Thursday, June 26, 2014

Orthodox Criteria for Voting in Political Elections

Many Orthodox Christians often wonder, when it comes to voting for political leadership of any kind, how they are to vote. Though it is difficult to give a general answer to this question, below is an example of what sort of criteria we should look for to help us choose best. It is an encyclical by Metropolitan Nicholas of Mesogaia and Lavreotiki, issued in May 2014, on the local government elections of Greece and the elections of the European Parliament. Though this bold encyclical is given in a unique context of elections in Greece, without being associated with a particular candidate or political party, since this would not be prudent for any ecclesiastical figure, and in the midst of government corruption, essentially it gives criteria to help Orthodox anywhere to arrive at the best choice possible, and avoid a similar crisis as endured in Greece.

To the pious Christians of our Sacred Metropolis,

Beloved brethren,


Already three weeks have passed since Pascha, since that time when we celebrated that true celebration of authentic peace. We now find ourselves again on the verge of the challenge of an important election. The paschal celebration was full of light and joy.

But the reality of life again is gloomy. Daily life is hard to endure. The future is unsure. Hope has been destroyed and our choices are limited.

It is a crisis of unprecedented proportions with huge problems. We have many politicians but few leaders. The people are overwhelmed with confusion and distress. There is poverty of disgraceful dimensions. There is unemployment. There is grief and feelings of no way out of the dilemma.

Some people claim that they see the light. In fact they proclaim salvific solutions. The candidates make all kinds of promises. The names of the many political parties project an image of optimism. But we, the people, are still suffering. That which we see hurts us terribly. That which we see before us terrifies us. This is the visible image of the crisis. This is what we see.

In truth, we understand that the crisis is one of a spiritual nature. And this is where the problem is found. This is why our hope is found in our faith. This means that whatever our criteria might be and whatever our political choices might be, our vote must be based on spiritual values.

In truth, how can we vote for a man who does not have virtue and strength? How can we entrust ourselves to leaders who are not serious about solutions and are not virtuous? How can we vote for people who do not have the fear of God in them and do not respect our history? How can we vote for people who are not sensitive to faith, without a firm sense of morality? If we vote for such people then our vote is sinful.

The truth is that the general responsibility of political representatives is great. They have brought us to ruin. They made us a society tolerant of drugs, impious to the sacred and anarchist in reactions.

They decriminalized adultery, legalized abortion, instituted civil marriage and unholy relationships, and abrogated Sundays from being non-work days. And now? Now they want to burn the dead, to marry people of the same sex, to take our organs assuming our consent, to make it easier for people to leave this world with a political funeral, unread, without a prayer, without a blessing for the other life; with a unique stamp of an electronic chip and a huge lie around them.

But our responsibility, beloved brethren, is not small. The quality and ethos of a people does not appear in how they attack, but in knowing how to defend themselves. By their reflex reactions.

The real crisis seems that we as a people do not have the prudence and courage to face unprecedented challenges in economic and social terms. This is because we have proved to be spiritually naked. Consequently also our lives have become desacralized.

A dry nihilism, a silly irreverence, a pathological myopic self-centeredness, a nerveless and fruitless education tear down our faith, weakening ideals that lead to foolish choices and eliminate all vitality and a trace of boldness in our people.

How, my beloved, can a people who shift between wildness and apathy, between audacity and stupidity, resist? They have sucked our blood and taken our money and rights. And above all our dignity.

They have created such a society. We have created such a society. And all this was based on who we elected and us who voted for them.

We complain and forgive, and often are indifferent. That is why we are to blame. "Despair took hold of me, because of the sinners who forsake thy law" (Ps. 118:53 LXX), says the Psalmist.

With such despair and deep pain, I direct these words to those who can hear my weak voice, on this Sunday of the Paralytic.

But I also have within me a hope. The hope that we will wake up. The time has come for a strong slap against the undignified system that has drained our entire spirits. Evil must be stopped now and clearly. But evil is not who gets elected and what they will do.

The evil for which we will give an account before God and history is what we will do, whether we will responsibly vote or be indifferent.

Let us be very careful in these elections. The message we give should be spiritual. We are told that the Church should remain silent. It is not her job to be like the world. But it does have a mission to awaken. That's why now is the time for her to speak.

If we remain silent, then "the stones will cry out". We cannot take it anymore. God has turned His face from us. We feel completely helpless in an abysmal downward spiral. We want the brake of the presence of God in our life. And this has to do with our vote.

Let us trust only in people who believe in God, who honor our history and traditions, who respect themselves, who love Greece above their own interests, honorable people who respect our sacred legacy that we have inherited, and do not flaunt the deplorable identity that has been manufactured for us.

These elections are critical. Our hope - indeed great - is that it will give a clear and resounding spiritual message in our society, that it will express our people spiritually. If this happens, then it means we are beginning to change.

A change that is necessary and desirable and feasible. The difference from the blessed state we all want is huge. The distance very small. As long as it is a spiritual decision.

May God bless you and support the people and our nation. May we vote and He elect. And may he enlighten our leaders "that we may in the calm of this silent life live in reverence and modesty".

With paschal wishes and love,

† NICHOLAS of Mesogaia and Lavreotiki

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.