Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Is there a priest in the house?

The Greek Orthodox Church has survived on its own since the 11th century, through wars and Turkish occupation. But it now faces the greatest threat of all -- "international lenders."
ATHENS, JULY 15 - The Greek government is being squeezed by international lenders to slash the salaries of about 9,500 priests to meet demands from international lenders to keep reducing expenditures, which could lead to resistance from the Church and clerics. There is no separation of Church and State in Greece. According to a report in the newspaper Parapolitika cited by GreekReporter, representatives of the lenders revived the proposal that had been set in 2011 to the government of then premier George Papandreou, according to which the state should stop paying the salaries of priests or at best to share it with the Church.
I had no idea the Greek state paid priests, and find the idea objectionable. But I am American, not Greek and not Orthodox (although I was very much taken with the dark and mysterious beauty of Orthodox churches I visited in Athens). Separation of church and state is one of the better developments to come out of the American and French revolutions. Still, it doesn't do to get wound up about it. Much of the most glorious and noble art in Western history was a product of an alliance between rich families (ironically, many of them bankers) and the Church in Renaissance Italy.

If the Greeks want to support their priests from the public purse, and Greek people are happy to wear the arrangement, then let it be. And it's no business of the international banking elite to tell them otherwise. Here is a sample of what the European monetary union has unleashed -- the relatively affluent countries making the rules that poorer countries can't meet, then acting as loan sharks. "Nice little church you got there, be a shame if something happened to it."

No doubt the Greek Orthodox Church involves a lot of politics and theological nonsense, but God still dwells in its house. The moneylenders that Jesus was so contemptuous of are unlikely to succeed where for a thousand years all the other threats from men have failed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps if the Greeks didn't try and live like Germans they wouldn't be buried under so much debt.