OPINION

Christians? Here in Greece?

Grammenitsa, Eleousa, Kalamia, Kosta-kioi, Rokka, Haikiades. These are all parishes in the prefecture of Arta. Parishes located near the legendary Arta Bridge. Parishes surrounded by orchards. Parishes with thousands of wretched migrants who work in the orchards. In every parish, there’s a priest, a vigilant priest, but we do not know their names. We do know the emotional plea they made in an open letter to their parishioners on New Year’s Day, published in Kathimerini’s English Edition yesterday, to embrace their needy foreign brethren, the children of Christ. The letter followed a nearly fatal fire at an abandoned chicken shed, where, on Christmas Eve, 120 Romanian laborers using it as shelter, were nearly burned alive. The letter decried the way the locals took advantage of the misery of others for their own gain. The priests’ harsh observation arises from the harsh reality, the callousness and hypocrisy of a society that was once poor and is now affluent, of smug opportunists, arrogant over-consumers. In making their plea, the priests have readdressed the role of the Church and of social solidarity, making a return to the roots of the social contract. They have also been bold enough to challenge their flock without pulling punches. They have reminded us that we are perpetrators, even by virtue of our passive neutral stance. They tell us about a sense of shame that we have long forgotten, the shame that should come from ignoring the suffering of another. The words of these anonymous priests – sharp, bold and modern – reconnect with the true spirit of the Bible: «Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? For sinners also love those that love them» (Luke 6:30-32).