Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Anti-Defamation League urges Greek Orthodox Church to condemn antisemitic remarks

New York, NY, December 22, 2010 …The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today urged the Greek Orthodox Church to publicly denounce blatantly anti-Semitic comments made by one of its bishops.

During an interview with a popular television show in Greece, Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus blamed Jews for orchestrating the Holocaust and accused "world Zionism" of a conspiracy to enslave Greece and the Orthodox Church. The bishop also charged Jewish bankers with controlling international finance.

"Metropolitan Seraphim's blatantly anti-Semitic comments are shocking and deeply disturbing, and we urge the Greek Orthodox Church to unequivocally condemn his words," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "It is especially troubling to hear such words from a religious leader. The Orthodox Church must make clear that anti-Semitism in all its forms is unacceptable."

The League expressed its concern in letters to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and to Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Hieronymos II.

In an interview with Greece's Mega TV, Metropolitan Seraphim reportedly said, "Adolf Hitler was an instrument of world Zionism and was financed from the renowned Rothschild family with the sole purpose of convincing the Jews to leave the shores of Europe and go to Israel to establish the new Empire."

If the man actually said those things he should be deposed. I wonder if he is related to Bishop Williamson.


Jim said...

I would suggest he is Bishop Williamson...on steroids!

Teena Blackburn said...

Wow. That's really ugly. You know, you wonder if they ever remember that our Lord was a Jew, that "salvation comes from the Jews," and that the Jews are still beloved by God. How can you ever have a Jewish person accept Christ if his spokesmen say stupid and vile things like this?

Anonymous said...

Lord have mercy.

Fr John Chagnon

Anthony said...

I hope I am not stirring up a hornet's nest here, and phrasing the question in a neutral way: how widespread would you say antisemitism is in historically Orthodox countries?

Matushka Anna said...

It's hard to imagine how any *sane* person could seriously believe all of that. If he really did say these things, then I agree with you: he should be deposed.

Anonymous said...

I have found that there is definitely something of an undercurrent of anti-Semitism amongst Greeks in Greece. I'm not sure why that would be, exactly, but what I can also say is that I've found that Greeks in Greece generally have never met a conspiracy theory they didn't like.

There's a good friend of mine who was born in Athens but raised in the States, and when I met her father for the first time, one of his memorable quotes was, "Well, of course we will never accept the Jews because they are the ones who killed Christ." The irony is, he's a pretty secular Greek, so I'm not sure about the relationship to Orthodoxy per se.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Low level anti-semitism remains an unfortunately respectable prejudice in certain corners of Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Among the Old Calendarist schismatic sects it tends to be much more virulent. But it is rarely this open or disgusting in the canonical Church. I would love to see the much anticipated forthcoming Great and Holy Pan Orthodox Synod condemn it in crystal clear language. Such a declaration was one of the few really positive things that emerged from the Vatican II Council in the 1960's. But I do not believe it is on the tightly scripted agenda.


Igumen Gregory said...

The best thing that any Orthodox Bishop or Priest should ever utter publically is: "I believe , O Lord, and I confess that Thou art truly the Christ, the Son of the Living God Who came into this world to save sinners, of whom I am chief."

Michael said...


Two points:

1). Keep in mind that this kind of prejudice runs both ways. I have read the "Toldoth Yeshu" in English translation, and the calumnies against Christ and Christians are the equal of anything I have heard against Jews from "anti-Semites." Also, I know several Orthodox priests who have been to the Holy Land, and they tell me that ordinary Jews in the street go out of their way to spit on them, if they are dressed in clerical garb. If you are a "civilian" tourist, no problem - Israel needs tourist dollars!

So, this kind of religious prejudice has been, and will continue to be, a constant undercurrent. It will never go away, it can only be managed.

2). There is also the problem of the "Israel lobby" in the U.S. In the same way that Americans are increasingly hated around the world because of the policies of G. W. Bush (and continued and enhanced by Obama), Jews around the world are resented because of the absolute, comprehensive, unbreakable hammerlock that the Israel lobby has on the foreign policy of the U.S.

The irony of it is, that AIPAC and the Israel lobby does not get its money and muscle from American Jews. Most Jews in America are indifferent to Israel, have nothing to do with AIPAC, and are far more critical of Israel than the average American Gentile. Rather, it is the "Christian Zionist" Dispensationalists who provide the political muscle which makes it impossible for politicians and diplomats to pursue an independent foreign policy with regard to Israel.

Going after people like Bishop Williamson or Metropolitan Seraphim is just an endless game of "whack-a-mole." It may make us feel all smug and righteous, but it does nothing to address the root of the problem. Until and unless the theological fraud of Dispensationalism is publicly discredited, and the loony sectarians thereof driven from public life, then the Israel lobby will continue to be the tail which wags the American foreign policy dog, young Americans will continue to be sent to fight Israel's wars, and Jews and Americans alike will continue to be hated throughout the world.

