Dear sister and brothers,
The anniversary of the 25th March always had a special resonance in the conscience of the Greek people and the Church.
The double Annunciation that announces the redemption of all people through the incarnation of God, but also the liberation of the enslaved Greek nation through the sacred uprising of our heroic ancestors, became the “Magna Carta” of modern Hellenism. All actions or omissions, all successes or failures of modern Greeks, whether as a nation or society or as individual citizens, must be seen in relation to this unique measure.
Freedom on the one hand, then, and piety on the other, are the two concrete criteria by which we authentically weigh up either our progress or regression.
For the modern Greek, the free person must also be pious. Without this, freedom becomes disorder and lawlessness which inevitably leads to enslavement towards blind passions, in which case the supposed freedom degenerates into the worst kind of bestiality and slavery.
By the same token, the pious person cannot be someone who is not free. Because piety demands the highest degree of freedom, so that the human person is at every moment in a position “to obey God rather than any human authority” (see Acts 5:29).
However just as freedom is not compatible with disorder and anarchy, in the same way piety is not compatible with legalism and fundamentalism. These fundamental concepts were crystal clear and deeply rooted in the consciences of the fighters of 1821. That is why they could achieve great things, not through their negligible numerical strength or with their very rudimentary level of organisation, but through the truth they held. The national poet of Greece, Dionysios Solomos, was following in the exact same footsteps of those exemplary figures, when he taught us the highest lesson: that we should consider “national only what is true”.
This message has a particularly bitter timeliness in recent years when Greek people both inside and outside Greece are being tested concerning their most sacred characteristics, namely their Orthodox faith and their national phronema.
May this message be note by any leaders of our people – whether political or ecclesiastical. For, if on the one hand our national cohesion is thrown to the wind by selfish factional infighting or unproductive internationalism, and on the hand by a weakened Orthodox Church through internal persecutions and plundering, then the nation will not survive, except as a ghost in a haunted house.
The European Union and any other forms of international protection will not be able to save us from that subjugation. Because any financial assistance and any safeguarding of territorial integrity will not only prove to be ineffective supports; rather, these will be the rope with which they will hang us, if ethical values are missing from the modern Greeks.
It was for these values that the Greeks always sacrificed their lives, and it is only natural that with these values they will once again be able to live.
May we recall these simple truths once again, before it is irreparably too late. Amen.
With paternal wishes and love,
Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia