On June 11, Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and all Greece, along with Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus, inaugurated the new Cathedral in Nicosia, which is dedicated to the founder and patron of the Church of Cyprus, Saint Barnabas the Apostle.
In an interview with the newspaper Fileleutheros, regarding his feelings from his participation in the inauguration of the new Cathedral, he stressed:
“The members of my entourage and I remember dearly the welcome by the always acclaimed Archbishop of Cyprus, Chrysostomos.
We are impressed by this great work, the beautiful Cathedral of Nicosia. I am sure that it will soon be a landmark of the island’s capital.”
Regarding the experience from the economic crisis in Greece and the COVID-19 pandemic, which still affects the world, he aptly noted:
“This pandemic affliction was an unprecedented situation that no one could have imagined would happen. But God has other plans for us, and years later we may see what we learnt from this global tragedy that has claimed millions of lives.
But it is also the occasion to see what we do wrong, to which extent we are to blame and what we really should do from now on in all areas of our lives. Science, humanity and of course how much we take care of our spirit. The pandemic is our teacher for the next day.
It remains and depends on us to keep the wisdom, to learn the essence of the crisis and not to repeat mistakes and failures.
The people you talk to and especially the young people, what do they tell you, what are their concerns, what do they expect from the Church?
Allow me to tell you what I think. Young people are those who express both their expectations and their concern. They can also define the course of their lives with their honesty and readiness, and where they place the Church in their lives. The Church is a place of love for all.
The Church embraces everyone, regardless of age, intentions and sinfulness.
As long as everyone is ready to open their heart and accept the love of the Church and to have a good choice, without of course forbidding anyone to express their thoughts, concerns and criticism of the priests.
Your letter has been recently read regarding the views of Metropolitan Neophytos Morphou during the sitting of the Holy Synod. What bothered you? Do you consider his views dangerous and why?
We, the Holy Synod, expressed our complaint about the otherwise beloved Metropolitan. For this case and in general, I believe we must express the position of unity, the voice of all.
Clearly, I, as a shepherd, also have my view and I advocate them fervently. I obey, however, what the hierarchy says.
I support my positions because I consider them to be saving. I fought for them and I keep them for myself. Others may judge that they are not suitable for a million reasons.
Therefore, I must comply with the will of the majority. Because, after all, that’s my job as a shepherd.
Are the Orthodox Church and science friends or foes?
Of course, they are friends. The Church Fathers say so. The Church has its purpose, science has its work and, when useful, they cooperate for the sake of the people.
Does the Russian Orthodox Church have “imperialist” aspirations in the field of Orthodoxy? How do you explain its attitude towards the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Patriarchate of Alexandria and the Churches of Greece and of Cyprus? Are you concerned about the fact that other Churches have not commemorated Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv and All Ukraine?
I have to refer you back to my original answer. We must maintain the unity of the Church in every way.
That is why I am sure that in the end, unity and consensus will prevail and we will all be on the same path of love.
Let us not dwell on the ephemeral and the human things and let us strive for the unity of the Church, to humble ourselves a little more for the sake of the people.
With humility, the Church remains prosperous and solid for thousands of years and this path I would suggest we follow.
All those with divisive logic do not help the Church either, much less their future.
Regarding the book “The Third Rome. Moscow and the Throne of Orthodoxy” written by journalist Alexandros Massavetas, Archbishop Ieronymos answered: “To be honest, I do not remember offering this book to Greek hierarchs. However, it is a remarkable book.”
Given the transformation of the Church into an ideology of “religionism,” how can one tell the difference between what the Church is and what is not?
I do not see it in that way. The Church is not an ideology of “religionism.” It is an experience, it is life.
You live the Church, you breathe it, you assimilate it into your being. You do not analyze it in political and ideological terms that are valid today and are annulled tomorrow.
Why can’t Orthodox and Roman Catholics end up in the common celebration of Easter, when in fact Pope Francis agrees that the Easter of the Roman Catholics should coincide with that of the Orthodox?
We must clarify that the relations of the Churches cannot be diplomatic, nor can they have a diplomatic character.
We speak, teach, and serve the prevailing truth. Therefore, we cannot compromise or “mitigate” the centuries-old truth for the sake of diplomacy and a bourgeois disposition.
What role did the Ecumenical Patriarchate play and continues to play today for the Greater Hellenism?
Our Ecumenical Patriarchate is home to the Greater Hellenism under its roof.
It keeps the faith, the spirit and the love for the motherland alive in all Greeks, wherever they are in this world.
I would say that population ageing is a modern phenomenon. In your opinion, who are the true Elders in the Orthodox Church and how can one distinguish them?
We have seen many times cases that were a real blessing for the Church and the people.
Sometimes, however, the original intentions were diverted, things went the dangerous way and people were not only not helped, but their personal freedom was undermined.
We have, unfortunately, seen several times how the ability of people to act, think and determine their own next steps is diminished.
In a nutshell, it is a blessing and can turn into a curse because it can threaten a person’s individual freedoms and rights. That’s why we need attention and critical thinking.