Few Orthodox Priests Concerned About Pagan Roots of Olympic Games

August 15, 2004

Source: Beliefnet.com/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


On August 15, 2004 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, "In the weeks before these Summer Games began, a few outspoken and fundamentalist-minded priests preached that old-time religion, complaining --- in print --- that the Olympics were sacrilegious. 'We're reveling too much in the pagan pastimes. I don't approve,' Father Peter, a priest in Marathon, told Runner's World magazine in its latest issue. Other clerics just days ago told reporters they were concerned about the content of the Opening Ceremony, which offered depictions of the ancient gods. But church elders discouraged such anti-Olympics talk and attended the opening ceremonies. They also issued a brochure to foreign visitors welcoming them to the Games, reminding them that the Greek gods were mythological and that Christian Orthodoxy is the religion of 97 percent of Greece's 10.3 million people. 'We don't mind that the Olympics are like this as long as the meaning of the ancient gods isn't turned into idolatry,' said Father Tomas Synodinos, chancellor of the archdiocese of Athens. 'We must be honest and admit it is part of the country's history.'"