‘I know not the man’

Apostolos Vavilis, a man of two faces and five names – among them, how arrogant, Apostolos Pavlos (Apostle Paul) – is not a character from a movie or a detective novel. In plain clothes or cassock, with or without a beard, and despite being wanted by Interpol and the Greek police, Vavilis managed to build close and lucrative ties with several state bodies and institutions – the police, secret service, ministries, the local administration. His success speaks volumes about the transparency of these institutions. If Vavilis styled himself as the Apostle Paul, those who are now revealed in photos and video footage as his friends and associates, as his «spiritual fathers» or «brothers in Christ,» are choosing the way of another apostle: Peter. And in the absence of any other response to the disturbing questions, we are hearing from the lips of many officials a horrified denial without any sense of the guilt that haunted him for having difficulty in declaring his faith: «I know not what thou sayest.» «I do not know the man,» and again, «I know not the man.» The cock began crowing long ago. Its crowing is not incoherent but clear, at least to those who use their ears to listen and not to support the tiara as a symbol of power. The politicians who like to involve themselves in the affairs of the clergy and vice versa have undermined both religion and politics, lowering the God of their faith to the level of party leader. Those who, out of self-interest, legitimized the archbishop’s meddling with secular affairs and fanned his ambitions cannot afford to keep silent, placing confidence in a self-purification that will lead nowhere; nor can they rehash Peter’s utterance «I know not the man,» this time meaning the archbishop. Until we divide the State and the Church, we should at least separate the collection plate from the ballot box.

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