A good place to start would be Joseph Canfield's biography of Cyrus Scofield: "The Incredible Scofield and His Book." Canfield exposes Scofield as an unprincipled scoundrel. Orthodox hierarchs, and their counterparts among traditional Protestants and Roman Catholics, need to start taking aim at this sect.

Matushka Anna said...

You know, it's one thing to dislike people, however irrationally. It's another to declare outright lies about them. We're not talking about someone saying "I don't like Jews", we're talking about someone saying that they arranged the holocaust with Hitler - to kill themselves. Huh?

Anthony said...

I'm not sure how this is supposed to look for the Greek Orthodox church but oh well.

LV said...

"loony sectarians driven from public life" -- excuse me? DRIVEN? There are all sorts of people in public life I disagree with, some I fear, but none I advocate driving out of public life. What a dreadful thing to say!
Btw, I am an Orthodox woman with a Jewish grandchild -- anti-semitism hits very close to home.

Michael said...


Let me clarify. When I say "driven" I mean "ostracized." In other words, "laughed off the stage" or "not to be believed or taken seriously."

Yes, free speech is under threat throughout the Western world and I do not advocate legal suppression at all. However, truly crazy beliefs need to be publicly discredited.

People should have the legal right to say whatever they think. However, the purpose thereof, is to allow error to be exposed and truth to be revealed.

Does that help?

Anonymous said...

A Wonderful Christmas to all,

As a Greek Orthodox,I too find Anti-Semitism repugnant. However, this Bishop is not typical of Greeks in Greece or the Church of Greece. I have family and friends in Greece, and I spend time there every year.

For the record, there are four Bishops of the Church of Greece that have been recognized as "righteous among the nations" by the Yad Vashem in Jerusalem for the support they gave to the Jewish community of Greece during the Holocaust.

It is a fact that the only public letter made by a religious leader in all Europe denouncing the Holocaust was that of Orthodox Archbishop of Athens Damaskinos.

One of the most moving stories in occupied Greece was on the island of Zakynthos where the Bishop and the Mayor were responsible for encouraging the Christians to support the whole Jewish population on that island (all 300 Jews on the island survived).

See the following article

In addition, the following quote from Nora Levin's The Holocaust,

"In contrast with the Pope's decision to give the Bishops liberty of action, the Orthodox Church adopted
a different policy. The Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople wrote to all of his Bishops in the Balkans and
in central Europe, urging them to help Jews and to announce in their Churches that concealing Jews was
a sacred duty. This might explain the fact that in Slovakia, an essentially Catholic Country, more Jews were temporarily able to escape deportation by "conversion" to the Orthodox Church than to Roman Catholicism".

And the following article about the Archbishop of Greece during the occupation and also mentions 650 Greek Orthodox priests who arrested for hiding Greek Jews.

The late Archbishop Christodoulos of Greece (1998-2008)condemned anti-semitism on several occasions and attended Holocaust memorials.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I has also condemned anti-Semitism and had been honored by the Holocaust Memorial in Washington.
He has condemned Anti-Semitism in his book "Encountering the Mystery", and has presided over memorials for the Jewish community of Greece in Thessaloniki in past years.

For anyone with an interest in Greece's behaviour during the Holocaust and the anger that Nazi officials Adolf Eichmann expressed because the Greek Orthodox rejected Nazi racism, please read
historian Mark Mazower's "Inside Hitler's Greece".

Please do not stigmatize Greece or the Greek Church owing to the comments of one individual.

A wonderful Christmas to all.

Ted, an Orthodox Greek

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ted. Deplorable to see the gross generalizations on this thread. The relationship between Orthodox Churches, culture and Christians with Jews is incredibly complex, and not reducible to simplistic judgements.

Anonymous said...

I meant to include the following link in my previous post.


Anthony said...

Thanks for the comments, especially Ted's.

Anonymous said...

Comment to Anthony,

The following is in response to the question of anti-Semitism in Orthodox Countries.

Countries like Greece,Bulgaria,and Serbia actually have very good records. I have already posted the Greek record during the Holocaust.

The Bulgarian Church during the period of the Bulgarian Exarchate actually stood up against the Bulgraian King who was an ally of the Nazis. Metropolitan Stefan has
been recognized by the Yad Vashem for threatening the King of Bulgaria by asserting that the Church would lead a revolt against him if the Bulgarians permitted the Nazis to harm their Jewish population.

In addition there is Serbia which during the Nazi occupation protected its own Jewish population. It has become fashionable to condemn the Serbs owing to the recent wars in the Balkans. Serbia however valiantly resisted the Nazis in contrast to the Catholic Croats and Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo.

During the war Serbs and Jews were slaughtered together by the Croatian Catholic Ustashe movement and their Muslim allies.

If anything the Balkan Orthodox countries have less anti-Semitism than western european countries.

What is truly tragic is how very little is known about modern Orthodox societies and countries and so the media becomes a source for disseminating information that is either out of context, or that fails to inform people about the whole story. The case of Serbia is the best example of this.

As is the case of the Christians living in the Middle East of which there is little known about them.

Happy New Year,