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Viewpoint: Stop kissing the bishop’s hand

Tourism, like the vast sums earned by Greek museums, probably cover up a more insidious reality in the modern-day Greece of 2018.




The May 2018 international conference in Cephalonia was brimming with wisdom and smiles. I gave a talk but I also listened and learned. I felt good being Greek, especially from the Ionian islands and, more to the point, Cephalonia, the kingdom of Odysseus, my life-long hero.

Greeks of the Ionian islands from all over the world had come together to tell their stories – of war and peace, of history, archaeology, the environment, tourism, the continuing economic strangulation of Greece, of their crushed dreams in returning home to Ithaca.

The historians painted a picture of oppression and struggle. The Venetians and the British were unprincipled conquerors and colonialists.

The Venetians dominated the Ionian islands for centuries. They grabbed the islands from collapsing medieval Greece, which they (and their German and French allies) had dismembered during the Fourth Crusade of 1204.

Western European countries were ungrateful. Medieval Greece had taken the brunt of perpetual Mongol Turkish attacks alone for centuries, protecting Europe. In addition, Europeans allowed Christian religious bigotry to forget the civilization they had inherited from the Greeks through Rome. Clerical fanaticism had also divided Europe into East and West, the better for the Turks to finish off Greece decimated by Western aggression.

And once the Venetians took over the Ionian islands, they imposed their brutal way of life on the Greeks, including feudalism in the villages and tyranny. This differs little from conditions in Greece in 2018 run by unprincipled European and American agents of banks.

Listening to this medieval history and how outrageous the British were in the sixty or so years they governed the Ionian islands in the nineteenth century, it’s easy to understand today why the Greeks are putting up with the humiliations of foreign-imposed “austerity.”

Experts and the government have convinced the Greeks that any disruption of the present humiliations will bring hunger and chaos. A young urban Greek recounted the terror of going to the bank and not being able to withdraw more than 60 euros per day. Another said he was ashamed he was Greek.

Low self-esteem is always a product of humiliations and ignorance of history.

Of course, saying this from Cephalonia is almost meaningless. This beautiful and green island is in a world of its own, a world fudged by tourism. Tourists drop their coins everywhere in Cephalonia. Those euros keep the local economy of merchants, hotels, taxis, coffee shops and restaurants humming. But underneath the glitter and sleaze of tourism there are black holes of dependency on foreigners whose governments are just as guilty for the ills of Greece as Greek politicians.

Dependency on tourism has all but wiped out “autarkeia,” or self-reliance, especially in food. Cephalonian farmers no longer grow wheat. Imagine abandoning such a vital and civilization-supporting grain like wheat. Importing wheat flour is no solution. What happens in a natural calamity or war? Who is going to feed Cephalonia?

Tourism is also responsible for corruption. A presenter at the conference, Gerasimos Zacharatos, professor, University of Patras, raised the controversial question on what happens to the billions of income and spending from tourism in Greece. He said the growth of tourism in Greece in the last three years equaled to the growth of the last thirty years. So, where is this large infusion of capital and wealth going? Is it staying in Greece or are we seeing a colonial situation of large-scale corruption and exploitation?

Moreover, when tourist euros/dollars are as high as eighty-five percent of the local economy, what happens to philoxenia (hospitality)? In fact, is philoxenia compatible with the aggressive tourism of billions and tourists and other non-Greeks eyeing Greece as real estate on the block of “free” market?

Tourism, like the vast sums earned by Greek museums, probably cover up a more insidious reality in Greece of 2018.

The country is still largely living and behaving as if in the dark ages. It pains me to say this aloud. No matter where in Greece, a high cleric is an expected furniture in any ceremony or public celebration.

A couple of times in the conference in Cephalonia, I found myself sitting next to the bishop in the front row. The bishop was decked in black silk and gold, very much resembling a medieval prince. I ignored him and he did the same. But to my astonishment, I observed high officials and citizens entering the room and going straight to the bishop and kissing his hand.

Kissing the hand of the bishop might look innocent, an old and harmless tradition. In some sense, it is an old habit. But harmless, no.

