January 27, 2014

Archbishop of Crete: "Every Hour I Live the Pain of the People"

Anna Konstadoulakis
January 23, 2014

"Give me money, I'm ready to kill myself."

"Give me money; if you don't give it I will steal."

People, mostly from Heraklion, who are distressed from debt, daily visit Archbishop Irinaios of Crete seeking financial assistance.

They are drowning in debt, have families to support, can't find a job, have lost their courage and hopes, and have stopped thinking rationally.

"Whoever comes here, we help. We do not turn them away," the Archbishop said to Patris. He further said: "Every day the numbers increase of our fellow citizens who ask for help. They are despondent people who tell me they will kill themselves, they will go and steal. Every day it gets worse."

"Our charitable fund is empty, so I offer the poor my salary."

According to the Archbishop of Crete, most of those seeking help are not foreigners but from Heraklion, however, there are so many needs and they are so large that the charitable fund of the Archdiocese is empty.

Moreover, in recent years His Eminence has offered his entire salary, amounting to 1900 euros, to people who need help. He told us: "At the moment the Archdiocese has 35,000 euros from contributions by parishes (each parish offers 7% of its revenues each year) to cover operating costs such as electricity, water, etc. and nothing else.

The charitable fund is depleted. We have given all our money to people who are in need and every month I give my salary which is 1900 euros. For years my entire salary has gone to the poor."

When asked what he does when he needs some money, he said: "I don't need anything. I eat at the Archdiocese, I have a bed where I sleep, so I have no need for anything else."

According to the Archbishop, when the money from his salary is gone, he tries to borrow it to give to those in need.

When we asked the Archbishop if his example was followed by other hierarchs, he said: "I'm not occupied with what others do."

"Despite the crisis, many continue to spend."

He is not optimistic about the future because, as he stresses, people, despite the great crisis continue to spend brazenly, to exploit their fellow man and have not changed their mindset.

He explains: "There are people showing great solidarity for their neighbor. From another view, too many others spend without thinking, not being very economical. I was very surprised when I read that throughout the holidays, there was a lot of movement in the market and the people were very consumerist. I am concerned about the way in which we are heading."

"Why do we see only foreigners in the fields?"

The Archbishop added something else that troubles him very much. He said that Greeks do not want to do certain specific jobs. "I recently went to a plant-breeder and asked the owner why he is only hiring foreigners. He replied that Greeks do not want jobs like these.

We must realize that we all must change, otherwise one day we will be strangers in our own land," he added.

Translated by John Sanidopoulos.