Outcome of the Pope's visit to Cyprus and Greece, Part I

The Pope has visited Orthodox Greece for the second time in five years. Photo: UOJ

The popes have been to Greece 3 times in history, with Francis making two visits. He also visited Cyprus. What is the reason for such activity in the "Greek" direction?

On December 2–6, 2021, Pope Francis paid an official visit to Greece and Cyprus. The head of the Roman Catholic Church arrived in these countries at the invitation of the state authorities, as well as local conferences of Catholic bishops. From 2 to 4 December, Pope Francis stayed in Cyprus and then went to Greece, where he made a visit to Athens and the island of Lesbos.

On December 6, he flew to Rome. It would seem that this is quite a working visit, which the current pope makes quite a lot, and there is nothing to talk about but for several notable details that preceded and accompanied the Pope's Greek-Cypriot voyage.

Suffice it to say that this is the second trip of Francis to Greece in the last 5 years and the third visit of the head of the Vatican to this country in the last 1,000 years. In other words, before the current head of the RCC, only one pope came to Greece after the Catholic Church fell away from Orthodoxy. Therefore, such an outspoken interest of Pope Francis in Greece and Cyprus cannot but be striking.

Just as his two meetings with the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Jerome, and one with the Primate and Synod of the Cypriot Orthodox Church, cannot remain unnoticed. In addition to these meetings, the Roman pontiff has traditionally paid many visits to the heads and high-ranking officials of Cyprus and Greece, and also paid a lot of attention to issues that do not directly affect the interests of the Roman Throne. So what were the real reasons for the pope's four-day visit to these two Orthodox countries?

Preparation of the union?

Addressing the Greeks and Cypriots a few days before his visit, the Pope announced that he was going to visit these two countries “as a pilgrim”. At the same time, he emphasized that he was going to Greece and Cyprus "in the footsteps of the first great missionaries, especially the Apostles Paul and Barnabas," since "it is good to return to the origins, and it is important for the Church to rediscover the joy of the Gospel". It is clear that Orthodoxy has not closed the gospel to itself, and these words apply rather to the RCC. But the reference to the “origins” (to the undivided Church) is already related to Orthodoxy. That is why the Pope continued: "By meeting you, I will quench my thirst in the springs of brotherhood, so precious now when we have just begun the worldwide synodal journey."

Addressing directly Archbishop Jerome and Archbishop Chrysostomos, the Pope appealed to the “apostolic brotherhood” and “one faith”, which should lead to a meeting with the heads of the Cypriot and Greek Churches.

In other words, the main reason for the pope's visit to Cyprus and Greece is to conduct certain negotiations aimed at a "synodal journey" towards unity with Rome.

The main reason for the pope's visit to Cyprus and Greece is to conduct certain negotiations aimed at a "synodal journey" towards unity with Rome.

Ask why, as a matter of fact, doesn’t Patriarch Bartholomew conduct such negotiations? And who said he doesn't? He conducts and does this quite actively. But the head of the Phanar has completely different powers and capabilities than the Pope. For example, he cannot promise Greece the protection of the "powers that be" in exchange for certain services, while the Pope can and does promise. And, most importantly, at least partially, he keeps his promises. It is not for nothing that the U.S. government has stated several times in the last year alone that Greece is the leading partner of the United States in the Mediterranean region. To say this with the not-so-peaceful Erdogan before your eyes is not unimportant.
For the Greeks themselves, such cooperation is extremely beneficial, because it gives them a sense of security in the face of Turkey. However, for such "cooperation" one have to pay and sacrifice something, including the purity of faith, which has happened more than once in history. So the pope's visit fits well into the framework of certain "trade" agreements that the United States is conducting with the "pocket" Phanar, trying to unite the incompatible – Orthodoxy and Catholicism.

Attitude towards union with Rome in Greece

However, the Greek Orthodox clergy (their traditional wing) are not happy with this prospect. A few months before the Pope's visit, Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus protested, accusing papism of numerous heresies and complicity with fascism.

And just a week before Pope Francis's arrival, the same Metropolitan Seraphim wrote an angry appeal in which he called the pontiff's visit to Greece "problematic", since Roman Catholicism has a "heretical, spiteful and unrepentant character, disregards international law and shows only false nobility towards our holy martyr Church”.

As an example of such a lie, Metropolitan Seraphim cited the "canonization" by Pope Francis of the "humanoid monster", Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac from Zagreb, "convicted by the World War II Crimes Tribunal as an instigator of the horrific and martyrdom of thousands of Orthodox Serbs." In addition, Metropolitan Seraphim recalled that not so long ago Francis showed "flagrant disrespect" to the Church of Greece, appointing "to the throne in the centre of Athens, a Spanish Benedictine Roman Catholic ‘priest’, Fr Emmanuel, as the alleged "Greek Orthodox Bishop of Karakavia", a non-existent Greek community."

The cry of indignation of the Metropolitan of Piraeus was somewhat heard, and the pope did not meet with the synodals of the GOC, nor did he hold a single "ecumenical" prayer in either Cyprus or Greece. Although, in principle, he could hardly count on this since, according to a UGCC cleric living in Aristotle's homeland, Greek priests never participate in any Catholic or Uniate events, despite living in tolerant Europe.

While the higher hierarchy was still trying to somehow preserve its "diplomatic face" and pretend to be happy to see the Pope, the ordinary clergy and the people did not hide their attitude toward him.

