manner the popular will about this specific naming issue.
However, should the institutional support of the Church be sought, and indeed with the participation or presence of bishops? This is an entirely secularised perception of the function of the ecclesiastical body as regards ”the things of the world”.
When that secularisation involves a protestantisation of our ecclesiastical ethos, then we are in danger of being altered ecclesiologically and to be degraded into a servant of various groups, often with unknown ideologies, positions, principles, and motives.
Hence, I believe that any enthusiastic tendencies must be limited, so as to guard the institutional role of the Church in society.
The historic, decisive and pioneering role of the Church in the battles of the Nation are not recognised or honoured in demonstrations. The survival of that role and its recognition by history diachronically is more than enough.
When the demonstrations are organised in order to serve personalities and ulterior motives, domestically and abroad, then the Church cannot have any reason for participating, or for finding a way to be present.
Let us think a bit more, and consider the future of the institution of the Church, and not the evolution and satisfaction of personal ambitions and visions!!!
* Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Messinia is a professor of theology at the University of Athens