Christianity replaced Greek polytheistic culture – the Greek gods – in the fourth century, some 1,600 years ago. The replacement was extremely violent and lasted for centuries. One gets an inkling of the violence in looking carefully at the statues in the Greek museums. Most of them are victims of intentional savagery. Some have no heads; some have broken of missing hands and limbs; most document vandalism. Their faces show strikes by swords. The Christians also mutilated the statues of heroes, heroines and female and male gods. They cut off or damaged the breasts of the females and cut off the phalluses of the males.

These atrocities are the tip of the iceberg of the Christian destruction of Greek civilization.

The victorious Christians, especially the high ecclesiastics, became the leaders of the converted Greeks.

Kissing the hand of the bishop draws from this tradition of Christian dominance over Greek “idolaters.” Kissing the hand of the bishop also mirrors the power of the church in present-day Greece. It shows the country is not secular. All clergy, including bishops, are employees of the state.

In a country crushed by foreign interests and domestic servants of those foreign interests, the church remains neutral. Yes, the church feeds thousands of hungry people every day. But where is its leadership on behalf of the country?

Time has come to stop kissing the hand of the bishop. His interests are not the interests of Greece.

Greeks must decide to take their fortunes in their hand, rejecting medieval ideologies of defeat and obedience. Greek intellectuals need also rise above fudged summaries of foreign ideologies, becoming self-reliant in order to face the world and lead their country to independence.

Start with Aristotle. He is a superb guide to understanding the world and the cosmos.

Opinions expressed are those of the author alone and may not reflect the opinions and viewpoints of Hellenic Insider, its publisher, its editors, or its staff, writers, and contributors.

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Greek Opposition Leader Mitsotakis Coming To Moscow For High Level Talks





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Archons of Greek Orthodox Church issue toothless letter about abortion law

The good news is the Archons did say some good things in reaction to the New York abortion law. But there was no consequence.

Seraphim Hanisch



In relation to our previously published piece about Governor Andrew Cuomo signing abortion into the New York State Constitution, we noted that at the time of the article’s writing, no entities within the Orthodox Church in any jurisdiction issued any kind of statement condemning this law. Of all fourteen universally acknowledged Local Churches, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Greek Orthodox Church was particularly of note, since their Archons awarded a humanitarian award known as the Athenogoras Award to extremely liberal, pro-abortion politicians, Andrew Cuomo being one of these.

Well, the Archons did issue a statement yesterday:

The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Condemns New York’s New Abortion Law

The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, strongly condemns the State of New York’s new Reproductive Health Act that was passed on January 22, 2019. This new law allows abortions up to the moment of birth and gives people who are not doctors the right to perform abortions.

The Order also deplores the celebratory atmosphere surrounding the new law, as One World Trade Center was lit pink to commemorate the passage of the law, as if it represented a great advance for the rights of women. The rights of no human being are ever advanced at the expense of another. The State of New York will not truly have respect for the rights of women until it once again restores legal protections for every human being, from his or her first moment of existence until natural death.

Hailed as progress, New York’s Reproductive Health Act is not actually an advance, but a regression, a return to a time of barbarism when the weak were at the mercy of the strong and had no protection from legal structures or governing authorities.

The Order implores New York’s legislators to reconsider this dangerous new law and reinstitute protections for all human life, no matter how weak and vulnerable. Only when such protections exist can any society truly prosper.

Rev. Alexander Karloutsos
Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
Spiritual Advisor of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle

Is this enough?

It does not seem to be so. Governor Cuomo and his award, along with pro-abortion Roman Catholic Vice President Joe Biden, also received this award at the same time Governor Cuomo did.

What did not happen in this letter was that neither politician was named, nor were the four (out of five) Greek Orthodox politicians in the New York State Assembly that voted FOR this law.

Neither did the Archons move to rescind the Athenagoras Awards they gave to Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Biden. This move appears to be still far too politically calculated, and keeping with the tragic, curious and distressing behavior of the leadership within the Ecumenical Patriarchate. is a popular blog site whose editor, George Michalopulos, is undoubtedly one of the giants among those Greek Orthodox who seriously uphold at the notion that the Church ought never compromise herself. Yet, he was very happy with the letter that is shown above because for him it represented a “180-degree turnabout” in terms of the history of the Archons’ behavior, which he noted elsewhere as smacking of “the feeling that their primary job is to raise money for Istanbul.”

