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Metropolitan Gabriel of Nea Ionia Speaks about Contemporary Issues

BOSTON – Metropolitan Gabriel of Nea Ionia, Philadelphia, Heraklion, and Chalcedon, one of the youngest and most active hierarchs of the Church of Greece, in his interview with The National Herald talked about the escalation of violence, same-sex marriage, monasticism, Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, and the Greek-American Community.

The National Herald: Your Eminence, what are some of the issues concerning your flock?

Metropolitan Gabriel: The issue of violence is a significant concern for Greek society, especially for  children and within schools. What we encounter through partisan violence and see in groups is a trigger for people to release their emotions. As a Church, we must do everything we can because we are currently facing an escalation of violence. The Church must take a stand.

TNH: What do you think causes violence?

His Eminence Metropolitan Gabriel of Nea Ionia, Philadelphia, Heraklion, and Chalcedon arrives to a church to officiate at a Vesper Service. Photo: provided by Metropolis Nea Ionia, Philadelphia, Heraklion, and Chalcedon

Metropolitan Gabriel: One issue is the cost of living a citizen faces in Athens. When a bottle of oil costs 15 euros per liter, how people perceive their needs changes. Most importantly, people see a dead end ahead; they do not see light at the end of the tunnel. Our lives are difficult; we understand that there are very different situations than there were 20 or 30 years ago. However, the Church’s task and mission is to tell people to hold onto their faith [to maintain their] patience, optimism, and hope in Christ.”

TNH: How would you comment on the policy of legalizing same-sex marriage?

Metropolitan Gabriel: I clearly expressed my position on the matter some time ago, and there is a decision from the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece that unanimously condemned the same-sex marriage legislation. You understand that all our bishops are opposed to this. We are opposed not only because it denies the tradition that we see so clearly in both the Old and New Testaments. I refer to the creation of man as male and female in the book of Genesis, on the one hand, and on the other hand, we see in the New Testament that Christ blesses marriage and gives a different dimension to the union of man and woman [as it was understood in His society], and which now exists in Christ. The new legislative initiative, in my humble opinion, aims to undermine the foundations of the family. It creates divisions in what traditionally is the Greek family, and I believe it will also provide the opportunity to sever people’s relationships on a level that has to do not only with the family but much more with what the Greek family has expressed over the centuries. That is, the family is the cell through which all people have originated, each with their own mission. If the Greek family does not remain as we know it, I am very afraid of the result it will have on broader social cohesion.

His Eminence Metropolitan Gabriel of Nea Ionia, Philadelphia, Heraklion, and Chalcedon distributes personally food items to needy people in Athens. Photo: provided by Metropolis Nea Ionia, Philadelphia, Heraklion, and Chalcedon

TNH: You lived close to the late Archbishop Christodoulos, and he promoted you. How would you describe him?

Metropolitan Gabriel: He was an Archbishop who left an indelible mark. A visionary, with much love for the Church, with much love for the people of the Church, especially the youth, a great eagerness to work, and much love for ministry. He was a person whom, I believe, at the appointed time, God deemed worthy to have this great ministry. He benefited the Church, the flock of the Church of Greece, and for this reason, he left an indelible mark.

TNH: Do you have an opinion on the phenomenon of  ‘Gerontism’, this constant carrying of icons, relics, even a chestnut?

Metropolitan Gabriel: The Church is the living Body of Christ, which naturally has its pathologies. One of these pathologies is Gerontism, which unfortunately leads to an Eastern type of religiosity, like the gurus, something I think you have in America and is very strong there, and people seek a spirituality without this spirituality having a frame of reference. For us, spirituality is Christ. And this phenomenon of Gerontism has to do with a shallow spirituality whose aim is not for people to know Christ but to adopt a cultic mentality, something foreign to Tradition and the life of the Church.

TNH: What is your opinion on the Greek-American Community?

Metropolitan Gabriel: We love the Greek-American Community, we are close to them, close to their concerns. We learn from you because you live in a completely different environment, and we are also your roots. You understand that coexistence can only benefit Greece and can only bring positive elements. May God give you strength to support this Greek-American Community.

His Eminence Metropolitan Gabriel of Nea Ionia, Philadelphia, Heraklion, and Chalcedon speaks at a youth luncheon. Photo: provided by Metropolis Nea Ionia, Philadelphia, Heraklion, and Chalcedon

TNH: What are your relations today with Archbishop Elpidophoros of America? I know you are friends.

Metropolitan Gabriel: We have been friends for many years, we have collaborated on many things in the past. I am honored by his friendship for many years. I consider him a very dynamic person, very creative. He has love for the Church, for his Province. He is a hierarch of the Ecumenical Throne, and I believe he will give his soul until his last breath to defend the rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate but also of the Greek-American community, of which he is currently the shepherd and has the responsibility for the jurisdiction entrusted to him by the Church.

TNH: If you had one piece of advice to give him, what would it be?

Metropolitan Gabriel: I think I am too small to give advice. I pray especially during the Divine Liturgy that God gives him strength and health, to always enlighten him to fulfill his mission correctly.


ATHENS – The first day of the 4th International Conference on Religious Freedom presented by the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate concluded the evening of May 27 with a Welcome Dinner at the Acropolis Museum hosted by Archon Athanasios and Marina Martinos.

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