Pantelis Boukalas PANTELIS BOUKALAS

Mixed roles

COMMENT

TAGS: Politics, Religion

It would be hard to disagree with comments made by the UN mediator in Greece’s name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Matthew Nimetz, who said Sunday that “there’s nothing totally new, there’s no new magic, we know what the problems are.”

If we could come up with a magical solution to the disputes that separate peoples and nations, then there would be no need for negotiations, for earnest talks or the honest pursuit of some form of compromise or a conciliatory formula.

None of the treaties or agreements that facilitate human affairs ever came out of the blue; none was the product of a miracle. After all, the institutions that owe much of their authority to miracles (or, rather, to talks of miracles), in other words the religions and the churches of this world, insist on using divisive and violent language, although that is usually disguised behind pleasant-sounding talk about “conciliation.”

As for Christianity, deeply divided between rival dogmas and heresies, and mired in conflict to do with power and control, it hardly lives up to its doctrine of universal reconciliation beyond nations and races.

Thus, it would be wrong to attempt to discuss ecclesiastical affairs (meaning the earthly, not the metaphysical stuff) in Biblical terms. In the gospels and the epistles of the apostles – particularly the father of missions, Paul – you will find no passages to support the concept of national religion or ecclesiastical-hierarchical practices bridging the distance between the national and the nationalist. That, however, did not really make a difference to Christianity in Europe or Greece. After all, if churches were exclusively identified with particular peoples or countries, then we would have to admit that as inspired as their leaders might be by God, they’re still products of history or, rather, bound by it. As a result, their evangelical or apostolic promises can only materialize in another, otherwordly life.

However, throughout history they have thrown their weight behind abominable, tyrannical regimes, and have given their blessing to wars and genocides (always in the service of some nation).

Do the clergy not have the right to speak their mind on secular affairs? Sure they do. What they do not have is the right to play a political role, to operate as leaders of a party that is trying to blackmail the state with fake nationalist outbursts, curses and anathemas. The flock is not made up of sheep but of citizens.

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