Fake "miracles"?

Archbishop Hieronimos of Athens has given five days to a priest accused of fraud from the church of Agios Isidoros and a congregation of several people to leave the chapel on Lycabettus Hill in central Athens and move to a monastery.

The head of the Greek Church is furious with the priest Dimitris Loupasakis, who rose to fame among the Greek Orthodox after claiming to own a “cross” of wood made from a part of the tree of the “Holy Cross that performs” miracles.

According to the priest’s own account, at the age of 14 he suffered from leukemia. A woman then approached him and made the sign of the cross on his body with a “miraculous cross”, which allegedly resulted in his healing, the in.gr news site reported in early September. The priest claims that he now uses the same cross to bless the faithful, who are lining up in long lines for healing in the hope of a miracle.

The priest, in particular, claims that the blind saw the light again, and the paralyzed was able to walk again. His statements attracted thousands of people to the small chapel, who patiently and, of course, desperately stood in long queues for many hours to touch the “wonderful” piece of wood and receive healing. Regardless of the “miracle”, believers also make donations, as is customary in churches.

Not only the archbishop, but also other high-ranking priests and bishops accused Lupasakis of “fictitious miracles.” At first, the Bishop of Argolis spoke of “pseudo-miracles” and “first-rate fraud.” “I am clean, I have not soiled my cassock,” the controversial priest said in his first statements after the religious service on Monday morning, as the clock for the ultimatum was already ticking. “We are here and act simply, modestly and humbly,” said the priest, who has served here for the past 22 years, and thanked his followers for “thousands of messages of support.”

In early autumn, Archbishop Jerome ordered an internal church inquiry into “miracles” at Agios Isidoros. The investigation was conducted by the Bishop of Larisa, and the conclusions turned out to be “catastrophic” for the priest. The investigation questioned the “miracles” and concluded that the “miraculous” events at Saint Isidoros were a matter of “dishonesty and fraud.”

In an interview with the Sunday edition of the kathimerini newspaper, Hieronimos for the first time spoke out publicly on the subject.. Noting that there is also a community of “16 children between the ages of 25 and 30” near the priest, he said that “this is a community without legal registration. I called them, talked to the children and said, ‘Do you want to become monks? This is not the case, there is no monastery here.”

“Shouldn’t I help them?” – said the archbishop, who, however, admitted that the text of the current Metropolitan of Larissa, who conducted the relevant study, is very harsh, although it is also not far from reality.

The archbishop emphasized that he gave Loupasakis and (whoever) monks/followers a period of five days to settle in an institution that is a legitimate church entity, namely in the Vari region in southeast Athens. “If they say they agree, we will follow this. If they say “we are staying here”, then what the rules of the Church and the laws of the state say will be done,” he stressed. Archbishop Jerome warned that Lupasakis would not be allowed to use the cross, which he says is made of honest wood and works “miracles”. Instead, the symbol will be placed in a display case to “prevent it from being instrumentalized” and anyone who wants to can bow to it, the archbishop added.

In recent months, almost all the services of this church have been broadcast on the YouTube channel. The channel has 102 thousand subscribers.

The income of the chapel of St. Isidore is not subject to scrutiny by public services, due to the special status of churches in Greece. However, they are subject to control by the Greek Orthodox Church.

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