Monday, February 19, 2024

Interview With Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos on the Same-Sex Marriage Bill in Greece

Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou calls those who voted for the same-sex "marriage" bill to assume their responsibilities towards the Orthodox people and God. Speaking exclusively to and the journalist Demetris Stroumbakos, His Eminence referred to this unprecedented law for Greece. At the same time, he does not hide his sadness for the way in which the final outcome of the vote was interpreted by the International Mass Media.

Below are excerpts of what His Eminence said in the telephone interview:

Metropolitan Hierotheos, with his deeply theological words and his always substantiated opinion, said the following referring to the passing of the bill:

"The night the bill was passed was difficult. It is unprecedented because our country is Orthodox. I was saddened when I read that all the international media said that Greece is the first Orthodox country to legalize same-sex marriage and adoption. They also said that all this happened despite the strong reaction of the Church. I was very sad."

"Is it progressive for our society to satisfy some rights? Tomorrow if someone comes and says I have rights for polygamy, which will surely come, will it become a law? Is this good? Is it progress? The Church did her duty with knowledge, dignity, unity and decency."

Regarding the attitude of the MPs who voted for the bill, but at the same time present themselves as faithful members of the Church, he said:

"Politicians are elected by the Orthodox people to vote on laws. They are members of the Church. They come to the temples and say the 'I Believe', the 'Lord's Prayer'. However, there is an issue with those who voted for the bill and the Church will deal with it. Since they are members of the Church, they live in an anti-ecclesiastical way. We see people who want to be called Christians, denying in practice what Christianity stands for. Those who voted for the bill assume a great responsibility towards the Orthodox People and God. There are the laws of the State, but there are also the Spiritual laws, as Saint Paisios says. Some people were happy about this bill, but the majority of people were very sad."

His Eminence also commented on the proverb used by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, "ἢ παπᾶς παπᾶς ἢ ζευγᾶς ζευγᾶς" (If a priest, be a priest; if a ploughman, a ploughman):

"The proverb is ascribed to Kolokotronis, when he saw a priest that was supposed to join in the struggle for the nation instead stop to help a widow who lost her ploughman husband to plough for her, so Kolokotronis said to the priest this proverb. The proverb 'If a priest, be a priest; if a ploughman, a ploughman', reminds us that the clergy fought for this land and gave their blood. When we had a financial crisis for ten years, the Church helped as it should. The Church helps in many areas, as it did also during the pandemic. The Church is always in the front lines. But is this all that the Church is good for? Do they consider the Church to be a social organization? When a serious issue comes up, they say 'If a priest, be a priest; if a ploughman, a ploughman'. Is the Church a branch of the Ministry of Education? This is a serious issue. No one can speak disparagingly of the Church. But they don't respect the theology of the Church. They don't respect the traditions of the Church. I have great respect for the Red Cross. I was president for many years of the Red Cross in Nafpaktos. But the Church is not that kind of an organization. She is something higher. She gives meaning to the lives of people. She gives them their salvation. To help mankind participate in the life of Christ and victory of Christ over death and thus grant them victory over death, the devil and sin. This is the purpose of the Church."

Metropolitan Hierotheos did not take a stand only with the passing of the bill. He also spoke about the need that exists, more than ever, for the Church to turn to its own. To seriously consider the issue of secularization:

"We need calmness and sobriety. Also, we must look at the issue of secularization, which has entered the ecclesiastical life, the Pastoral Ministry and the Theology of the Church, which are diminished due to living up to worldly standards. The boundaries between the Church and the world are disappearing. Let's think seriously about our own things too, such as defining what exactly the Church is, what is the purpose of the Church, what is the work of the Church, what makes someone a Christian, how does one express their Christian life, is baptism alone sufficient, what is secularism, to what extent can secularism affect the operation of the Church?" 
"The Church endured persecution for many years and will endure just as it did during the Turkish rule. We are not afraid. There is no fear. The Church is the Body of Christ. She is never lost. The gates of Hades cannot overcome her. But we have to be careful of the issue of change. Change in the name of progress is the problem."

Asked, finally, what he will do if he encounters a Member of Parliament who voted for the bill, he replied:

"If I meet Members of Parliament who voted for the bill, I will speak to them with love and not aggression. However, they pass laws such as abortion and this same-sex marriage bill. But is it possible for them to go and pass laws and not express the wishes of their voters? To pass anti-ecclesiastical laws, and to consider that they are also Christians? However, this concerns all of us. We say that we are Christians, but unfortunately it is not valid."

Hear the whole interview below: