Thursday, July 12, 2012

On Clerical Involvement in Politics

July 11, 2012

"It's a sin when some Clergy divide people according to their parties criteria and identify with one party faction. This is the reason why the canon laws of the Church forbid to Clergy involvement in politics", said Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agios Vlasios to BriefingNews.

When asked about clergy who involve themselves with political issues, and generally politics, and whether there are limits to this, the Hierarch stressed that the Church is the Body of Christ, the spiritual mother of all Christians, and should remain open to all people, regardless of color, race, class, or political order.

He further said:

"This is the greatness of the Church, that it is not enclosed in small intimate groups that are distinguished by particular political parties and ideologies. And like every mother, She shows Her love for all children, who may belong to different parties, and so much more should this be done by the Church.

It is within this framework that the Clergy should move, as Spiritual Fathers and spiritual mothers of people who are looking for affection, love, freedom, meaning of life.

So it's a sin when some Clergy divide people according to their parties criteria and identify with one party faction. This is the reason why the canon laws of the Church forbid to Clergy involvement in politics.

Of course, we must make a distinction. Politics is one thing when it is an adjective and involves the life of the city, and it is another thing when politics is a noun and is involved in party practices.

With the first a Clergyman is doing politics, after damage has been done to a society and he participates in events, dealing with social and charitable works. Not so with the second meaning, when he becomes a party member and openly supports one political party formation.

When there are elections the Cleric is free to vote for the party he thinks will better address the social and economic problems, but cannot propagate to the Parishioners the party he has chosen.

Some parties try to get backed up by the Clergy and people of the Church, but Clerics should not succumb to this temptation.

On this occasion I want to emphasize my view that the Church should be disentangled from the tight embrace of the state in order to gain Its freedom, to manage Its house, according to canon law.

I cannot understand why we need a Charter which is the law of the State, to determine the many details about the inner life of the Church. One law would suffice to define the personality of the Church to be authorized according to the sacred canons.

Also, I cannot understand why there is a law of the State on Ecclesiastical Courts, which regulates many details, even as to what a Clegyman-judge should wear.

It would suffice for one law and a few articles that would set out some basic principles and leave the Church to judge their Clergy in accordance with the sacred canons, without interfering in secular law.

Unfortunately, the current situation in some areas is the prevalence of a conducive political-state spirit. We must put forward an order in these matters, so that the inner life of the Church will not to be considered and understood as a prisoner of state-civil law.

However, if we Clergy see things through the ecclesiastical perspective, we will not be possessed by insecurities and will not divide the parties into hostile or friendly, and will not engage in electoral dilemmas.

One is the work of the Church and another is the work of the State and party.

When a State seeks and is able to address poverty and unemployment, then it must be welcomed, because it cares for the interests of the people."

Translated by John Sanidopoulos
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