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The news that three sons of a Greek Orthodox priest, Fr Triandaphyllos Xyros, have been arrested for terrorist bombings and murder in Greece has come to some as a shock. How could three of the ten sons of this Greek priest have been responsible for no fewer than eleven murders as well as robberies and bombings? How could they, Christodoulos (whose name means 'the servant of Christ'), Savvas (who blew himself up with a bomb two weeks ago) and Vasilis, sons of a priest, have become members of the notorious Greek Marxist terrorist organisation 'November 17'? How could they have assassinated the British Brigadier Saunders in Athens in June 2000? And how could Savvas, who lived by painting icons, have been living with a Spanish woman?

It seems to us that the answers to these questions lie in the dark processes of dechristianization of contemporary Greece. Greece today appears to be going through that same processes of spiritual disintegration that Russia went through one hundred years ago. For example, in the 1901 riots in Russia, students, all baptised Orthodox, entered churches, blasphemed, threw objects at icons, as a measure of their revolt. After that came the atheist Revolutions of 1905 and then 1917. Moreover, many of the revolutionaries were connected through family tradition with the Church, for example the well-known Marxist Sergei Bulgakov, who came from a priestly family. And the notorious Joseph Dzhugashvili (alias Stalin) was a seminarist.

It has to be admitted today that most Greeks are only nominal Orthodox. I can remember when I lived in Thessaloniki nearly twenty-five years ago that one of the leading icon-painters there painted while he swigged whisky. Icon-painting, like the whole Orthodox Faith, were for him merely a cultural form, a technique, without any inner content. What happens when the Faith itself becomes a mere form, without any inner content?

It becomes an ideology opposed to oppression.

In Eastern Europe, in countries much oppressed by the Western world ever since the Crusades, right through to the Crimean War, to the pro-Turkish stance of the West ever since and up to the recent bombing of Serbia by NATO, there is much bitterness against the West. This is understandable. The hypocrisy of the West in supporting the Turkish Muslim Invasion of Christian Cyprus, the backing by the US and the rest of the West of Muslim fanatics in Bosnia, Macedonia and southern Serbia (Kosovo), the permission by the West for Albanian drug-dealers to rape and pillage Kosovo and destroy over a hundred Orthodox churches while KFOR looks on, all of this is a fact.

We can have nothing but utter condemnation for the assassination of the British 'diplomat', Brigadier Saunders, in Athens two years ago and like Fr Triandaphyllos, we can only have sympathy for his widow, Heather. However, one need not be a genius to realise why a British Brigadier was attached to the British Embassy in Athens. Although British newspapers have not said it, he had obviously been a spy, and may have had something to do with the earlier NATO war-crimes in the former Yugoslavia. He was thus a clear target for Greek Marxists. He should have been a target for the prayer of the Orthodox whom he and other Westerners so oppress. For we are called to love our enemies, not to hate them. But nominal Orthodox, blinded by nationalism and ideology, have forgotten how to pray for their enemies.

What happens to Orthodox who lose their Orthodox Christian Faith? The fact is that they simply go the way of the world. Either they become Westernized, like those nineteenth-century Russian intellectuals who fell away from Orthodoxy, 'the Westernizers'. Or else they became romantic nationalists, like the nineteenth-century Russian 'Slavophiles'. Something similar has happened in Greece. A great many, though remaining nominally Orthodox, have ceased to practise their Orthodox Faith and gone along with the import of materialistic Western life. Others, more idealistic, have fallen into Communistic-Nationalistic traps, so many of which we can find today in post-Communist Russia or Yugoslavia. (And it should be noted that exactly the same has happened to Roman Catholics and Lutherans who have lost their Faith in other Eastern European countries, including Poland and the former East Germany, where so many are attracted to Anti-Semitic Fascism and Neo-Nazism or else are still drawn by Communism).

Poor Fr Triandapyllos and his presbytera and family. Poor Heather Saunders and orphaned children and all the other victims of Greek terrorism. Poor 'Orthodox' Greeks who have lost their faith and their love for our enemies. But without the renewal and restoration of a conscious Orthodox Christian Faith and Way of Life in all Orthodox and Non-Orthodox lands, this Greek tragedy will be repeated elsewhere. A nominal Orthodox faith is useless. A Faith without content and understanding is empty and futile. Nationalistic, ritualistic pomp is not the Orthodox Church and not the Orthodox Faith. However much they may be promoted by certain 'official representatives' of the Orthodox Churches, 'Hellenism' and 'Slavophilism' are not the way ahead, they are the way behind.

He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

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