Prelate lashes out at ‘idolater’

Relations between the head of the Church of Greece and the small Synaspismos left-wing party deteriorated further yesterday, with Archbishop Christodoulos offering to apologize for calling the party’s leader an «idolater» as long as the «fundamentalists of atheism» mended their manners in the future. The original «idolater» jibe followed Synaspismos (Left Coalition) leader Nikos Constantopoulos’s remark, on Easter Sunday, that Greeks were celebrating «creativity and spring.» In an interview in yesterday’s Sunday Eleftherotypia, the archbishop argued that Constantopoulos «purposefully provoked the Greek people’s religious feelings… by saying Easter Sunday is the day of spring and flowers and I do not know what else.» Identifying himself as the atheist fundamentalist in question, Constantopoulos retorted that Christodoulos’s «slanderous, politically-tinged attack and his provocative and divisive manner» targeted the left in general. Alluding to the archbishop’s self-admitted ignorance – at the time – of the excesses of the 1967-74 dictatorship, he added that Christodoulos «seems to have absorbed the spirit and ideology of that period.» Finally, as regards the issue of Europe’s nascent rapid reaction force, Greece’s political leaders believe that alterations in the so-called Ankara document are imperative. This text was drawn up after extra-institutional consultations by the United States, Great Britain and Turkey, adopted by all of Greece’s EU and NATO partners, and gives Ankara (and all other NATO members that are not also EU members) the ability to play a substantial role in the planning of EU military operations.