Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Property and the Power of the Church in Europe.

During the past few years of the economic crisis, many weak points of the Greek society became apparent and obvious. All the cracks, all the mishandling. Of course the only ones who were asked to pay the price were the people who had nothing to do with it in the first place; the ordinary Greek families, the Greek middle class.

The rich elite, the Greek politicians and all their supporters or accomplices were not affected. Them and another surprising group of people, the Greek Orthodox Church! The Orthodox Church of Greece, like most Churches in Europe and the world, do not pay taxes to the state. I think because obviously they think that their property is not of this world but divine, given to them by God himself!

In Greece particularly, if you want to become a monk or a nun you got to have property. If you want to join a monastic sect, you got to offer them all property you have, all land and money. If you do not have anything to offer, well usually they let you wait or you never join. A friend of my aunt has MS (multiple sclerosis) and is bound to a wheelchair. His is devoted to God and one of his greatest wishes is to join a monastery and serve the God he believes in. He wants to find a purpose in his life. But no monastery will give him this satisfaction. He lives on social welfare you see.

The Greek Church owns a huge number of sites on Greek soil. And according to Greek law that favors this medieval system, any land that is owned by the Church can not be developed unless there is a church built in it. For that reason in the city I originally come from, Thessaloniki in northern Greece, in order to develop a piece of land and turn it in a huge shopping mall the COSMOS- MEDITERRANEAN, they had to built an orthodox church in the middle of it. Because that piece of land they wanted to develop, belonged to the Church fully or partially.

The thing that annoys me the most is the hypocrisy. How can any religion preach that if we have two coats, we have to give one to the poor, seeks to collect more and more property. And not just that. While the Orthodox Church has organized soup kitchens and charities to help the poorest during the crisis, it has not whatsoever offered any of its property to the state to help the repayments. Nor they offered to pay taxes and contribute to the country's recovery.

They are rather like the Pharisees that themselves seem to detest for crucifying Jesus Christ! Numerous scandals broke out as far back as I can remember with priests or monks getting involved in illegal financial agreements and transactions. The most recent and famous one, was the case of the Vatopedi real estate scandal where the monastery was trading low-value land for high-value state property in a deal with the New Democracy government of Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis. The cost to the state is believed to have been at least €100 million. 

The battles for power between the Orthodox Church and the Greek state go back as far as my childhood. When the Greek state decided that it would be more appropriate to remove the statement of religion from our national identification cards, the Church saw it as the new cards of the "Antichrist" and they campaigned against the new proposed cards. No wonder nothing progressive blossoms in Greece and not just because of the Orthodox Church, but of the rather Byzantine mentality that modern Greeks have.

As if the Orthodox Church was not bad enough for Europe, we also have something worse and more sinister; the Catholic Church. In Ireland they are responsible for the raping, beating and abuse of thousands of children under their watch. And not just in Ireland, but in Germany, Belgium, Austria and many other Catholic countries all over Europe and the rest of the world. 

Because of the poverty that existed in Ireland years ago and after the end of British rule, the Catholic Church took the role of the leading force on the island. Families had no means of work and survival and many kids were sent to boarding schools to get some education or to reform schools to be "educated" for being wretched, corrupt and poor! Most schools in fact were controlled by the Church back then. Even rich families often chose to send their kids in boarding schools to offer their kids "proper and good" christian education.

The result was beatings, rapes and in my opinion broken whole generations of people. The trauma caused by the actions of those priests can never be compensated, not that there was any true effort made. Nobody was jailed, or paid for what he had done. The victims basically just got an acknowledgement, an official apology from the Church of Ireland and the Vatican. That's all. 

What I do find hilarious about the Catholic preachings is the fact that while the priests were prohibiting everybody else to have a satisfactory sexual life, they were the only ones who seemed to have one. They banned and condemned sex before marriage, gay sex even masturbation. Yet it was acceptable between them to rape young boys and girls! 

Human sexuality goes hand in hand with human creativity and freedom of thought! Suppress human sexuality and you suppress our ability to express ourselves, to think creatively and freely. You create unhappy people who follow rules, human robots who obey and can be controlled. The Catholic Church knows this and they still insist to promote those views. 

Even worse are their crimes in Africa, where they suggest that people should not be using condoms to protect themselves from AIDS, rather abstain from sex altogether! If it was into my power, I would charge such people for crimes against humanity. But then again who would be open minded enough to support such move and who would be rich and powerful enough to prosecute them?

If we take to account the properties that they also own around Ireland and Europe, always the largest and best estates, it is easy to see how they maintain their rule and influence over the European population. No, I am not against God himself, I am declaring myself also as a Christian. I just do not follow any dogmas, as I feel they are just political divisions that came to be because of the power mongering and politics of our "religious" leaders. And I do not really think that the Church today really represents anything divine! If they did, they would not give so much emphasis in material goods.

Of course not only the Orthodox and Catholic Churches are to blame for everything. Some protestant sects are as bad, like some Presbyterian and other conservative sects. Likewise many Muslim sects, the so called "new" religion of Europe. As Islam expands in Europe, the last thing we want is another ultra conservative, fundamental Islamic expansion and establishment. 

Us Europeans have fought hard to liberate ourselves from the clutches of the mind control of the established Christian dogmas. I accept Islam in Europe and Muslims in our lands, but I would like to see a more liberal, secular European version of Islam to match our values. I would never want to see Shariah law in Europe, I am against any extreme and fundamental religious doctrine, either Islamic, Catholic or Orthodox.

What I would like to see is a total separation between the State and the Church, with the roles of the second being limited in a more humanitarian and spiritual role. Totally separated by politics, education, property, finances and money. There should be no religious schools and the subject of religion should be taught with no books, just open discussions and readings from religious books of all dogmas. 

The Church should not own any property and if it does it certainly should pay tax on it, just like the rest of us. It should donate all of the treasures they got to the state and to the people they supposed to be serving and have them in a museum for all the believers to have access to. Or dedicate this wealth in building hospitals, schools, libraries, parks, and sport facilities that we and our children need.

I am not preaching for a Godless Europe. Rather a more spiritual one, in which religion will be there to answer all questions of the people about God and help them reach a level of knowledge and maturity. Whenever Europeans want to explore their spiritual side, the Church should be there to assist them. Not try to manipulate and control them.


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