Here is the crisis, where is the state?

The flood of corruption allegations against clergymen that has thrown the Greek Church into deep crisis, and the dubious methods employed by the bickering bishops, raise serious questions over the protection of people’s democratic rights and the smooth functioning of a state that is supposedly governed by the rule of law. There should be no doubt that the ecclesiastical crisis is both deep and acute. To be sure, the institution’s ability to cleanse itself of corruption is limited – a failing that reinforces calls for state institutions to intervene swiftly against the clergy’s criminal offenses. Having said that, it should be emphasized that the attempts to accustom the public to illegal means of surveillance raise serious concerns about respect for people’s democratic freedoms. In an unreservedly provocative way, there is an ongoing, television-based attempt to legitimize, in the viewers’ minds, a complex underworld in which the wiretapping of people’s personal moments is rife, with the aim of undermining or blackmailing the victims. The threat against our democracy is even bigger, as the products of these illegal tactics are allowed – in a context of state apathy – to indicate the targets of the reform campaign, in line with the whims and desires of the interests they serve. Why has the state remained passive in the face of this burgeoning shower of allegations? Why has the Radio and Television Council (ESR) – which has always (and rightly) been keen to punish the vulgarities exposed in sensational afternoon tell-all shows – failed to take any measures? Why did the otherwise sensitive Data Protection Authority, which protested against publication of the names of journalists holding state-sector jobs, deem that a bishop’s sexual activity need not be protected by the personal data protection law (regardless of whether such behavior is deemed «unethical» under Church rules)? Such selective intervention constitutes a dereliction of duty on behalf of these institutions and of people’s individual rights. The political leadership and the Education and Religion Ministry ought to take drastic action, for it bears political responsibility for developments inside the Church body. It seems we are in for some difficult times.

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