OPINION

Sterilization syndrome

In a properly functioning country, any responsible government would take immediate action to develop a stance regarding a crisis in the church: Education and Religion Minister Marietta Giannakou, possibly also Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, would meet with Archbishop Christodoulos, discuss developments and make an assessment. But such a meeting has not taken place. The government seems to be forming its opinion of the crisis by watching television debates on the subject or through «middlemen» who go back and forth between the archbishopric and Maximos Mansion. The situation is hardly original, as the government not only refuses to get involved in the crisis but also to be reliably informed about it. Essentially, it is a type of «sterilization» syndrome. Seeing as they have no desire to get their hands dirty, let the government and other political parties avoid any involvement and responsibility, and let senior churchmen face the challenge themselves, without excessive sentiment and personal bitterness, on the basis of the hard facts. The crisis started with press revelations about a certain cleric who is now being held for alleged illegal antiquities trading. Three weeks later, however, the target appears to have shifted to the archbishop himself who is being blamed for having come into contact with a suspect. Those who regard the Church as a club for the elite or a party organization where members must pledge their faith in specific ideologies are entitled to have doubts and feel outrage. But senior clerics know that the role of any church leader is primarily to care for criminals and outcasts. Archbishop Christodoulos was undoubtedly a target of Costas Simitis’s government, has rivals in the Holy Synod who would like to see him deposed and has probably made some mistakes in his time. Nevertheless, our churchmen must rally together because, regardless of their personal differences, they know that it is not just the archbishop’s fate that is at stake but the fate of the Church of Greece itself. The dire crisis of the past few weeks should also prompt the review of a long-standing tactic – that of churchmen backing MPs in order to secure political support for themselves. None of our politicians condemned the inactivity of political parties that allowed the Church to be dragged through the mud due to the scandalous behavior of a few clerics. Moreover, the Church has no responsibility to answer to any self-appointed «purgers» and neither should clerics be obliged to join televised debates… This crisis is an opportunity for renewal, for clerics to realize the influence of the Church, and for a reassessment of our political system which is peopled by insecure individuals concerned only with their reelection.