The Old Testament, the New Testament, and the writings of the Holy Fathers of the Church consider the care of foreigners to be a non-negotiable duty of believers in the one true God. Visit our Angels Unawares page to learn how you can provide assistance to the refugees and asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border, or Orthodox Christians Helping Children and Families in Syria to provide assistance to victims of unending war in that part of the world.
Someone who refuses help to refugees and migrants is “neither Greek nor Christian,” said Metropolitan Ignatius of Dimitrias and Almyros amid growing protests by local communities against the resettlement of refugees from the islands.
Speaking to Alpha FM, Ignatius said, “I cannot accept anyone who refuses to help refugees and immigrants. For me, he is neither Greek nor Orthodox. Orthodoxy cares for any person, regardless of their origin. This means Jesus. As long as we preach Jesus, this we’ll practice.”
He added that “refugees and migrants are Christ today. We teach this Christ…. We will be held accountable if we do not receive Him. Only with this Christ can we truly celebrate the Resurrection at Pascha” [cf. the Sunday of the Last Judgment].
“When I saw the opening of chapels in the islands for people to enter, it was the most sacred act. Even the natural image, the wood, wherever we find it, we will take it, clean it, and put it in a good spot in our homes. So is man. Of course it has pain, trouble. “No matter how much the Greeks have been blamed, now all people turn their eyes on Greece and say that Greeks have a heart,” Ignatius said.
To those voices claiming that “Muslim refugees and migrants threaten Christianity,” Metropolitan Ignatius recalled that Greeks did not lose their Christian faith during the 400 years of the Ottoman occupation and will not lose it now.
“I too am concerned, but in the name of anxiety you cannot leave a child hungry. We were not lost during 400 years of slavery, will we be lost now? Now too we will endure. Europe is in danger of losing God,” he stressed.
He criticized the government for reintroducing the teaching of the Greek Orthodox religion in schools. “They are confronted with Islam and now they are running to add religious classes to teach children what God is and what a mosque is. If we go phobic, we will make the biggest mistakes. The Church gave everything when needed.”
Stressing that he has been taught about Islam in the Orthodox Theological School of Athens (and passed the exams as well), Metropolitan Ignatius said, “It is wrong to say that all Islam is jihadist and wants a ‘holy war.’ Of course, there are quotes [from the Quran] that can be paraphrased or used for political reasons, and thus turn Islam into a war machine.”
He stressed that “the Gospel of Christ did not prevent the Crusades. The misunderstanding brought blood. Everybody should read the Quran as a book of culture, we have nothing to lose.”
Asking, “Why does a European become a jihadist when he reads the Quran?” Ignatius said because “he has lost the meaning of life and through the Quran that makes things easier he thinks he can find a meaning in his life.”
“We Greeks have tradition, mysticism, we have the truth,” Metropolitan Ignatius concluded.
P.S. Metropolitan Ignatius seems to be the only shining light among the Greek clergy when the overwhelming majority keep silent on the rising movement against refugees and migrants, and refrain from taking a position on the issue.
On the the other hand, some clergy do not hesitate to urge citizens to take up arms against refugees and migrants resettled from the islands.