He neglected to mention the lack of mention of the Awards, but perhaps understandably, his surprise at any sort of traditional statement by this group was leading to exuberance where perhaps it is not deserved.

The Greek Orthodox Church seems to have an overall alignment with very liberal figures, and it is unclear as to why. But this tendency of people that are considered good and faithful Greek Orthodox churchgoers to align with liberal politics in the United States is very different than the sharply conservative tendencies of Russian Orthodox churchgoers, or Greeks or Romanians in the US.

The other rather liberal church is the US is the Orthodox Church in America, but this group does tend to involve itself in social causes in the US – especially abortion – in a very conservative, if rather feeble, manner. They do make their presence known at the annual March for Life and this is of great value.

We wish to name all the Greek Orthodox elected New York assembly members here, with their votes regarding the state abortion measure:

Michael Gianaris             (D) (co-sponsor)   – Yes.
Andrew Gounardes         (D) (co-sponsor)   – Yes.
Nicole Malliotakis           (R)                            – No. (and she is a woman!!)
Aravella Simotas             (D)                            – Yes.
James Skoufis                  (D) (co-sponsor)   – Yes.

This measure enshrined abortion at any point in a woman’s pregnancy as a constitutional right. The law stipulates several following procedures are now “rights:”

  • The law allows non-physicians to perform abortions.
  • The law allows abortion through the third trimester.
  • and the law repeals protections for babies that survive abortions (this means that if the baby gets delivered alive, it will still be killed.)

This is a barbaric law, and a resounding victory for people aligned with some very dark ideas about life and death. It is a tragedy, and while the Archons’ letter condemning it is at least a token statement, it really wants a full-throated response from the Christian world.

In fact, even Muslims and religious Jewish people ought to be outraged as well. All the Abrahamic religions understand that only God is the author of life. In this viewpoint, people do not themselves create life. We only cooperate with God to bring it into existence, by his blessing.

But we can cause death, and this power is influenced by forces that are not interested in God, traditional values, family, children or anything of the sort.

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Greek MPs pass Prespes deal with 153 votes in 300-seat House

Opinion polls indicate that most Greeks oppose the settlement, a fact which may not bode well for Tsipras in an election year.

The Duran



Via Ekathimerini

Greece’s parliament on Friday ratified a landmark accord that changes the name of neighbouring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), ending a decades-old dispute and opening the way for the ex-Yugoslav republic to join the European Union and NATO.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who hammered out the deal with his FYROM counterpart last year, secured the parliamentary majority needed to get the accord approved with support from independent and opposition lawmakers.

“Today we are writing a new page for the Balkans. The hatred of nationalism and conflict is giving way to friendship, peace, and cooperation,” Tsipras wrote on his social media account.

FYROM has already ratified the deal, brokered last year, and its prime minister promptly sent a tweet hailing the Greek parliament’s vote.

The settlement seeks to end a 28-year old row between Athens and Skopje over the use of the term “Macedonia” by renaming the tiny Balkan state “Republic of North Macedonia” to differentiate it from Greece’s northern province of Macedonia.

Greece’s European Union allies welcomed the ratification.

“They had imagination, they took the risk, they were ready to sacrifice their own interests for the greater good,” European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted. “Mission impossible accomplished.”

Opinion polls indicate that most Greeks oppose the settlement, a fact which may not bode well for Tsipras in an election year. A general election is due by October, and his party is trailing the opposition New Democracy by up to 12 points.

The debate in the Greek parliament was heated, with voting almost interrupted on Friday when an MP for the right-wing Golden Dawn Party, asked to cast his vote, responded: “No to treason!”

Several MPs in favour of of the accord reported attempts to intimidate them.

Many Greeks fear the agreement could lead to territorial claims against Greece and say it constitutes an appropriation of their country’s ancient cultural heritage. Macedonia was the birthplace of Alexander the Great.

Protests against the deal have at times turned violent this week, and on Thursday evening police fired teargas to disperse crowds outside parliament. Smaller groups of people braved heavy rain on Friday to demonstrate outside the parliament.

New Democracy slammed the agreement.

“This deal should never have been signed or brought to parliament for ratification,” party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis told parliament. “It is a national defeat … a national blunder that is an affont to the truth and history of our country.”

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