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Church

Metropolitan Serafim of Piraeus Speaks to TNH

BOSTON – His Eminence Metropolitan Serafim of Piraeus spoke for the first time to The National Herald with the usual dynamic and ecclesiocentric language for which he is known in Greece and around the world. The interview follows.

The National Herald: Your Eminence what made you to abandon Law, which you had studied initially, and turn to theology and the priesthood?

Metropolitan Serafim: Actually, I owe my priesthood to my love and engagement to Astronomy. Since the age of 16 I was a frequent visitor of Planetarium of Athens and I introduced myself to the greatness of the starlit universe with its trillion galaxies, and I decided to devote my life to the Entity who creates all this super mathematical accuracy and lawfulness [that we see in nature]. The existence of the Universe compels reflection on [such] ideas [like the Creator], and to this Idea I devoted my life, having as a heroic example, Telos Agras, the hero of the Macedonian struggle [of the 19th and early 20th century]. My law studies and my work as a lawyer were demands of my late father, in order reinforce my conscious devotion to the Church. After all, Law studies are the ‘mathematics of words’.

The Home for the Aged of the Metropolis of Piraeus. (Photos provided by Metropolis of Peiraeus.)

TNH: How do you manage to sustain the schools in your Metropolis – Kindergarten, Elementary, Middle School, and High School?

Metr. Serafim: The non-profit Institute of ‘St. Georgios-St. Polykarpos’ is the owner of the Educational Institute of our Metropolis and consequently, all donations and contributions to the Institute support its educational efforts to cultivate Greek Orthodox ideals and exceptional learning.

TNH: Can you comment on the recently revealed sexual abuse of the 12-year-old girl? What kind of punishment should the predators get?

Metr. Serafim: In our tragic era, the putrescence and earthen being of the human personality are more than frequently visible. ‘Pan-hedonism’ is the result of a life without God, as Dostoevsky says, “without God everything is permitted”. The ‘religions’ of our time are ‘Rights-ism’, ‘Superhumanity’, and ‘Metahumanity’, that is, the giantism of the ‘man-god’, which has no metaphysical reference.

There are shortcomings in the family and in state’s social services which are supposed to prevent such tragedies. As far as the punishment is concerned, the only proper one for such incurable and unreformable cases is the surgical severing of the nerves that control erections.

The response that the legal systems of state [and the organs] of what is called ‘justice’ cannot be characterized as punishment, but rather as merely penance, because it doesn’t take into account the victims’ tragedy and suffering and the recidivism of criminals.

TNH: It is admitted by everybody that you are doing great educational, pastoral, and philanthropic work in your Metropolis, but sometimes some public statements of yours about ecclesiastical and social issues somehow cast a shadow on your image. Do you get that impression?

Metr. Serafim: As members of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ, the Orthodox Church, we don’t speak as individuals but we struggle to be transformed into the clear voice of the eternal Word of God, which has been delivered to us through the Apostles, the Holly Fathers and the nine Ecumenical Councils. Consequently, in the Orthodox Church we don’t define ourselves, in order not to be exiled from the Church. I believe in the metaphysical interpretation of actions and that that the Creator will judge our lives justly.

And I hear His voice through the words of Apostle Paul [who warns] “all now desiring to live piously in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).

Elementary school that meets high educational standards of the Metropolis of Piraeus. (Photos provided by Metropolis of Peiraeus.)

TNH: What do the people, and especially the young, say to you about the Orthodox Faith?

Metr. Serafim: Church is the way of life where young people will gain in the most clear and honest and straightforward manner insight into their existential needs and answers about how to form their identity. No matter how paradoxical it seems nowadays, it is indisputable that many young people are coming closer to Christ, and the Orthodox faith becomes their struggle but also the joy of their life. They need Light and freedom! Young people are saying, through their agony and creative effort and persistence, that they are seeking principles, that they have worries about the world and want to struggle against the great lack of Faith and the situations and hardhearted people of our times who lack a sense of justice and respect and have selfish aims. These become thorns which hurts the youth in soul and mind.

Young people are present in the Church and we pray for them. We are certain that the Grace of God shelters them and their sincere and strong faith becomes hope and consolation for everyone.

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

Metr. Serafim: I believe that the Americans of Greek descent are a valuable part of undivided Hellenism, bringing Greek Orthodox civilization into the great country of USA. And they play a significant role in the formation of the foreign policy of that great country, which protects Mother Country, the Homeland from the constant threat of Turkish revisionism.

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