Thursday, 11 July 2019

The End of Christian Fascism in Greece?

Greek fascist 'Golden Dawn' flag
Greece election results: Landslide for centre-right New Democracy after Syriza concedes defeat | The Independent

Hidden in the result of the recent Greek general election a few days ago was a welcome result which went almost unnoticed by the mainstream news media; the extreme right-wing, Orthodox Christian-supported and openly fascist party, 'Golden Dawn' was totally wiped out, losing all its MPs.

Golden Dawn had previously been Greece's third largest party but under the Greek proportional electoral system, having failed to reach the 3% threshold, it did not qualify to have even one MP.

According to this report, the Greek Orthodox Church, which unlike Catholicism, does not have a rigid hierarchical structure but has devolved regional autonomy, is at least ambivalent towards Gold Dawn's openly fascist, ultra-nationalist policies and violent tactics. While some bishops have been critical other have been lukewarm or even openly supportive of Golden Dawn.

Bishop Seraphim, of Piraeus, along with four of Golden Dawn’s MPs, filed a joint complaint to halt the play’s [Corpus Christi, which portrayed Jesus and his disciples as gay contemporary Texans] premiere. They lost in court but won in the streets by stopping “Corpus Christi” from ever debuting in Athens, because conditions at the playhouse proved too dangerous for actors.

In a public statement, issued after the riots, Metropolitan Ambrosios of Kalavryta condemned some of Golden Dawn’s violent actions. But in the very same statement praised the party, as protectors of Greece’s nationalist identity, calling it a “sweet hope” for Greece’s suffering citizens. In a separate remark, Bishop Andreas, of Dryinoupolis, Pogoniani and Konitsa, referred to Golden Dawn as the “lads in black shirts, the good fighting lads.”

In March 2017, Bishop Anthimos of Thessalonikini met with Golden Dawn’s leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos to agree a joint program to fight the alleged ‘Islamization’ of Greece.

As this article in Cyprus Mail explains, the Greek Orthodox Church has a long history of enthusiasm for fascist dictators.

It was indicative that in August 1937, one year after the dictatorship came to power, the magazine Ekklisia (the official mouthpiece of the Holy Synod) wrote: “The enthusiasm with which the Greek people of the capital and all the districts celebrated last Wednesday the anniversary under Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas, was indescribable. This transformation, resulting in the reconstruction of national ideals, the return of the nation to the royal road of Greek morality and nobility, the regrouping of the Greek soul in the track of the Orthodox religion, in this pool and the Ark of our nation.”

The church also fully identified with the dictatorship of Georgios Papadopoulos and Demetris Ioannides and accepted the role of ideological and spiritual alibi for the torturers. ‘Greece of Greek Christians’ was the sign hung in all churches. The priests referred to the dictator Papadopoulos as the ‘saviour of the nation’, ‘blessed’, ‘man of God’ and ‘worthy of the country’.

As for his notorious partner Despina, for her the church had a special address, as published in To Vima of March 3, 1968: “We have two Despinas. One in the heavens, the Virgin Mary, and another on earth, Mrs President.”

The toadies of the junta were not just the bishops of Greece but also the patriarch of Orthodoxy. First among them was the Ecumenical Patriarch Athinagoras who expressed his elation, during his visit to Greece in 1968, over the ‘national salvation work’ of the ‘national’ government.

In August 1968 the Patriarch of Jerusalem Benediktos proclaimed the junta troika (Papadopoulos, Patakos, Makarezos) “Great Crusaders of the Order of Orthodox Crusaders of the Holiest Grave”.

In May 1969 the Patriarch of Alexandria Nikolaos congratulated Papadopoulos for the ‘resurrection of the nation’ and awarded him the Grand Cross of the Order of the Apostle Markos.


During the German occupation in 1941, the Archbishop of Greece Damaskinos swore in the collaborationist government of Tsolakoglu, showing complete disregard for the nation. In the same year the Bishop of Ioannina, Spyridon, in a letter to his flock, urges them to trust the German authorities and report resistance fighters.

However, the ultimate in treachery was the nauseating telegram sent by the monks of Mount Athos on April 24, 1941 to Hitler, in which they extolled the ‘glorious’ German nation at the time when German troops were setting fire to Greek villages (Germany had invaded on April 9 of that year) and were brutally murdering innocent Greek citizens.

Nikolaos Michaloliakos, Founder and General Secretary of Golden Dawn.
Currently on trial for forming a criminal organization.
Golden Dawn was founded in 1985 by the openly racist Nikolaos Michaloliakos, ostensibly to campaign for a return to the days of the Greek Colonels' junta under Papadopoulos and with a program to recreate 'Greater Greece' by the annexation of southern Albania, Macedonia, and southern Bulgaria, and through war with Turkey, Turkish Thrace including Istanbul and eastern Anatolia. They also planned to ethnically cleanse northern Greece by expelling the Macedonian-speaking minority.

At the behest of Orthodox priests, Golden Dawn members provided the 'Greek Volunteer Guard' to aid the Serbian genocide in Bosnia following the breakup of former Yugoslavia. They took part in the Srebrenica massacre of Bosniak men and boys in the early 1990s, for which Orthodox Christians, Ratko Mladić and Radovan Karadžić were later convicted by a UN war-crimes tribunal.

It is probable the Greek Orthodox support for Golden Dawn would have been even more enthusiastic had they not made the mistake of organising an attack on Pavlos Fyssas, an anti-fascist rapper, in 2013, during which Fyssas was murdered by a Golden Dawn party member.

It later transpired that the killer had been in touch by telephone with senior party members prior to and and at the time of the murder. One of the telephones used was in the office of Golden Dawn leader, Nikolaos Michaloliakos. Michaloliakos and several senior party officials were subsequently arrested and held in detention pending trial, charged with forming a criminal organization. The trial started in April 2015 and is still ongoing at the time of writing.

One can only hope that this wipeout at the polls marks an end to the Greek Orthodox Christian Church's involvement in extreme right-wing politics in Greece, although it is inconceivable that it will not continue to interfere in Greek politics on the side of wealth and power and against the interests of ordinary working class Greeks.

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