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A SYRIZA deputy dressed as a priest scandalized the church

06 January 2014 / 18:01:23  GRReporter
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"It is sad that, in such a critical period for the country, a member of parliament is behaving so unreasonably", Metropolitan Ieronymos noted in his Sunday statement in connection with the act of the SYRIZA deputy.

The development, which provoked an avalanche of reactions, took place at New Year, during the traditional carnival in Argos Orestiko in the region of Kastoria when Vangelis Diamantopoulos was dressed as a priest named "Soura", who "buried" the crisis and blessed the "believers" in the memorandum for their achievements.

In his Sunday appeal, Metropolitan of Thessaloniki Antimos paid particular attention to the development, demanding the resignation of the deputy, "Dressed as a priest and holding a vase in his hands, he blessed the people. He cannot participate in the Holy Sacrament. If I were the leader of his party, I would have expelled him the same day. Can a deputy offend the Orthodox faith? He should resign or the leadership of his party should force him to apologize in public. If he does not repent he will not be saved."

After the Metropolitan of Thessaloniki, other metropolitans spoke out, condemning the deputy’s behaviour.

Metropolitan of Dimitriada Ignatius stated, "The unacceptable, obscene and offensive behaviour of SYRIZA deputy Vangelis Diamantopoulos during the carnival in Argos Orestiko, who chose to express his "political" positions by mocking the clergy and the greatest sacrament of the Orthodox Church, namely the Holy Sacrament, during some of the most holy days of the church, has provoked sadness and disgust in every civilized man. Is this the new morality of the persons and parties, which have the ambition to rule the country? Is the deputy aware of what the consequences of such an act would be in an Islamic country? Does the fact that we live in a free and Christian Greece, where everyone can believe in what he or she wants to, precisely because this is a Christian country, make him think that such disgusting acts are allowed? We are awaiting the official reaction of the party and its leader with great interest."

Metropolitan of Kastoria Seraphim, in turn, said, "In relation to what I read and saw in different websites regarding the carnival in Argos Orestiko I have to say the following:

1. They remind me of the pictures in Russia in 1917 when the Bolsheviks mocked everything sacred to the church.

2. I am ashamed.

3. I am sorry for him and for all those who were involved with him in this masquerade and along with my neighbour, Metropolitan of Sisani and Siatista Pavlos, I am deeply sorry for their "culture".

4. Haven’t they heard me stress that what is sacred for one is to be respected by the others, thereby taking into account the fact that the majority of the people are Orthodox Christians?

5. I wish God to enlighten us and forgive us."

The deputy’s reply

The SYRIZA deputy replied to these accusations as follows:

"The traditional carnival in which I have participated over the past 20 years took place in Argos Orestiko, Kastoria area, on New Year's Eve.

The theme of the carnival was satirical again. We presented the crisis which, according to the government, is coming to its end, and its funeral. I played the role of the priest.

This has provoked negative anonymous comments on the part of several priests and of Metropolitan of Sisani and Siatista Pavlos.

The truth is that I am not very surprised because the church traditionally resents every ancient custom that has managed to live through the ages.

If these reactions were expressed against an ordinary citizen, then we would have been talking about the unacceptable interference on the part of the existing religion in the whole spectrum of public life, in the daily life of citizens. The time when this was possible is called the Middle Ages with all the negative charge carried by the mere mentioning of that era.

The reactions, however, were not directed towards one of the many ordinary citizens who disguise themselves as priests during carnivals but towards me, just because of the fact that I am a deputy.

This raises a very important issue related to the distorted logic of the church that it has the right to intervene in cases which, according to its assessment, have political dimensions, thus trying to form a political reality.

All this really is a different conception of culture, a conception of culture that is different from "my" culture, which is characterized by the adoption of differences, respect for the religious, sexual, political choice of every citizen, as long as this choice does not turn against the people, by freedom of expression, the highest form of which remain satire and self-sarcasm.

However, the main point in the open letter by the Metropolitan of Siatista that went too far was his direct question to the leader of SYRIZA regarding the fact the he has to rule the country along with deputies like me.

For decades, since the creation of the Greek state, some of the priests have confused the church cross with the cross put by voters during elections, thus confusing their flock with the electorate.

