Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Political Parties and the Church

By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos
of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

I think that the work and purpose of the Church is different from the work and purpose of the State and Parties. Parties are necessary in a democratic society, otherwise an oligarchy and dictatorship will prevail. Political and ideological divergence among Parties serves society, because in this way citizens can choose which Party expresses and represents their views before Parliament. The doctrine "words dispute with other words" is the characteristic feature of democracy, human society and all ideological systems. This is why there are various slogans at times, such as change, deliverance, cleansing, modernization, reform, etc., which circulate the objectives for the Parties purposes.

But the Church acts in a different way. There are no ideological distinctions, nor does it aim to gather votes from the people, it must not deliver political or partisan words, and it should not meddle in political confrontations, using theological language for politicking, and identifying itself with party factions. Besides, members of the Church can be found in all partisan formations and, of course, the Church embraces all people, among whom there could be active or potential saints. Her language is salvific and theological, focusing on the city above, and expresses the apostolic passage: "Our citizenship exists in heaven." Naturally, members of the Church try to transfer this eschatological citizenship into the historical scene, but in another way, which is liturgical and spiritual, sanctifying the person and history.

When the pastors of the Church work in this way, then they receive the respect of society and the politicians who belong to all Parties.

It is significant that those Clerics who, during the Greek Civil War, worked in unison and with philanthropy, without identifying themselves with any ideology, won the love and respect of society.

Source: Excerpt from the book Ἐνιαύσιον 2007. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.