BURAK BEKDİL > Dear Archbishop: God is not your central banker!

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Two years ago, amid the growing flames of a punishing economic crisis in Greece, Bartholomew I, archbishop of Constantinople and New Rome, advised the Greeks that “the solution to the punishing economic crisis is a return to God and Christian values,” inspiring “His All Holiness: God is not your central banker,” (this column, Oct. 11, 2011). Since then, apparently, the Greeks have refused to return to God and Christian values. And their Hellenic brothers in Cyprus must have abandoned God and Christian values altogether, as evinced by the near financial collapse on the island of bitter lemons.

Well, that’s not exactly a financial crisis. It is a spiritual crisis, as the leader of the Church of Cyprus, Archbishop Chrysostomos II, puts it. Oh, but Chrysostomos II is not just the leader of the church. He is the energy minister: After a deadly munitions blast in 2011 knocked out a key power station in (Greek) Cyprus, the archbishop called on Greek Cypriots not to use the electricity the Turks in the island’s north proposed to provide. “He’d rather get by with a lantern and a flashlight.” He is the agriculture minister: He once declared the consumption of halloumi cheese produced by Turkish Cypriots as “religiously not permissible.”

He is the foreign minister: He recently had a scheduled meeting with the ambassador of Russia. He is the foreign trade minister: He had a scheduled meeting with Russian businessmen operating in Cyprus. He is the social works minister: He said that the church’s property belonged to the people, but “dignity” prevented Cypriots from asking for help. He is the EU minister: “Unfortunately, our European partners are against us and they want to punish us.” He is the president of the republic: He has called on the finance minister and central bank president to resign. And he is a business conglomerate: His church is one of Cyprus’s biggest landowners.

Esteemed Archbishop; you say that your parish is so dignified that they do not ask their church for help, i.e., they refuse to ask for their own money! But their elected leaders have been in cutthroat bargaining with those Cypriot-hating Europeans for help. Does the Cypriot dignity disappear when it comes to asking for foreign help?

If the ecumenical leader of Orthodoxy, Bartholomew I, is right about the panacea for the Greek crisis (and I know it is out of the question that you could disagree with His All Holiness), that is “a return to God and Christian values, why do you think the Cypriot “spiritual crisis” erupted? And, if this spiritual crisis is the result of Cypriots’ abandoning of Christian values, what do the (non-Hellenic) Europeans have to do with this? Does God’s hand manipulate the Europeans to punish Cypriots for having abandoned Christian values? Why should the Europeans help a nation that has abandoned Christian values? And if this is a spiritual crisis, why do you call on the finance minister and the central bank president to resign? Do you not think that it is you who should resign if this is a spiritual crisis, not an economic one?

If you really want to help your nation overcome this unpleasant situation, you can always tell your parish priests to offer major discounts on their matrimonial, funeral and baptism services. And it would not be too bad if you gave up some of the huge plots of precious land your holy empire owns. I know the Cypriots are so dignified that they would refuse to ask for the help of your church, but since this is a spiritual crisis, perhaps they might accept a spiritual hand to help, instead of a helping hand from your ungrateful European partners.

Good luck, archbishop-energy minister-agriculture minister-foreign minister-foreign trade minister-social works minister-EU minister-and-president!


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Notice on comments

Pawel Bury

4/19/2013 2:15:45 PM

Bartholomew, the ecumenical Patriarch of Christianity, is a nice old man who truly cares for people. Every religion has turned to be a business in order to survive. These are two different issues.


4/5/2013 4:42:54 PM

Mara, in the book of Acts, chapter 10, verses 1-17, God, through Peter's vision, abrogates all things considered by the Jews as ceremoniously unclean for consumption. Regards

mara mcglothin

4/4/2013 10:59:04 PM

FOUNDALIS "Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone" It also says in the Old Testament of the bible that you shouldn't eat anything that comes from the sea that doesn't have a fin, but many Chrisitans do. To each his own. We shouldn't judge eachother. THESSALONIAN While you might not have found the article enjoyable, I thought is was great. Spot on VARGEN!


4/4/2013 3:08:11 PM

@Harry Foundalis. Indeed I do have more than one coat just as Mr. Bekdil, in all probability, does. Don't you? A rather lame, irrelevant and or vain attempt on your behalf to preach the fundamental values of Christianity and or teach theology on this site sir... By the way, I do stand behind my opinion, which I am entitled to just as you are, on the value of this article. Regards

john albay

4/4/2013 8:18:57 AM

This artical is correct but my opinion is that relegion is a private affaire and the church(mosque) should keep out of politics and politics should stay out of religion. Most wars are started by relegion so the less said the better it is for everyone.

Erik Johansson

4/3/2013 11:17:34 PM

You could argue that what that archbishop said was a bit over the top (“the solution to the punishing economic crisis is a return to God and Christian values”). But Christian work ethic actually promotes frugality, hard work and honesty. A recipe for achieving a sound society in other words, both in a moral and economical sense. See Max Weber. "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism".

Harry Foundalis

4/3/2013 9:13:33 PM

@Thessalonian, since you mentioned Christ, if Christians were to follow Christ’s teachings they should have only one coat, having donated their second one to a neighbor who doesn’t have (Luke 3:11). Yet I bet you have more than one coat in your wardrobe. One of Mr. Bekdil’s persistent themes in his articles is to reveal hypocrisy and the hypocrites. So I don’t agree with you that this is a “vain [...] attempt to create something worth reading.” It sure revealed some hypocrites to me. ;-)

Stefanos Kalogirou

4/3/2013 4:41:04 PM

@Vargen Vargen you are correct as usual ! but my "spot on"s to your comments were censored many times. I hope this one gets through since I am not belittling Turkey. If the clergy was rotten to the root there would be not a chance to have survived for so many centuries and yes there are people of the cloak who care. However, like every earthy organization churches aren't flawless. So as @Thessalonian reminds us there has to be a separation of State and Church & no Iran style theocracies.

mara mcglothin

4/3/2013 4:15:40 PM

VARGEN VARGEN Spot on! SUAT doesn't understand the charity of the church or how people actually support the church. It is a foreign concept for him. Great writing BURAK BEY. You have finally attacked something that your posters can get behind. Please address the issue of Zionism so they will surely have something to talk about.

dogan kemal ileri

4/3/2013 3:43:59 PM

How refreshing MrBB has trained his cannons on the Cypriot orthodox church and not for once on RTE or Davutoglu etc etc.and Turkiye/Islam has not bee denigrated once in this article. Well keep up the good work MrBB and perhaps in the interest of fairness you can have an article that will blast away all vestiges of Zionism that porports to goodness and expose their nasty side.
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