Thursday, 8 October 2009

It's all Greek to me!

A few weeks ago I was in Greece (sigh! - and apologies for the gap in blog posts).

Warm sunshine, blue skies (mostly), great food, great wine - and Orthodox churches.

We had a great tour guide on our second week, Thanos, who led us on our visits to villages on the island of Evia. He was an active member of the Orthodox Church, and we had some excellent explanations of the design and layout of churches.

What a great lesson in artistic communication, but which is probably sadly lost on most visitors. I am struck again and again by the images of Christ 'Pantocrator' high up in the dome.

But what most interested me was what Thanos said at the end about the Orthodox Church today. He commented on the fact that many clergy are older rather than younger, and the church is struggling to attract younger priests. I learnt some interesting things about the Orthodox vs Roman Catholics: Orthodox have no time for the Pope and infallibility, or for priestly celibacy (except for bishops).

One solution to the shortage of clergy, Thanos explained, is that Anglican clergy are allowed to lead worship in Orthodox churches. Then (not knowing I was a priest) he turned to the subject of women priests. How often I have heard that some sections of the Anglican church don't agree with the idea of women priests because the Orthodox and Catholic Churches don't.

Apparently there has been a vote in the Greek Orthodox Church in favour of women priests (why is this not more widely known? I ask myself). But the Greek Orthodox Church is part of, and smaller than the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Russian Church is not in favour of women priests, so the Greek Church could not proceed as it wished.

So nothing has yet changed in Greece, but to me this does put a rather different take on the 'tradition' perspective... When it comes to women bishops, does the 'tradition' arguement hold as much water as its supporters suggest it does? If at least part of the Orthodox Church supports a move to women being priests (and bishops), where does that leave the 'traditionalists'?


Anonymous said...

I didn't know that the Greek Orthodox Church voted in favor of women priests. When did this vote take place and where? Please provide more information on this historical vote.

Also, it was stated in the article that the "Greek Orthodox Church is part of, and smaller than the Russian Orthodox Church..." The Greek Orthodox Church is not part of the Russian Orthodox Church; rather, they are two independent churches with mutual recognition.

The Greek Orthodox Church is definitely smaller than the Russian Orthodox Church. I can see why the Greek Church wouldn't want to start ordaining women priests (assuming that this vote in favor of women priests took place) if the Russian Church is against it because that could cause a schism. I do hope that women will be ordained as priests as soon as possible.

CPAS Women in Leadership said...

Thanks for this correction re the relation between the two churches. I meant to imply they were related, not part of the same church. Not sure when this vote took place but our Greek Orthodox guide made a point of explaining it. I was not sure how to verify but had no reason to doubt him.