Thus, during the Pope’s visit to the Athenian Archdiocese of the GOC, a respected Greek priest, missionary and theologian John Diotis publicly declared several times that the Pope is a heretic who must repent. Interestingly, the elderly priest (he is already over 80 years old) was immediately attacked by several police officers who knocked him to the ground. Here is how he himself told about the incident: “I tell them – well, guys, for what, what am I to blame? To be escorted to the police, I must be a suspect in a particular misconduct. Tell me what wrong I did. I just said that he is a heretic and must repent. They could not answer me."

Indeed, what is the priest who called the pope a heretic blamed for? Nothing. And even the Greek police understand this. The problem is that many Greek bishops do not understand this, and most importantly, they do not understand it in the Phanar. That is why Patriarch Bartholomew, before the Pope's visit to Greece and Cyprus, declared that the 21st century is the century of the restoration of unity between the RCC and Orthodoxy, and the Pope called for breaking the “wall of prejudice” with Orthodoxy, as he longs for Eucharistic communion with the Orthodox.

The Pope called on the Cypriot Church for "the full unity with Catholics".

Apparently, the beginning of the struggle against "prejudices" was precisely the case for the Cypriot and Greek Churches. Thus, the Pope called on the Cypriot Church for “the full unity with Catholics”, and speaking to the Primate of the Greek Church, he apologized for all the mistakes committed by his predecessors and Catholics in general: “I admit that actions and decisions that have little or no relation to Jesus and the Gospel but rather based on greed and power, have weakened our communion with each other. (...) History has its weight, and here today I feel the need to again ask God and our brothers and sisters with a request for forgiveness for the mistakes committed by so many Catholics."

Pay attention – not a word about dogmas as the main reasons for the schism between Catholics and Orthodox Christians, but only words about "prejudice", "greed for profit" and "lust for power". That is, according to the Pope, these are the issues that need to be resolved for the much-desired unity with the Orthodox to take place? Apparently, so.

However, completely different sentiments reign among the Christian believers in Greece. For example, a few months ago a Greek-speaking Roman cardinal visited Holy Mount Athos, in particular, the St. Paul Monastery, and talked with its hegumen, Archimandrite Parthenios, who is revered as a contemporary elder. The cardinal said that Catholics and Orthodox Christians are holding conferences to make the celebration of Easter common, trying to make some changes in the liturgical and ascetic practices of their Churches. “Do you think these conferences will bring any result?” he asked the archimandrite. The latter replied: “They can do something. From zero to zero. Ultimately, all of this is equal to nothing." The Cardinal: "How can you say that?" Fr Parthenios: “I say this because both in the East and in the West they know the truth, but they do not profess it. They go to cover each other. They go back and forth on this matter. They are involved in politics, not professing the truth."

Indeed, dialogue and apologies for mistakes are a good thing. But why did these errors appear? Because they were preceded by dogmatic delusions. Faith and practice are closely related, and if one really wants to change something, one must begin with faith, with a return to Truth, and not with "the fight against prejudices". However, the Pope has never said anything about this either before his visit to Greece and Cyprus or afterwards. And he won't. Because he has a different task.

Emigrants

All the press releases of the Pope's visit to Orthodox Greek-speaking countries stressed that he was going there, among other things, to deal with the issue of migrants. As on his last visit to Lesbos, the Pope again took several of them with him. It was not like a visit by a head of state to the "poor and disadvantaged" migrants but rather an audit of the subordinates by a top official.

To emphasise his "migrant interest", the Pope held a separate meeting with former Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, thanks to whom the country got involved in resolving the refugee issue. Understandably, one might respond that the pontiff has philanthropic feelings and does care about the plight of disadvantaged migrants. If not for one "but" – apart from washing the migrants' feet and transporting them to Italy, the Pope has done nothing more for them. He did not condemn the wars in Afghanistan, Lebanon and Syria, which led to the flood of refugees into Europe. Moreover, he did not take any of them back to the Vatican even though he could have done so. Then why is he so worried about the fact that Orthodox Greece would accept the largest possible number of refugees from predominantly Islamic states? Indeed, over the past years, they have already marked themselves on the island by vandalism against Orthodox churches. 

Why is the Pope so worried about the fact that Orthodox Greece would accept the largest possible number of refugees from predominantly Islamic states? 

The answer to this question can be found in the words by Metropolitan Seraphim, already mentioned above. In his opinion, "the government's reception of Mr Francis is a major criminal mistake, as it is an act of intensification of a hybrid war organised by a neighbouring country (Turkey – Ed.), President Erdogan and the Sunni bloc against our country, the European continent and the cultural and religious European identity".

The metropolitan recalled that "Islam has expanded in two ways. The first was the so-called religious war (jihad), and the second was resettlement and population change through multiple births". It is this second way that "has been chosen by the Sunni bloc to occupy and Islamise the European continent", Vladyka believes.

He stresses that "billions are being spent to achieve this goal through journalistic articles, shadow NGOs because it is obvious that the Muslim population moving 'for a better life' can easily be routed to Saudi Arabia, which can accommodate 3,000,000 people, and to the Persian Gulf countries".

In this situation, the Pope plays the role of an undertaker of Christian and European civilisation, the herald of a new human identity and perhaps a new syncretic faith that will unite Islam, Christianity and the cult of earth worship (hence the struggle for ecology). Be that as it may, the Pope's interest in migrants, and especially in Greece accepting as many of them as possible, is most likely motivated at least by a desire to weaken or reduce Orthodox influence in that country. Why? For the same reason – a quicker and more painless unification with the Phanar. And here, there is no doubt, all means are good for both the Vatican and the Phanar, which will be the subject of our next article.

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