NEWS

Maximos on ‘things that never happened’

Why was Father Maximos accused of locking the church doors? «I’ve lived in an environment where the citizens, media and blogs have a different relationship, and the situation here puzzles me. Some people came here, I don’t know if they were from Chryssi Avghi,» he said, referring to the extreme right-wing group, «and I don’t want to label anyone, they are all God’s children. There were about 20 of them, middle-aged, not young, and one of them was very animated.» Apparently, the same man asked if he could speak to the priest, who promised to do so after the service, which he did. The man complained that Father Maximos had locked them and their families out. The priest explained that he had closed the western door to keep out the noise from the crowd outside the church during the service, leaving the side doors open. One of the men asked him not to preach a sermon on theology but to speak about the moves afoot to allow foreigners to acquire Greek citizenship. «’Brother,’ I said, «the first thing a priest must do is to speak on theology; interpret the Gospel for the people; harmonize the theological with their everyday struggle. I have spoken many times on the subject, and of course I have my own opinion.’» He told the group that if they were to organize an event he would willingly go and speak but he would tell them his opinion, which they then insisted on hearing. «I told them that first, as a priest, I believe that we must not use violence, we must not persecute anyone or hold racist views. Second, we must promote our civilization and intellectual gifts in a less vehement way, through cultural and intellectual events, giving any foreigner who wants to join in the chance to do so harmoniously. The animated fellow reacted and repeated what he had said. I told them I’d gladly speak to them, I didn’t want to exclude them, but that under no circumstances did I want to cause a disturbance in the church. At that moment, the Georgians were getting ready for their service, so I asked the group to leave, which they did. That evening newspapers and blogs reported that right-wing extremists had jeered at Father Maximos: «Strange things, because they never happened.»