Every time the people are called to elect the politicians who will rule them, not according to the instructions of a priest but on the basis of the proposals of these politicians regarding the society they want to create."

The reply of Metropolitan of Sisani Pavlos

"I read the message by deputy Diamantopoulos concerning the developments during the carnival in Kastoria, in which he mentions my personality, and I would like to make some remarks.

The deputy has failed in terms of almost every point and argument in the message. He uses the familiar clichés about the Middle Ages, the reactions of the church in relation to ancient customs, and he finally concludes that he was attacked because of his status as a deputy. Furthermore, he does not understand the nature of the reaction, the real reason for my reaction and for that of the other priests. He is wrong in all this.

30 years ago, two children mocked the Holy Sacrament during the carnival in a small town area of Evia, doing exactly what you as deputy did. My reaction was immediate and firm. Those children realized their mistake and apologized. Those children were not deputies but they were criticized like you and even more. So, do not try to make yourself a hero. You are not attacked as a deputy but for your particular action. So, do not pretend that you do not understand.

If you were just dressed as a priest who buried the crisis, no one would have dealt with you. But you mocked one of the most holy things for a Christian, the Holy Sacrament.

You talk about ancient customs but you know that satire has always been related to a specific person and never to the belief of people.

You talk about the Middle Ages but you are wrong again. Many years ago, a television show involved the current Metropolitan of Albania, Anastasios, and his opponent whose name I do not remember. He started talking about the Middle Ages and the Metropolitan began to laugh. His opponent became offended and asked him why he was laughing and the Metropolitan said he did not intend to justify something that did not relate to the Orthodox Church. So, deputy, read more so that you can be aware that the Middle Ages do not relate to the Orthodox Church. Give up the quotes and brief language that is often used by the left wing in relation to the church and see if your attitude towards the church is not medieval, since you do not recognize its right to speak.

As to your "culture", it would be better if you paid special attention to the words of the Metropolitan of Kastoria who says that "what is sacred for one should be respected by all." Your act counteracts your words about the adoption and respect for the belief of the other. It seems that your "respect" excludes the Orthodox Christians in our country and in your city, having insulted them in this way.

In addition, do not look for political motives where none are present. The umbrella under which you have hastened to hide is full of holes.

Finally, I will say a few words about your last argument claiming that I went too far. Mr. Alexis Tsipras honoured me by using a large part of my text during an important meeting of your youth organisation. This seems to show respect for my words. So, I have the right, not only as a priest but also as a citizen of this country, unless you think that we are second-class citizens, to ask him whether your "culture" is the culture of the entire party."

There was another reply by the deputy of SYRIZA

After this message of Metropolitan Pavlos, Vangelis Diamantopoulos replied as follows:

"In the past, I personally applauded the anti-fascist speech of the Metropolitan but that does not mean that his opinion cannot be criticized. It is clear that the mentioning of the Middle Ages on my part refers to the mentality that was typical during this historical period which, as we all know, is related to the Catholic rather than to the Orthodox Church. As for the Holy Sacrament recreated during the carnival, I will only state that various carnivals and other similar events across the country recreate the equally holy sacraments of wedding and confession. Certainly, none of these cases aimed to affect the religious feelings and the Christian faith of the people on the part of the participants in the carnival and neither the citizens involved in the disputable development nor I intended to do so. In connection with the Metropolitan’s comments related to my "culture" and its consistency with the party, which will probably govern the country, I can only reiterate my strong dissatisfaction with this intervention in the political life. It is clear that the priests and the believers in Greece are equal citizens and their possible different attitude on certain issues is normal but when someone is persistently asking the leadership of my party whether it accepts my "culture" then he has definitely gone too far. The respect for the differences is at the heart of the Christian faith and of the values ​​of the left wing. I would like to close this issue with this conviction and appeal since, firstly, it has unfortunately taken on different dimensions which, secondly, are larger than those that it deserves. Personally, I have no intention of going back to the issue of the carnival at a time when the majority of our nation is facing the problem of how to survive and Samaras’ government is still dealing with issues such as wages, pensions, workers' rights and social welfare".


Tags: DeputyМasqueradeCarnivalScandalSYRIZA
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