Writer Nikos Dimou came in for criticism Wednesday for suggesting that the Holy Fire brought back from Jerusalem each Easter Saturday is not the result of a miracle and that Greece should not spend money on a jet to bring it to Athens.
A series of politicians from New Democracy, Independent Greeks and even the Communist Party (KKE) lined up to slam Dimou, who frequently questions traditional interpretations of Greek history and religion. KKE MP Liana Kanelli labeled Dimou “an Easter attraction, like ‘Ben Hur’ on TV.”
In his article on the Protagon.gr website, Dimou wrote that Christ would have probably helped the poor rather than pay to transport the Holy Fire over from Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
“As Easter approaches and I am reminded that we will again spend money on bringing the (supposed) Holy Fire, receiving it with the honors afforded to a head of state, I become a rabid anti-clericalist,” the author wrote.
The issue took on political implications as Dimou has publicly declared his support for the centrist party recently formed by journalist Stavros Theodorakis. Although not a member of To Potami, which will run in the May 25 European Parliament elections, Dimou is one of its highest-profile followers.
Theodorakis defended Dimou’s right to express his views. “I am running to become a politician, not a bishop,” said Theodorakis. “We should not seek to take advantage of people’s faith... it is not right for politicians to play on people’s religious sentiment,” he said.
Christian Orthodox faithful believe that the Holy Fire appears each Easter Saturday in Christ’s tomb, lighting the candles held by a small group of priests that enter. The flame is then flown back to Athens and distributed to churches via lamps.