OPINION

A rock in difficult times

Archbishop Ieronymos takes charge of the Church of Greece at a crucial time for the Church and Greece. The world has changed radically in the past few years. The Greeks remain the most devout people in Europe and the Church is not in any danger of dying out. But as a people and as individuals, we face pressures that will determine the future relationship of the clergy with the people and of the various groups in the country. With one in 10 residents a migrant or the child of migrants, with the breakdown of extended family and neighborhood networks, with oppressed minorities (such as homosexuals) being subject to bigotry, with high loan payments plaguing more and more people, the Church will have to fall back on its traditional role – comforting the desperate, supporting the weak, bringing to their senses the proud and the vain. After years of intensive political activity, the Church will gain if it promotes its social work and if it mediates in every way possible to achieve the harmonious coexistence of all the country’s residents. With the message of love that it has a duty and a right to express, the Church will be able give the Greeks greater self-confidence and enable them to see their neighbors, other religions, and every «other» with greater understanding. In our time, institutions are being tested as never before. Political parties, the judiciary and the press are undermined by the fact that they seldom live up to the image the people have of them. The Church – as a concept, as an institution – can escape this: It grows stronger the more humble it becomes when it expresses love for the other. The Church survived through the centuries, and the people stayed close to it, not because it played a political role, which it often did, but because, more often, it was a rock in difficult times.