Israeli Embassy in Greece Deplores Orthodox Leader's Language
12 December 2005
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Agence France Presse
ATHENS, Dec 12 (AFP) -
The Israeli Embassy in Athens deplored the inappropriate remarks of an influential, Greek Orthodox leader Monday after he compared Israel to the devil during a sermon.
"It is sad that when speaking today inside a church he chose to use a worn out expression that puts Israel in a negative light," said an embassy statement describing remarks made by Monsignor Christodoulos, the powerful head of the Greek Orthodox Church.
Christodoulos said that Greek society risked "going to Israel, or into the hands of the devil," because of its apathy "in the face of evil forces that threaten to undermine this country by trying to dechristianize it."
His remarks were made during the consecration ceremony for a Greek Orthodox priest.
"As a Greek Jew I am saddened by this language," said Jewish Greek Council (KIS) President Moisis Constantinis.
The KIS criticized Christodoulos in 2001 when the high priest accused Jews of "being behind" the government's decision to remove religion from Greek identity cards.
Greeks are more than 95 percent Greek Orthodox Christian and the Orthodox Church plays an influential role in a country where church and state are not officially separate.
Christodoulos also embarrassed Greek officials when he said he detected "divine anger" behind the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.
And he regularly provokes the ire of neighboring Turkey with his anti-Turkish comments.