With Greece’s record of unending corruption among the highest in the European Union and the world, The Archbishop of Albania Anastasios said Greeks should give up their evil ways when it comes to money and power.
In an interview with Sunday’s Kathimerini, he said they should not yield to the temptations of decadence he said has infiltrated almost every aspect of daily life in Greece, where there’s rampant tax cheating, dodgy deals, under-the-table money, black marketeering, bank and business scandals and internecine political warfare.
Referring to more than 7 ½ years of an economic and austerity crisis that has worsened the lives of most people apart from tax cheats, politicians, the rich and people hiding their income in secret foreign accounts he said that, “The financial crisis did not come out of the sky like a parachute.”
“It is a consequence of behavior, a way of life of our people,” he said, adding that everyone is responsible for the situation in Greece as all “dipped their finger in the honey jar” in one way or another, bringing to mind the words of former PASOK Socialist veteran lawmaker Theodoros Pangalos who said of the insatiable appetite for money and stealing that, “We all ate it together,” blaming everyone.
Apart from politicians and financial officials, Anastasios said that the rest of society must look at their own behavior as well.
“Serious self-criticism is lacking,” he said, adding that Greeks can’t blame foreigners for everything that is wrong,” a common lament that everyone from the Turks to Venetians to secret conspiracies are aligned against Greece. “All the people must engage in serious self-criticism and the role of the Church is to help in this,” he said.
“(Corruption) means lies, greed, egocentrism,” he said, adding that politicians, the media and financial officials are not the only ones who practice it.
“Don’t we find these in most homes?” he asked, before going on to say that the “sport” of tax evasion and pension fraud is also corruption.
“What I want to say is that we must learn to see reality as it is,” he said, urging people to adhere to the central Christian tenet of repentance.
He also said calls for the Greek Church to get in line with the times are misguided and unnecessary as it shouldn’t act like a non-governmental organization (NGO) but as a religious institution.
“Water does not need to be modernized. The water that Homer and others drank is what we drink today. We won’t become more modern by drinking Coca-Cola,” he said, making no mention of corruption during Ancient Greece.
He said that in the 21st Century, societies which have been treated unfairly by richer countries that are supposedly Christian will resort to using religion as a weapon but cautioned that, “These [religious slogans] cannot be confronted with tanks and airplanes,” which some governments use against their own people.