The Ambassador of the United States to Athens, Geoffrey Pyatt, was highly acidic in his comments against Russia’s policy on church affairs while accusing Moscow of using the Church “as a wedge to foment instability and undermine democracy.”
Speaking at a conference on Religious Diplomacy organised by Foreign Affairs in Athens, the US ambassador to Greece criticised Kremlin’s policy denouncing that “Russia is using religion as part of its hybrid warfare strategy, as a tool to achieve political objectives and spread false narratives.”
Geoffrey Pyatt also made remarks on the latest developments regarding the conflict between the Patriarchate of Moscow with the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church of Greece on the Ukrainian autocephaly issue. In fact, he compared the energy policy of Russia to the way it exerts pressure on church affairs.
“And just as Moscow manipulates energy resources to extract political concessions and high prices, it’s now cutting off tourism and sacred practices, like commemoration in prayers, from countries that are not toeing its political line.”
He supported Archbishop Ieronymos and the Holy Synod which were in favour of Ukrainian autocephaly, describing the support of the Church of Greece towards the Ecumenical Patriarch’s decision to grant autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine as an example of His moral courage and leadership.
The US ambassador expressed his respect for the importance of Orthodoxy, the Greek culture and the Greek people, stressing that “Orthodoxy preserved Hellenism through Ottoman occupation and has been key to keeping Greek society together during the economic crisis.”
He praised the significant role played by the Greek Orthodox Church in strengthening the people-to-people ties and connecting the Greek American diaspora to their homeland. He stood by the side of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, whom he praised for “his firm commitment to interfaith dialogue,” said Geoffrey Pyatt.
Finally, the US ambassador made remarks on the Ukrainian autocephaly issue, reiterating that “the United States is deeply concerned about abuses against religious freedom in Russia-occupied Crimea,” while recalling that the US continues to “support for the right of the Ukrainian people to determine how they worship and in what context they practice their religion.”