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    The Archbishop to be inspired by John Locke and not by Joe Lowe

    By George Koumoulli

     

     

    The famous English philosopher John Locke lived in the 17th century (1632-1704). He laid a large part of the foundations for the Enlightenment and contributed significantly to the development of liberalism and democracy.

    One of Locke’s books that a democrat would recommend to the two candidates for the archdiocesan post to read carefully is “The Letter on Freedom of Religion” (Epistola de Tolerantia, translated by G. Plangesis) written in 1685 in the Netherlands where he found refuge because he was persecuted by the totalitarian and intolerant regime of the Stuarts of England – from this book I glean below his reflections. Perhaps then the metropolitans Athanasius and George have second thoughts, the first about the passion he has against “heretics” and the second about the involvement of the Church in politics.

     

     

     

    Athanasios refused to attend the pope’s welcoming events in Cyprus (in 2010 and 2021) because, according to him, he “scandalizes the faithful”! In an interview with the blog “Free Monks”, he explains the reasons why he refused to meet the Pope:

    “The Papacy is a heresy and a source of many other sects that today afflict the world. A modern saint, St. Justin Popovich said that in the history of mankind there have been three tragic falls: the firstborn Adam, the disciple of Christ of Judah, and the Pope, who as the first bishop of the Church as he was fell from the apostolic faith, was cut off from the canonical Church and dragged with him multitudes of people to this day.”

    Of course, this approach only causes the elementary educated citizens to be disadvantaged.

    To climb a few steps up, Locke insists that the principle of freedom of thought is fundamental. The free man acts according to his judgment, that is, with the approval of his spirit. On the other hand, “the Church is a free society of people who gather voluntarily to publicly worship God in the way they believe He is acceptable to the deity for the salvation of their souls” (p. 137).

     

     

     

    In conclusion, both the state and the Church rely on the free will of the individuals who make them up. Bearing in mind that the Christian Church is not one but many (Orthodox, Protestant, Catholic, etc.), Locke says “peace, equality, and friendship must always be mutually observed by the various Churches, as well as by individuals, without any claim to sovereignty over one over the other” (p. 146).

    And Locke comes to the conclusion that should have been entrenched not only in Athanasius’ mind but in the minds of all of us: “Every Church is orthodox for itself and erroneous and heretical for the others. For of course what a Church believes is true, and anything to the contrary condemns it as wrong” (p.147).

    The irony is that many “pious” Catholics, who are globally more numerous than the Orthodox, would unreservedly call the metropolitan of Limassol a “heretic”!

     

     

     

    The involvement of the Church in politics is a given and desirable according to the deeds and words of the current Metropolitan of Pafos, George, and possibly, today, Archbishop.

    George reiterates that the Church will never lose the responsibility arising from its “ethnarchical role.” And because traditionally the Church is identified (both in Cyprus and in Greece) with the nationalist far-right, the future of Cyprus looks bleak with George as Archbishop.

    It cannot understand that the responsibility for the solution of the Cyprus problem is the responsibility of the elected government, as is, of course, education.

    Its ethnarchical role came to an end when Cyprus became an independent state.

    For George to speak of such a role today is to deny that he does not recognize the separation of Church and State.

    Locke says: “From whatever source their authority (of bishops and other clergies) ought to be confined within the confines of the Church, and cannot extend to political things, because the Church itself is completely separate and distinct from the state and politics.

    The boundaries of the two are fixed and immutable. He who confuses these two societies mixes heaven and earth, things so dissimilar and opposite, that in their origin, purpose, and essence are absolutely different” (p.153).

     

     

     

    Nor is there any justification for the position that the Church should be financially active in helping the poor, especially when there is no transparency at all.

    Who, how much, and why they get money from the Church no one knows.

    After all, the responsibility for relieving the low-paid or infirm is now the responsibility of the government in question.

    When hierarchs become traders in goods or services worth millions, corruption is inevitable, as evidenced by the former Archbishop’s collaboration with Joe Lowe, the Malaysian “businessman”.

     

    The heartbreaking conclusion is that the rays of the Enlightenment have not penetrated the black clouds that cover Cyprus and the Erebus that covers us does not say to leave. And as academician Ahrweiler explains, Greece and Cyprus did not experience the Enlightenment because of the Church!

     

     

     

    *Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of CypriumNews.

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