Archbishop blackmailed

The most blatant case of extortion in the Greek Church involved a former archbishop who was blackmailed by the State itself. The cause of the trouble was, of course, money, and the method of persuasion was an accusation of immorality against a cleric – always useful for its shock value. On January 14, 1962, the new Archbishop Iakovos Vavanatsos had just been enthroned and was heading a parade down Aghias Filotheis Street toward the archbishop’s mansion. However, in his enthronement speech he had made the mistake of announcing his plans for the Church which, if carried out, would have been disastrous for the National Bank of Greece. Within the space of two weeks, Iakovos – an extremely capable cleric – resigned after a number of attempts to blackmail him on immorality charges. A few years later, a court acquitted him, claiming the charges were completely unfounded.

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