In Greece, a massive scandal has rocked the Orthodox Church. Several Bishops have been accused of trial-fixing, embezzlement, sex escapades and drug dealing. The head of the church, Archbishop Christodoulos, has lost the confidence of the public, with Greek society evenly split on whether he should resign. Polls show that for the first time ever there's wide support for the separation of church and state, unheard of in a country that is 97% Greek Orthodox and where the church has traditionally been credited with helping Greeks maintain their ethnic identity through five hundred years of Ottoman occupation.
I don't want to bore you with the details of the scandal, you can read all about it here, but here's what's troubling me: Vavilis, a key figure in this scandal and a man with murky connections to the Greek state and Archbishop Christodoulos, has told the press he had the Archbishop's backing when he conducted a dirty tricks election campaign for the current Jerusalem Patriarch Irineos. Archbichop Christodoulos denies this, but Irineos confirms that Vavilis was sent to him by Archbishop Christodoulos.
The Greek Orthodox Church is the oldest, richest and most powerful church in Jerusalem. As head of the Greek Orthodox Church, Irineos is responsible for its extensive land holdings, including the land on which the Knesset was built, the Prime Minister's and the President's official residences, parts of Jerusalem's wealthiest neighborhoods and many locations in the Old City.
(On a parenthetical note - isn't it funny how Jews manage to control the world but don't seem to have a very good handle on their own real estate?)
Irineos originally was appointed as the Jerusalem patriarch in September 2001 but Israel withheld approval because of his suspected support for Arafat. Israel had good reason. Here's an excerpt from a letter sent by Patriarch Irineos to Arafat:
"You are finally aware of the sentiments of disgust and disrespect that all the Holy Sepulcher Fathers are feeling for the descendants of the crucifiers of our Lord Jesus Christ, actual crucifiers of your people, Sionists (sic) Jewish conquerors of the Holy Land of Palestine.Patriarch Irineos denied that he wrote this and he sued Ma'ariv, the newspaper that originally published the letter, but withdrew his lawsuit soon after and paid the newspaper's legal expenses. As Caroline Glick wrote in her January 30, 2004 column (from Frontpage Magazine - The Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem and Terror):
"Irineos has claimed that the letter is a forgery, but a police investigation, which was closed two weeks ago, substantiated its authenticity. Sources close to the investigation say that three people were with Irineos when he penned the letter and all provided testimony to the police that the letter was authentic."And who can forget his former spokesman Attallah Hanna who was urging Arab Christians to join forces with Muslims and take part in suicide attacks against Israel? The Patriarch supposedly distanced himself from Hanna, but during the 2003 Easter celebration, Irineos "greeted Hanna with kisses and hugs, seated him to his right and had him translate his Greek remarks into Arabic for the audience."1
... the traditional attitude of the Greek Orthodox Church, which unlike the Roman Catholic Church, has not yet absolved the Jews for their alleged responsibility for the death of Jesus or removed such references from its liturgy. During Easter Holy Week, for example, the Jews are repeatedly called Theoktoni (God killers) and “an impious and illegitimate people."Here's how life is for a rabbi in Greece3:
Rabbi Mordechai Frisis' calling in life: "to save the remnant of Salonika's once-vibrant Jewish community from extinction… Living in Greek society is no easy task for a religious Jew, as anti-Semitism is rampant. I walk around with a cap because there have really been some problems. There is antisemitism in Greece," the rabbi notes. More than a year ago, while visiting the community, Frisis was attacked and physically beaten at the city's train station… "Greece is a very traditional Christian society, and they blame the Jews for killing Jesus. There are still people who believe that Jews drink the blood of Christians on Pessah."
|Anti-Semitic Cartoons in the Greek Press|
|(Eleftherotypia daily newspaper) |
Someone in the background: "Do you think that the Lord may be related to Hamas? Every time he is resuscitated they kill him again". (the killers walking away are an Israeli and a US soldier)
|(In Eleftherotypia, after the assassination of Sheikh Yassin)|
The woman asks: “Why did the Jewish Government kill a religious leader?" The man answers, “They are practicing for Easter."