PM’s visit to Mt Athos canceled over atheism


Religious authorities on Mount Athos in northern Greece say that a scheduled visit last Wednesday to Karyes – the seat of the clerical and secular administration of the Orthodox monastic monastic state – by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was canceled because he has “declared himself an atheist.”

The decision to put off the visit was reached on Monday during a meeting of the Sacred Community, the highest authority on Mt Athos, which said it would only welcome Tsipras as a private citizen, but not in his official capacity as premier. They also accused him of legislating policies that hurt the Orthodox religion.

The hostility, emanating primarily from the community’s more conservative wing, began after Tsipras and his cabinet refused to swear on the Bible when they came to power. Before the Sacred Community convened on Monday, the premier’s office issued a statement saying the visit was canceled because of a “work overload.”

However, websites affiliated to Mt Athos denied that was the reason for the cancellation. Tsipras had planned to meet Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios, who is currently in Thessaloniki, at Karyes.