NEWS

Greek Church organizations enter the digital age

The home page of Alexandroupolis Cathedral bears a message from its bishop, Anthimos, that links the nets used by the Biblical «fishers of men» to the most modern usage of the word. «So let us go back to our beginnings,» writes Anthimos, «perhaps there we will find man once again at the center of creation, not as its slave.» His view is typical of many Church of Greece officials who are setting up websites in an effort to attract young believers. State-of-the-art sites Apart from the Church of Greece, the Ecumenical Patriarchate and other Orthodox patriarchates, Mt Athos, many bishoprics and even churches have set up sites that are comparable to any others on the Web, with features such as a choice of Greek- or English-language pages, photos and modern graphics, with continually updated material and links. According to the head of the Church of Greece’s site, Panayiotis Drakopoulos, the Church’s official website receives 4,000 visitors a day – not bad at all for a Greek site. About 35 percent of those are from abroad. The site www.ecclesia.gr receives about 14 million hits a year (with each visit corresponding to 5-10 hits). According to Drakopoulos, the idea for the site’s creation was from Archbishop Christodoulos. Communication tool «The Internet is a great communication tool. In February-March 2005, when the Church was under attack from all sides, we were receiving 20,000 hits a day. What interests us is to create a cultural hub on the Internet,» he said. Almost at the same time the Church site appeared, another site, www.myriobiblos.gr, was set up. It is an electronic library with Orthodox tests and others from modern Greek literature that is visited by 2,500 people a day, 60 percent of whom are from abroad. «They send us e-mails, many of which are addressed to the archbishop personally. This year the Church’s online cultural center, www.artopos.gr, was set up with links to other sites with emphasis on the fine arts, music and the European debate.» The Ecumenical Patriarchate set up its own site (www.ec-patr.gr) about three-and-a-half years ago. «The site is the Patriarchate’s information portal. We had to adapt to the new age,» said Metropolitan Meliton of Philadelphia. It has been receiving 180,000 hits a year. Holy Mountain The Mt Athos site (www.mountathos.gr) has details on life in the monastic community, its monasteries and hermitages, as well as the treasures in the monasteries, from the icons to the handwritten manuscripts in its libraries. Its English-language version targets potential pilgrims and other visitors from abroad. Local churches Many of the Orthodox Church’s administrative regions have also seen the need to enter the digital age. The Metropolis of Fthiotida, for example, has one of the most up-to-date sites, enabling visitors to download hymns. The Paros-Naxos Metropolis has a secure site that allows people to make online donations for the construction of a home for the aged on the island of Paros. The Patras Metropolis site is linked live to its radio station and television channel. «Some efforts have been made to work together, but this hasn’t been possible yet. When we do, the results will be even better,» said Drakopoulos.