Church politics

Even those who question the morality and benevolence of top churchmen have been struck by the extent to which the dispute between Archbishop Christodoulos and Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios has escalated recently. The public image of the squabbling clerics was already pathetic but has become even more so with the appearance on television of certain clerics from both camps. The one sure thing is that things cannot go on like this. Until a solution is found, tensions need to be defused so that the Church’s authority is not harmed any further. Both sides need to realize, in their deeds, the message of peace that the Church promotes in all other situations. In particular, Vartholomaios’s assertion that the Church is more free in Turkey than it is in Greece was an unpleasant surprise for whoever respects and supports the patriarch. I am not familiar with canonical law. However, the current crisis also has a political dimension. This would not have developed had it not been for the controversy over whether to include citizens’ religion on identity cards. Those in the know are aware that Simitis’s government tried to undermine the influence of Archbishop Christodoulos and gave the green light to dissenting clerics to publicly oppose him. More significantly, however, in order to balance out Christodoulos’s influence on society, it exhorted the patriarch to get involved in Greek domestic affairs.