September 30, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Athens priest suspended for placing girls as ‘altar servers’

A Greek Orthodox priest in Athens was suspended from serving and deprived of the right to perform the sacraments due to the fact that two girls serve on the altar of his church. The move sparked outrage in “conservative” circles.

This was the first time that a priest of the Archdiocese of Athens placed two girls in “service” in a church where, according to centuries-old tradition, only boys serve on the altar.

The scandalous event took place in the church of Agios Nikolaos Ragavas in Plaka, and the priest who was sent on leave is Protopresbyter Alexandros Kariotoglu, the newspaper reports.

The priest’s decision sparked outrage among conservative circles, who complained about the priest.

Protopresbyter Alexandros was summoned to the church authorities, who informed him that he could not serve during the Divine Liturgy and had no right to perform the sacraments (weddings, baptisms, confessions, etc.) … until the Holy Synod in composed of 12 members will not discuss this issue and will not make a decision.

The Holy Synod is expected to meet next week, and no one seems to know if Archbishop Jerome will bring this issue up for discussion and what his proposal will be.

However, members of the Holy Synod reportedly noted that “the purpose of the decision is to instruct the clergy, since there were no consultations with the staff of the archdiocese.”

They added that “the priest did not receive any letter, but “he had a conversation with the archbishop and the archdeacon. None of us makes decisions alone.” On the other hand, theologians emphasize that such arguments are prefaces…

Since 1982, “papadakia”, altar servers, have been in disgrace in the Patriarchate of Antioch-Athens. Girls – “servants” of “papadakia” are an “institution” that appeared in Europe from the beginning of the 80s. It all started with the arrival of Agios Dimitrios in Cologne, the initiative of the priest was accompanied by a corresponding decision of the then Patriarch Ignatius of Antioch.

Since then, dozens of female ministers in Europe, as well as in Damascus, the seat of the Patriarchate of Antioch, which Archbishop Jeronymos himself recently visited, have become commonplace.

“The indignation and denial of the conservatives are hypocritical. Many women have long been serving at the holy altar: in monasteries, institutions, camps and even parishes,” – said Archpriest Vasilios Thermos.

He added that at the same time “Most bishops don’t care about the point. The reason why they don’t want to see girls on the altar is because of the war these sticks have waged in the past… Our Church has been taken hostage by the fundamentalists. Any punishment of Father Alexander will cause a deep scandal among people of high quality and serious thinking, serious thinkers. We already taste the reaction. Unfortunately, many of our bishops do not know about the existence of this part of the people. Therefore, when it is necessary to make a decision, they prefer silence and sacrifice serious seekers. Extremists raise a noise that is completely disproportionate with their numbers. If moderates bombarded the Synod with demands for change, our bishops would be surprised. We love our Synod and do not want its prestige to be shaken.”

Recall that last month, the Archbishop of America, Elpidophoros, allowed the girls to be taken to the church altar with the blessing of Patriarch Bartholomew (see photo at the beginning of the publication).

two girls

The two 14-year-old girls who wore surplice and held a candle during the Divine Liturgy are among those children who attend church every Sunday. They are triplets, and they have a brother, and their parents are close to the Church, and no one expected such a reaction (!?)…

Many conservative Greeks believe that the admission of girls to the altar is contrary to the ancient Christian canons, which say that only innocent boys can be servants at the altar. And to the reproaches from the “progressives” they answer that both women and open gays serve as priests in your country.

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