Sons of the devil and St Paul’s city – a sequel

Sons of the devil and St Paul’s city – a sequel

The metropolitan of Thessaloniki, Anthimos, has never been known to be a man of compassion and peace, especially when the subject contained any of the words Turkey, Turkish or Turk.

Unluckily, he was elected and ordained a metropolitan on July 14, 1974, about a week before the Turkish invasion of northern Cyprus. Despite his spectacular credentials within the Greek Orthodox Church, he probably will never become the ecumenical patriarch as millions of Orthodox fear such an elevation may lead to a Turkish invasion of Athens.

His Eminence Anthimos is the author of the leaflet “The Lord’s Voice” (1965-72) which some film producers claim later inspired “The Lord of the Rings.”

On Aug. 3, Anthimos spoke on the occasion of the sermon of the Sunday Holy Mass at the Agios Demetrios Church in Thessaloniki. In his speech he complained of Thessaloniki’s warm reception of Turkish tourists who, according to the metropolitan, right away visit the city’s Ataturk’s museum (where Ataturk was born). “Just think of what Hellenism went through because of that man!” he said, deploring the habit.

He then threatened the mayor of Thessaloniki that he would find young people and destroy road signs if the mayor, as he pledged, made some of the city’s signs bilingual (Greek and Turkish).

Anthimos claimed that Thessaloniki was established by St. Paul in the name of Jesus Christ although the city bears the name of one of Alexander’s half-sisters 300 years before Christ. “And St. Paul has honored us with two epistles which were in the New Testament, that is, the Gospel!” the metropolitan said. He probably caused shy smiles as some in his audience may have thought: The Gospels are one thing, St. Paul’s epistles are quite another. The Gospel is not the entire New Testament.

Anthimos has been a staunch opponent of a plan to create a Department of Islamic Studies in the Theology School of Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University. He said that “he believes God will not let [the plan or the school] go well!” To which a Greek friend answered: “Yes, because we all know that God is a chauvinistic Greek, don’t we?”

Then in a long tirade, the metropolitan detailed a secret Turkish plan to re-invade the Balkan peninsula. His proof? A newspaper article. Relax, Your Eminence, we Turks and Greeks would already have been at each other’s throats again if every newspaper article were evidence of an international conspiracy with a military plan. You will definitely live a longer and healthier life if you stop viewing every Turkish backpacker in St. Paul’s city that was built in 300 BC as a secret Turkish agent or the protagonists of an occupying Turkish force.

Sadly, the metropolitan has a confused mind about his favorite tourists, too: The Russians. “[In the last few years] the people who came here… to honor Thessaloniki and to pay respect to our great monuments… were the Russians!” Then Anthimos says he does not have a particular love for the Russians. All the same, “We love Russia because it is an Orthodox country!” In his logic all Muslims should love the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant because it is Muslim.

But wait, do we, in Turkey, not devise foreign policy a bit “au Anthimos?”

Finally, the metropolitan explains why he prefers Russian tourists in Thessaloniki to the Turkish. Pointing to his throat, he says that the Russian women enter churches “dressed up to here.” Which prompted my Greek friend to tell me: “I did not know Turkish women entered churches naked.”

Anthimos’ historical view of the founding of the city where he is the metropolitan could be problematic, and so could be his understanding of nuances between the Gospel and the New Testament. But if he is sincere about his bad wishes for the Turks, he needs some lessons in geography. He concluded his speech: “Let Christ be with us, our faith, our neighbors!”

“Our neighbors?!” 

May you live a long and healthy life, Your Eminence!